In 2016, Common Ground High School received a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to build capacity and teach skills in environmentally themed urban public high schools, through a program called Teaching Our Cities (TOC). TOC aims to create a new, diverse generation of environmental stewards, working to make a visible difference in communities across the country. As part of a 20-month commitment to TOC, a group of 36 educators, administrators, and students from six urban public high schools participated in six workshops led by Common Ground High School (CGHS). Working with CGHS, New Knowledge Organization Ltd. (NewKnowledge), a nonprofit research and evaluation think tank, conducted the external evaluation of TOC, to understand its impacts on creating a cohesive community of educators and increasing students’ engagement in environmental leadership. NewKnowledge used the Community of Practice (CoP) framework as proposed by Wenger, Trayner, and de Laat (2011), to understand the project’s impact.
The findings reveal:
- Participants were able to attain the first four cycles of a CoP in a short and accelerated time frame;
- The community of educators can still use support in strengthening their CoP and remains eager to do so; and
- The majority of students were likely to volunteer in efforts they cared about, talk to family and friends about their experiences, and agree that they could use the skills they learned in the past year.