September 20

Environmental Justice Brigade Champions

Environmental Justice Brigade Champions

Boston, New York, and Philadelphia Summer Searchers engage the intersection of environmental and social justice.

After more than a year of distanced mentoring conversations and virtual Zoom experiences, Summer Search was thrilled to return to a range of in-person, empowering summer program options for our students in 2021. Alongside outdoor adventures, this included community service, academic, and internship opportunities with Summer Search partners.

Summer Search is committed to offering programs that meet participants where they are; this includes providing alternative summer programming to outdoor experiences. This summer, the Summer Search Environmental Justice Brigade (EJB) offered 150 students the opportunity to learn more about environment issues within their own communities and through the lens of social justice.  

Summer Search Philadelphia students sharing their final EJB presentations, art activist boards, and reflections on their time in the week-long program.

Environmental Justice Partners

In Summer Search New York City, we partnered with WeAct, a Harlem / D.C. based nonprofit with a mission to build healthy communities by ensuring that people of color and/or low-income residents participate in the creation of environmental health protection policies and practices. Participants learned about different areas of environmental justice, including foundations of organizing, clean air quality, climate justice, energy, food justice, and climate resilience and green infrastructure.

One area of focus, toxic products resonated with participants as the products can be found in everyday life, including makeup and aerosol sprays among other things.

Summer Search Philadelphia collaborated with community partner, Amber Art and Design to create an experiential learning opportunity. The mission of Amber Art and Design is to leverage art from a point of renewal and service: inviting communities and individuals to advocate for positive change. The program engaged participants in outdoor exploration, environmental and social justice education, creative self-expression, and opportunities for activism.

Final Capstone Projects

As a final capstone, New York City and participants collaborated on a group project. Some of the EJB’s student projects included an op-ed, comic strip, informational websites, and social media accounts advocating for environment justice reform. 

In Philadelphia, participants wrapped up programming with presentations ranging from air pollution to racial inequity and created art activist boards. Participants also got to work cleaning up Cobbs Creek, home to the Cobbs Creak Community Environmental Education Center in Southwest Philadelphia who hosted them for the week.

All participants received a paid stipend for completing the program and sharing their final presentations.

Summer Search Philadelphia students cleaning up Cobbs Creek, home to their host site, the Cobbs Creek Community Environmental Education Center in Southwest Philadelphia.


We’re grateful to have partners like WeAct and Amber Art and Design who provide our Summer Searchers with real opportunities to learn about environmental justice issues and to take action. We’re honored to amplify the voices of our young leaders as they strive to bring change in their neighborhoods and the world.

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