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One Square Mile

Transforming education so that students are not only prepared for college & careers, but to contribute to a peaceful and sustainable planet.

Photo of Alyssa Frances Thompson
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You believe schools should help create socially-conscientious societies. You believe democratic participation and ethical action are a set of skills, knowledge, and attitudes that need to be explored and modeled from an early age. You believe in transforming the purpose of education so that students are not only prepared for college or for their careers, but for the work of creating a peaceful and sustainable planet.

At One Square Mile, we believe this too.

But where to begin?

Imagine a world where all teachers are able to administer a simple online or paper survey at the beginning of the school year. It takes their students approximately 20 minutes to complete. It immediately provides a customized, easy to understand classroom report. The report is based on research-backed data on the civic orientations and assets of their students.

Of course, data and reports are not nearly enough. A close partnership between schools and One Square Mile comes next; here is what that means in concrete terms:

Explain your idea

One Square Mile allows teachers to easily diagnose and support their students' civic orientations and actions and provides them with evidence-based training and resources designed to advance their students’ growth as stewards of a peaceful world.

Who Benefits?

Teachers, students, and communities!

How is your idea unique?

There are so many wonderful resources out there for teachers related to civic action. But right now, many teachers are using whatever they happen to hear about, whatever is available in their neighborhood, or putting together service-learning field trips when they have a chance. It's like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. There is a better way to do this! We marry academic research (collaborating with top academics writing on civic engagement) with user-friendly impact assessment (designed by us) with exceptional resources (we create tools ourself and direct teachers to other wonderful organizations creating civic action tools for classrooms). We also turn the focus to the assets that our students bring. Many of our students walk to school each day. They know all of the local business owners. What incredible assets to build from! Let's make sure we see the civic assets in our classrooms just as clearly as we try to see children's phonics or math scores.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Mariyam Farooq is based in London. Prior to co-founding One Square Mile, Mariyam led the Global Impact team at Teach For All. She began her career as a 5th Grade Teacher in Los Angeles and has also worked as a Grade 3-5 Teacher with International Rescue Committee, planning and implementing culturally-responsive curriculum for refugee youth. She currently consults for Social Finance and BlackThrive, two London-based collective impact initiatives. Mariyam speaks Hindi, Urdu, and Gujurati, and is learning Spanish. Alyssa Thompson is based in San Francisco. She began in education as a 4th grade teacher in New York City. There, she developed an after-school community garden program and taught academic content through a growing food and cooking curriculum. She later served as Founding Dean of a school in San Francisco and established an extensive arts and garden enrichment program. She is currently a teacher coach in Oakland. She speaks Spanish and is learning Arabic and French.

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered social enterprise.


Join the conversation:

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This concept is so inspirational, and in the face of global challenges, including many that are addressed by other Challenge entries, this approach could be a conduit for the adoption and application of many, many other great entries. This idea should be selected and supported as enabling the success of so many others.

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