By L’Oreal Thompson Payton and Elisabeth Booze

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. This is the common introduction to “going green,” and unfortunately it’s where environmental education — let alone environmental justice — often ends.

Today — on the United Nations’ World Environment Day — we’re thinking about what it takes to reinvent environmental education for the modern age.

Environmental education hasn’t been systematically reconsidered since the 1970s, when Earth Day was first established. The National Environmental Education Act of 1990 saw additional federal funding allocated to help schools maintain environmental curricula, but the language of the former movements of Nature Study and…


How Onward is building a movement grounded in proximity, co-creation, and community-centered design

From the outside, it looks like Thaly Germain is always on the move — building, founding, organizing, and creating. But she is also, always, trying to stay grounded. After living through a coup d’etat in Haiti, then moving to the U.S. and living through the Crown Heights riots, Thaly understands the importance of taking space for healing, listening, and grounding, even when the world is moving at a clip.

At the first pop-up meeting for Onward, Thaly and her team looked around and watched young Black and Brown people being who they were — feeling free, without being called into…


What four cases are teaching us about youth/adult co-creation

Written in partnership with L’Oreal Thompson Payton

Many of us working in service, education, or similar industries know that working with young people is a key to productive, long-lasting impact. We watch younger generations organize, speak out, and fight back against state violence, discrimination, and other injustices. We know the power of their voice and work. But do we truly know what it looks like to work in meaningful, symbiotic partnership with young people?

A year ago, I would have named work with young people as one of the easiest and most essential parts of my professional existence. As a…


How STRIVE Prep — RISE is on the move towards a future of learning that puts young people at the helm

There is a spirit of inquiry and improvement that undergirds all the work STRIVE Prep — RISE is doing to reimagine education. They are thinking about the way school has traditionally been done, and asking themselves how to build something wholly new, and better. How do they ensure that across all levels of their organization students aren’t seen as empty vessels to fill, but instead school is treated as a space to learn with? How do they ensure teachers aren’t lecturing for 45 minutes, but students are engaged as co-creators in their learning?

After talking with Samson Patton, 11th and…


By L'Oreal Thompson Payton for the Reinvention Lab. You can listen to the audio version of this story here.

A government “of the people, by the people, for the people” — these are the so-called tenets of American democracy. But as the insurrection earlier this year has shown us, that hasn’t always been the case. With the inauguration of President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and the dawn of one of the most diverse cabinets in U.S. history, 16-year-old student activist Zoë Jenkins is cautiously optimistic.

“What I’m hopeful for in 2021 is that American democracy truly becomes a…


How Village of Wisdom is taking the time to work alongside a community of Black learners and families

There are 7.6 million black students in K-12 schooling going into Fall 2020. According to William Jackson, founder of Village of Wisdom, when you center social justice issues, challenge them to think about liberation from a really early age, ask them about the inventions, art, music that are going to be necessary to get to liberation, that’s 7 million chances at liberation. That’s why he believes liberation is inevitable.

A 2019 Ashoka fellow, Jackson founded Village of Wisdom to be a place where families and communities could reframe their approach to learning in a way that centers on Black genius


How community-based, anywhere-anytime, Black-centric learning can be a drastic reimagination of the current system

In Summer 2020, I spoke to Jessica Brown, Muffy Mendoza, and Allyce Pinchback-Johnson, part of the founding team of The Black Homeschool Society. We talked about everything from Allyce watching her then 5-month old daughter grow up in the midst of quarantine, to their involvement with Black Women for Better Education, a group of 55 women in the Pittsburgh area who have come together to address the district’s response to remote learning. …


RevX and the reimagined future of learning

Co-authored with Juliette Heinze

In Developing a Liberatory Consciousness, author Barbara Love states, “The socialization process of society works to ensure that each person learns what they need to know to behave in ways that contribute to the maintenance and perpetuation of existing systems [of dis-equality].” Love further asserts that rather than preparing people of color to become leaders, innovators, and decision makers, these systems of dis-equality instead actively hold people of color subordinate.


How the Center for Urban Pedagogy is pushing for more relevant, community-based learning in the age of Coronavirus and calls for racial justice

Fielding Hong is half-Korean, from a small, rural town in Iowa. Growing up, Hong loved learning but didn’t necessarily love school. As an example, he tells me, he was valedictorian but was still getting in-school suspensions. This experience cemented a key thing for him: learning needs to incorporate an element of whimsy that allows for students at all performance levels to access its benefits, and this includes learning that happens outside of the traditional classroom.

In his re-imagining, Hong works as the Youth Education Program Manager at the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) to add relevance and imagination to the…


What is on the minds of young people as they return to school in this age of Covid-19 and widespread racial reckonings?

During Summer 2020, The Reinvention Lab — powered by Teach For America — assembled a diverse coalition of 12 young people from across the country to take part in the Enduring Ideas Fellowship. The fellowship was an exploration into what it takes for adults in education nonprofits to truly co-create alongside young people. …

Elisabeth Booze

Working in service of storytelling at The Reinvention Lab

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