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O’Dowd Recognized as a Fair Trade School

One of Only 16 K-12 Schools in the Nation to Receive Designation


Bishop O’Dowd High School is one of only 16 schools (at the K-12 level), nationwide that have been recognized as a Fair Trade School, embedding Fair Trade practices and principles into policy as well as the social and intellectual foundation of the school community.

 At O’Dowd, students, faculty and staff are committed to creating a spark and inspiring change that affects the global community. To that end, the school has pledged to purchase environmentally and socially preferable products and services. This means that O’Dowd strives to establish relationships with vendors/contractors who can attest to the strict adherence of fair trade standards, fair labor standards and conditions, child labor laws and responsibilities, and environmental sustainability principles.  

According to Director of Sustainability Andra Yeghoian, this policy is important because, “It means we are endorsing an economic system that holds businesses accountable to their impact on all stakeholders – suppliers, workers, community, and environment – not just a single bottom line, but a triple bottom line that balances people, profit and planet.”

Some concrete examples of O’Dowd’s commitment are:

  • Serving 100% Fair Trade Certified coffees and teas throughout the campus
  • Contracting with Fair Trade aligned apparel companies for all clothing sold in the school’s spirit shop
  • Becoming a Fair Trade School, meaning we are part of a powerful grassroots network that advocates on campuses and communities for normalizing Fair Trade as an institutional practice. This past year O’Dowd hosted multiple events to educate students, faculty and staff about Fair Trade
  • Contracting with Epicurean Food Group, a certified Bay Area Green Business recognized for community environmental responsibility, resource conservation, pollution prevention, and providing fresh, natural, local and organic food choices. Epicurean even uses fresh produce from the school’s 4-acre Living Lab – a certified wildlife habitat and outdoor classroom - on a regular basis. By prioritizing the purchase of local, organic, Fair Trade and sustainably harvested food and beverage items, O’Dowd seeks to improve the health of our students, foster robust local economies and healthier soils and streams, and secure livelihoods for farmers

Students are heavily involved in driving the effort through Students for Sustainability (S4S), a division of the Sustainability Corps (S-Corps), which is dedicated to greening the campus, spreading social justice and empowering others to live sustainability and build thriving communities. The club regularly hosts sustainability related events and sponsors sustainability competitions.

New for the 2015-16 academic year is the Sustainability Certification Program, which offers multiple avenues for students to develop real world skills that will prepare them for sustainability oriented college majors, careers and lifestyles. Each of the three certificate pathways – Community Impact Certificates, Living Laboratory Garden Certificates, Junior Ranger Certificates – are built around a similar structure: foundational knowledge, applied action, service and reflection. The S-Corp certificate program also aims to develop important 21st century skills such as innovative problem solving, collaboration, systems thinking and public speaking skills.


O’Dowd has also been recognized by the California Department of Education as a Silver Status Green Ribbon School.

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