Through the critical thinking skills embedded in science, the Urban Ecology Center’s signature program, the Neighborhood Environmental Education Project (NEEP), empowers the next generation of leaders. NEEP educates young people and helps them gain the skills needed to succeed later in life. One study, Improving Science Inquiry with Elementary Students of Diverse Backgrounds, showed that a similar program helped students improve their ability to engage in inquiry by 25%. The greatest gains were made by students with a history of low achievement, low socioeconomic status and limited English proficiency. With that in mind, the Urban Ecology Center NEEP program works exclusively with schools in urban neighborhoods, serving predominantly Milwaukee Public School students. Historically, these students have been ignored by programs with an environmental focus though they have the potential to benefit the most. This is a powerful model that has a broad impact: every urban area has a mix of underused natural space and underserved school children. NEEP fuses these components to create a framework that supports healthy urban ecosystems and grows the next generation of leaders through a research-based, cost-effective solution that can reach all types of learners, at all grade levels.