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Our Community, Our Environment Digital Learning Lab

Our Community, Our Environment Digital Learning Lab

Neighborhood Associates Corporation – Federal ID 38-3654131

Program Summary

Neighborhood Associates Corporation has partnered with Community Neighborhood Renaissance Partners and Environmental Justice Climate Change Coalition to create Our Community, Our Environment (OCOE), an innovative one-week summer program for young people using a connected learning model that is relevant to students interests, innovative and transformative for them and the community. Students aged 13-18 who reside in the Kenilworth/Parkside area of Washington DC will engage in a production centered, peer driven technology learning experience. The project is designed to result in civically engaged youth with the technical skills to advocate for and promote positive activities and resources in their community.

NAC works directly with Paradise an affordable housing community with over 1,000 residents, more than half of whom are 18 years old or younger. We will draw our participants from Paradise and the surrounding Kenilworth/Parkside community.

OCOE is a 6-day program designed to engage students organized into teams of five who will create a mobile application that increases community awareness and use of local natural resources.

Participants will work together to design and publish their own unique blog and mobile application utilizing research, images and video footage they create while in the program. They will learn to express their ideas in clean prose as well as create and deliver presentations based on their experiences throughout the program. Our program model incorporates connected learning principles to ensure participants are in an environment that fosters academic excellence, fun, social connections while encouraging a sense of belonging and membership.

OCOE taps into the young person’s established use of technology and social media, which they currently engage in through social networking, Internet usage and school curriculum. The best explanation of our approach is “Project based, peer led learning in a contemporary context that is relevant to youth and the communities in which they live.”


Each day begins with breakfast then a centering activity to harmonize the youth into a group setting. We then move into the lesson of the day, which is project focused and includes core competency components such as recognizing key ideas and details, craft and structure and the integration of knowledge and ideas. There will also be lunch served daily.

The youth participants will be divided into teams, to model the team based, project oriented nature of today’s workforce. Project groups will meet during the second half of the day to develop ideas for their app and produce a daily blog. For many of these students the web tools and applications will be new, so the first days will be focused on learning the basics of new media, exploring relevant content and web 2.0 tools.

Our interdisciplinary approach will allow students to explore the community, map environmental and social assets, synthesize gained knowledge, and identify appropriate ways to share information. Industry relevant field trips and guest speakers will augment our activities. Participants will be encouraged to also interview and poll their existing social media contacts, friends and family members about their understanding and experiences living in the community.

Teams will compete to have their app launched and hosted for 3 months. The app competition is designed to foster innovation and reward participants for hard work, creativity and integration of the over-all OCOE experience.

Day 1 Meeting Ourselves and Our Community

Understanding the Issues: Anacostia Watershed, Development and Intro to Mobile Applications

Fieldtrip: Tour of Ward 7 (including Marvin Gaye Park) guided by Groundwork Anacostia

Entry Survey: IT and Environmental Justice knowledge assessment

Notetaking via Evernote and posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with retweets

Guest Speakers from Environmental Protection Agency

Day 2 Environmental Justice Meets Technology

Introduction to Blogging and Mapping

Synthesize previously collected data and create mapping application.

Guest Speaker: Marisol Becerra- Youth Activist. Creator of Little Village, Chicago Map of Environmental justice

Day 3 Student Technology Workshop

Terrance’s Top 20 Tech Tools (interactive lesson includes augmented reality and qr codes)

Brainstorming projects

Mobile App creation

Blogging and Posting

Day 4 So Far, So Good

Future goals forum: Guest Speaker: Information Technology professional, Career Counselor or College Admissions counselor Speaker

Sneak peek at projects, feedback from groups

Mobile App creation

Blogging and Posting

Day 5 Completing Application and Map

Participants will work in groups to finalize specified pieces of the map and application technology

Exit Survey: IT and Environmental Justice knowledge assessment

Day 6 Final Project Presentation

Present App to professional Panel (10 am)

Present App at community event with family, community members leaders and Press invitees
(awards given to teams and participants)

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