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Better World Projects

Peek behind the curtain to see how great projects happen! Through compelling photography, video, and writing, students and teachers take on the role of documentarians of learning. The result is 18 beautiful stories of projects conducted during the 2017-18 school year nationwide

Fourth-grade students from Conway Elementary School in Escondido, CA  explore the human impact on the fragile watershed in their community while finding solutions to the problems of this ecosystem. With the assistance of scientists, professionals, and community members, they bring their community together to make their world a better place.

Sixth-grade students from Interdistrict School for Arts And Communication in New London, CT break stereotypes associated with the label “immigrant” in the United States today by telling the human story of immigration with a local lens. Earning widespread local and national media coverage, these students produced a beautiful book filled with original photography and stories from humans in their community who had immigrated to the United States, spoke at the state Capitol Building, and toured the northeast with an exhibit of their learning.  

Sixth-grade students from Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester, NY explore the tension between positive urban revitalization and the threat that gentrification can bring to diversity, culture and affordable living through writing, presentations, and public murals.

Twelfth-grade students from  Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School in Manhattan, NYC investigate a range of social issues that adversely affect their urban community—drugs, poverty, homelessness, abuse— raise awareness and award grants to the most deserving local organizations.

Sixth-grade students from Lodestar Community Charter School in Oakland, CA  advocate for religious tolerance in America by becoming journalists and printmakers. Focusing on the common roots of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and digging into experiences of Islamophobia, students create written, spoken, and artistic work that provokes conversation and builds relationships across difference.

Fourth and fifth-grade students from Silverton Elementary School in Silverton, CO leave their tiny, isolated community and travel across Colorado to experience new people and places, learn the history of their state from diverse perspectives, and connect with pen-pals. Students create a living history exhibit for their local museum that focuses on the untold story of Colorado.

Eleventh-grade students from Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. host a student-led symposium—a city-wide Food Justice Youth Summit—bringing together over 200 students, educators, food-justice advocates, funders and policymakers to discuss research, solutions and policy.

First-grade students from Fox Creek Elementary in Highlands Ranch, CO explore the importance of relationships and stories as they exchange personal narratives with elder community members, creating artistic portraits of themselves and of their elder ‘grandfriends’ as gifts.

Seventh-grade students from Graham Elementary and Middle School in Columbus, OH have courageous conversations with city council members, clergy, police, and citizens. This positive and restorative dialogue is a powerful force for change in their city struggling with issues of race and police violence.

Sixth-grade students from REALMS Middle School in Bend, OR establish a robust school garden and school-wide composting system to make the world a better place. Their school is a  model students present to the school board for replication at other district schools.

Tenth-grade students from Leaders High School in Brooklyn, NY tackle difficult issues of race and identity by becoming professionally trained in de-escalation and responding to microaggressions, then lead conversations, offer training sessions and create written resources for their community.

Fourth-grade students from Downtown Denver Expeditionary School in Denver, CO celebrate the courage and mission of young adult refugees in their city, interviewing them and capturing their stories to share with the community.  Students offer a film screening of their original documentary and a high-quality book that explores both their interviews and original illustrations.

Eighth-grade students from Open World Learning Community in St. Paul, MN use their mathematics to help make the world a better place. They prepare high-quality, data-rich reports on community and state issues that inform legislators of pressing needs and potential solutions. Students meet with State Representatives and Senators to lobby for positive change on these issues, using their mathematical analyses as evidence for their arguments.

Fourth-grade students from Palouse Prairie Charter School in Moscow, ID build relationships across difference while sharing cultural history and collaborating with local Nez Perce tribal youth to build a 24- foot cedar plank canoe and a traditional Nimi ́ipuu dugout canoe.

Third and fifth-grade students from Grandview Elementary School in Charleston, West Virginia work together to combat hunger in their rural neighborhoods while helping families grow healthy food, lobbying their school district for healthful school lunches, and producing a useful community garden as a resource for all.

Second-grade students from Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School in Hartford, CT make the world a better place by laying the groundwork for a safe and accessible playground in their school community. Writing persuasive letters to local government officials and advocating for support, students work together towards equity and inclusion at their school.

Twelfth-grade students from Four Rivers Charter Public School in Greenfield, MA study the range of energy sources used locally, interview stakeholders on all sides of energy debates, and explore local issues of energy controversy. They create a professional quality, feature-length documentary on these issues and their advocacy for sustainable energy screened for the public in a downtown movie theater to begin a public dialogue on the topic.

Eleventh-grade students from Tapestry Charter School in Buffalo, NY break down barriers across race and difference in their segregated city by strategically researching, exploring, and analyzing their own city neighborhoods. They create a book of varied perspectives and host a block party to bring citizens together in celebration.

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