What is it?
Keep Philadelphia Beautiful believes in the power of education to inspire action. That’s why in January of 2015, KPB partnered with the School District of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Streets Department to train volunteers to provide interactive workshops on litter, recycling and leadership in schools throughout our city. As of June 2018, KPB has reached close to 12,000 young Philadelphians and visited approximately 40% of our public schools at least once to spread our message of environmental stewardship and civic pride. As a response to workshop feedback from in-classroom teachers, KPB and the School District have developed resource guides, hosted convening events for educators, and organized professional development opportunities focused on in-school recycling programs.
Why was the program implemented?
KPB consistently hears from educators hoping to teach their students about the importance of recycling and keeping our neighborhoods clean. The Volunteer Educator Program was established to develop capacity to proactively meet this need.
KPB’s workshops are designed to:
- Make connections between litter and our environment, community pride, economicdevelopment, and physical and mental health
- Provide a clear understanding of the recycling process, and what can and cannot be recycled
- Spark action in our schools and their surrounding neighborhoods
How does it work?
The Volunteer Educator Program runs on the power of dedicated volunteers, passionate teachers, and lesson plans as well as follow up in-class activities and resources. KPB seeks interest from engaged Philadelphians and trains them on how to teach students about littering and recycling. Then, along with the School District and various other partners, conducts concentrated outreach to teachers to schedule presentations.
KPB asks for feedback from both their volunteers and teachers after each presentation. These reactions and tips then help KPB create additional ways to engage students and support educators.
Keep Philadelphia Beautiful has been able to run this program through a part-time coordinator to assist in outreach, scheduling and other tasks. Additional costs include office supplies like printing of resource guides, recognition for volunteers such as happy hours or awards, and events for in-classroom teachers.
Lessons Learned and Tips
- Engaging Youth: Listen to teachers, they know best how to engage students effectively, and what they need from outside partners like KPB
- Help Volunteers: Give volunteers as many interactive tools in their education arsenal: games, videos, and more!
- Tailor presentations to the group as much as possible: Ask teachers beforehand to tell you what they have already covered with their students, and how our presentations can be most impactful
- Engaging Volunteers: Give volunteers all of the information they need to know to feel prepared to answer questions from students and teachers; keep them updated on Philadelphia litter and recycling news
- Make the process fun and easy
- Show appreciation: Allow volunteers to see how much you appreciate their time by not only saying it, but through recognition events and awards
- Developing Partnerships: Nobody does this work alone! Figure out who can help your program succeed from curriculum development to outreach.
- Diligence and Follow Through: Be organized about scheduling and follow-up with both volunteers and in-classroom teachers; keep good track of presentations that are in the process of being scheduled.
- Be organized: Keep good track of what schools you’ve been to, how many students you’ve reached, and contact information for teachers
Who to Get in Touch with
If you’re interested in creating a similar program in your area, are a teacher and want to have a presentation in your classroom, or want to volunteer with KPB you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 215-854-4000.