Build an Environmental Justice Curriculum for Chicago Public Schools

Marisol Becerra, 2010 Fellow, created a Blueprint for Social Justice that focused on collaborating with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) to create the first environmental justice curriculum for Chicago Public Schools.

The curriculum was used at one elementary school and one high school which resulted in an increase in youth engagement on their campaign to close down two of Chicago’s dirtiest coal power plants after the curriculum was implemented.

In September 2012, while Marisol was working on this issue as a Senior Fellow at YP4, the campaign saw success and the plants were shut down. This victory was just a piece of her larger vision. She knew her community must continue to educate and organize towards environmental justice and sustainable development. The future of the brownfield sites, a former industrial or commercial site where future use is affected by real or perceived environmental contamination like the coal plants in Little Village, is up for grabs and Marisol is working to ensure these sites are redeveloped for her community to guarantee that the redevelopment does not lead to the gentrification of the area.

Marisol sees sustainable development as a global goal that often voices of people from low-income people of color are rarely represented in UN negotiations. Therefore, Young People For supported her participation at the UNCSD Rio +20 Summit where she connected to international youth committed to changing policy abroad and at home. To further her vision, Marisol is currently pursuing her PhD at The Ohio State University on the impacts of brownfield redevelopment on gentrification of low income ethnic communities in urban cities.