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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
15 25

Written by

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.

15 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Rose Grymes
Team

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.

Photo of Chris Federer
Team

Nice. Ever talk to Henry May down in Colombia. I think he's still involved in Teach for All and loves collaborating. He's now running coschool.co.

Photo of Alyssa Frances Thompson
Team

Thanks, Chris! I haven't spoken to Henry but am checking out his site right now... :)

Photo of Tricia Johnson
Team

Hi Alyssa,

As a policy student focusing on development, I really like the idea of making academic research easily accessible for teachers, in an actionable way. However, even with the best intentions, it's easy for reports to be left collecting dust on the shelves. How do you envision supporting teachers in incorporating this knowledge into their classrooms?

Photo of Alyssa Frances Thompson
Team

Yes, Tricia! We absolutely agree! Mariyam and I were both elementary school teachers and were so frustrated by data when nothing came after. Most of our work is done after those reports are created. Check out the "what comes next" section above and tell us what you think: We provide curriculum, communities of practice, and scaffolded support for teachers and schools. We are currently piloting this support with teachers and they are giving us lots of feedback. Let us know if there is something else that you've seen be helpful for educators or that you think we might try. Thank you so much for your comment!

Photo of Tricia Johnson
Team

Got it! I really like those ideas. They seem to give teachers good options of how involved to be depending on their availability (i.e. going to a few trainings, or attending trainings and joining a community). I must have missed that part the first time. I like the infographic, as it makes the next steps clear and easy to read. I'd suggest giving it a title so it's super easy to find. When I went back to find the section you were referring it, it took me a little while as I was scanning and not sure what I was looking for. Really great work, and thanks for sharing your idea!

Photo of Alyssa Frances Thompson
Team

That is such a great idea re: clarifying the steps with a headline. I think right now the post is locked so I can't edit in this phase (OpenIDEO team, let me know if that is wrong!) but will absolutely fix this in the next round. Thank you so much for the feedback!

Photo of Jen Chiou
Team

This needs to be in every school! Love how you are redefining the purpose of school

Photo of Alyssa Frances Thompson
Team

Thank you so much, Jen!

Photo of Jennifer Lynch
Team

This is so important. You can't manage what you don't measure! And sadly the most important things are really difficult to measure. This idea builds on rigorous academic research but translates it to a format that is accessible to teachers and not cumbersome to use. It is not about a simple report by itself, but that report will start a conversation that too few people are having right now. This will put civic engagement on the agenda and make the case for incorporating more resources across subjects. AND, it will help teachers determine which resources are really making a meaningful difference with their unique students.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Hi Alyssa!

Great to have you onboard! We noticed your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. We're looking forward to seeing your contribution in this challenge.

Photo of Alyssa Frances Thompson
Team

Thanks for the reminder!

Photo of eldy wullur
Team

Dear Alyssa,
Yes. I believe that teachers, parents, communities and governments and even the world can achieve that,
 if we all collaborate together.
But it's more portions are Teachers because teachers are already equipped with the knowledge
while a large part of the parents do not.

Photo of Alyssa Frances Thompson
Team

Thank you for your comment, Eldy! We would love to learn more about how to involve parents. Do you have ideas about this or have you seen other organizations that do this well? We are learning from some organizations in the US that teachers and parents together more and would love to consider more ideas.

Warmly,
Alyssa

Photo of Rose Grymes
Team

Such an important concept, and a genuinely novel and practical way to effectively implement. Really essential.