Calumet Is My Back Yard

Calumet Is My Back Yard

CIMBY brings science lessons to life through place-based, real-world enrichment, and inspires Chicago's high school students to become the next generation of environmental leaders.

Program Details

Calumet Is My Back Yard (CIMBY) engages 9th-12th grade students and teachers on Chicago's near to far southside in educational activities and experiences that connect classroom learning to environmental stewardship opportunities.

Through participation in the year-long CIMBY service learning program, high school students:

  • Make new connections with nature, embracing the restorative properties of outdoor experiences. The CIMBY program provides opportunities for students to create new connections with nature so that they may feel a sense of belonging in natural spaces, adopting nature as a place to promote physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.
  • Investigate local environments to foster social-ecological systems thinking. CIMBY immerses students in culturally-relevant, place-based learning and science skill development to better understand the complex and dynamic relationships that exist between our social and ecological systems.
  • Take civic action for environmental issues that matter to them. CIMBY works with students to develop consciousness and a sense of responsibility around community-based conservation, environmental justice, and broader environmental issues so that they may advocate for the health and well-being of themselves, their communities, and the surrounding environment.

Inquiry to Action

CIMBY students participate in a number of activities throughout the school year to support the development of an inquiry to action project connected to their classroom and outdoor explorations. CIMBY strives to support youth in finding connections to and thinking critically about the places where they live, and to decide, through inquiry, explorations, art, and action, to make a positive impact on their communities.

Embark on Environmental Justice Inquiry to Action Projects with community experts - Leila Ceilo, Brenda Becerra, Luis Cabrales, and Daniel Morales-Doyle.

Join CIMBY Student Leaders as they host community activists in a conversation about community and environmental health.

With successful completion of the CIMBY program, students receive credit for one inquiry to action service learning project (teachers must work with their school's programmer to ensure their class is coded properly). Starting in the 2021-2022 school year, CIMBY staff will meet regularly with participating teachers as part of the CIMBY Professional Learning Community (PLC). CIMBY Teachers work collaboratively to support each other in strengthening the real world connections they and CIMBY staff can make for their students inside and outside of the classroom.

Student Leadership Program

CIMBY Student Leader Photography Workshop at Jackson Park; Credit: Jerry Attere

In the 2020-2021 school year, CIMBY introduced a school year long Student Leadership Program. CIMBY Student Leaders meet twice a week for one hour, and once a month for three hours to dig into environmental justice, sustainability and stewardship in Chicago and beyond. Students receive a stipend for participation and are invited to participate in an intensive 5-week internship program over the summer.

Visit the CIMBY Student Leaders Page!

CIMBY is a program of the CPS Department of Social Science and Civic Engagement, in partnership with the Field Museum's Keller Science Action Center and the Dunes Learning Center.

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