The Tomorrow Project

Inspiring sustainable practices in future generations through education and experiential learning

Photo of Maxwell Feldman
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Date You Started Your Project Started

April 2019

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

According to the National Academy, only 15% of elementary school teachers teach about climate change in school. Students grow up unaware of the importance of sustainable living and the science behind/repercussions of their choices. Once elementary schoolers develop unsustainable habits, it becomes very difficult to break and relearn them when they grow older. That's why we need to make systemic change and foster green mindsets from a young age.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

Our philosophy is that anyone can have an impact on society, but the most lasting changes in a community take place when you shift the mentality of people. We partner with schools and build customized curricula to foster sustainable practices and normalize environmentally conscious behaviors. Activities include modeling water pollution through science experiments and setting up compost bins in the cafeteria. We work with the students through interactive, hands-on science lessons and give them simple, sustainable tasks that they can accomplish both at school and at home. We are also working to implement school-wide science-based sustainability projects - such as a community garden or worm bin. These projects allow students to pursue their scientific learning once we leave the classroom, as they can continue to interact and learn from the natural environment in educational ways. Once we leave the classrooms, we will continue to check in with the schools on these projects, to make sure that they are still operational and expanding. Additionally, if these classroom and school-wide initiatives change student’s habits, a “domino effect” will start that impacts the larger community.

3. Using STEM as a force of good: Please specify how are you using STEM to solve for an environmental challenge you are passionate about.

At The Tomorrow Project, we believe that science is an essential part of learning about sustainability. Through our educational workshops, we bring hands-on, interactive science experiments and activities to elementary school classrooms. Science is instrumental in actually understanding the reasons behind the importance of sustainability and critical in encouraging students to make green choices. We believe that our classroom and school-wide activities will give students the opportunity to see first hand why it is so important to care for our planet and inspire them to make green choices in their everyday lives. The workshops we have constructed also connect to common core science standards and requirements, making them easy to integrate into already mandated science curricula and encourage interdisciplinary learning.

4. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

We have always been passionate about serving our community, especially in terms of sustainability, since our future is on the line. We met in a seminar at school in which we had to identify an issue in our community. This became a passion project that we wanted to pursue independently. Living in such a forward-thinking city with people dedicated to making change further inspired us to pursue this project. However, there is more to be done. Starting out, we identified an issue with food waste in our community. We began by contacting the City of Kirkland and together piloted a public food waste bin to figure out how we can work towards permanent public composting. However, after realizing that the root of the issue was not due to insufficient resources, but rather a fixed mindset, we came up with this new project around education to target habits as they are forming in students.

5. Video (Keep it simple, a video made on a hand-held phone is great): Please upload a 1-minute video to YouTube that answers the following “I am stepping up to be a Changemaker because...”

6. Please highlight the key activities you have carried out to bring your project to life.

In mid-2019, we partnered with the City of Kirkland to implement a public composting pilot. Shortly after, we began partnering with local schools to lead classroom workshops and establish school-wide sustainability initiatives. Additionally, other climate projects, like Climate Strike WA, have asked us to work with them to spread awareness about the science of sustainability. And recently, over 75 youth from across the US have been brought on to expand our national presence and start chapters

7. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

We are proud to be a for-youth, by-youth project. Elementary schoolers look up to high schoolers; they see us as their teachers/mentors and also peers, generating more excitement. Unlike most programs, we provide hands-on, interactive activities that students directly engage with. We also prioritize making these projects cost-friendly. We know that public schools typically don’t have a lot of excess funds, so we want to help ease the burden by providing our services at a minimal cost. Finally, our program is fully customizable; we work to fit the needs and resources of a given school.

8. Impact: In the last three months, please detail the impact your project has made?

In the past few months, we have partnered with 4 schools in the area and have impacted over 500 students. However, due to COVID-19, we have postponed many of our events. Our first hands-on workshop at a local elementary school went super well! We taught the students about water pollution in our local Lake Washington by demonstrating how their actions impact their local water bodies through a hands-on model. They were super engaged and excited, and were able to identify specific action items they learned at the end of the lesson - proving that the experiment was successful. After the lesson, we took the list of action items the students created and made a poster for their classroom. We are also working on a community garden for that school, and we want to bring in more high schoolers to teach the elementary schoolers about the garden and its importance in the community.

9. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

Currently, our main objective within the next year is scaling at a variety of levels. Now that we’ve established partnerships in multiple schools and seen the validity of our program in action, we are looking to grow. One of the main ways we hope to expand is through creating new Tomorrow Project chapters across the country. We have already gotten started with expansion, bringing on 75+ new volunteers - on our national team and chapter teams - and we are in the process of launching 6 new chapters across the US. Even with the expansion, we will make sure to maintain a strong sense of community by holding org-wide meetings and check-ins. By the end of 2021, our goal is to have 15+ chapters and partnerships with over 40 elementary schools.

10. Please share how you have influenced other young people to get involved in your project and/or care about environmental sustainability.

We are currently ramping up our outreach strategy, as we are working to spread the word about our organization. Our biggest form of influence has been social media - we have taken advantage of Instagram to reach other youth and environmental groups. We are always posting content - whether big or small - so that our followers can see how exciting our work is! We have also put a lot of time into designing our website, to strengthen our credibility and demonstrate our professionalism.

11. Please share ideas of how you can partner with other changemakers to make a difference?

We would love to partner with other changemakers who are working in schools to tackle the issue of climate change. We think our project is easily scalable, so others can get involved and implement it in their community. In addition, we would love to bring technology/innovations that other changemakers have built that encourage sustainability to the schools we partner with.

12. How would you engage others who have never heard about your project to get their buy-in?

Climate Change is an issue that impacts EVERYONE and if we do not collectively take action now, the devastation will be irreversible. However, the problem can feel unapproachable because of its scale, and in turn, passionate people opt to do nothing. Our project emphasizes small, simple actions that are easy to implement - which can be extremely powerful when done collectively. To get other’s buy-ins, we demonstrate how easy it is to be sustainable - which enables many people to take action.

13. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Donations between $1k-$5k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
  • Ashoka page or contact
  • Word of mouth

Evaluation results

7 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

Yes, absolutely! - 14.3%

Probably - 57.1%

Maybe - 14.3%

Probably not - 0%

No - 14.3%

2. CONNECTION to Environmental Sustainability

5 - Absolutely! It is totally clear that the solution is contributing directly to environmental sustainability and/or addressing climate change - 42.9%

4 — Yes, it establishes a connection to environment/ climate change but could be stronger - 42.9%

3 — Somewhat, the entry speaks to this environmental sustainability, but the direct impact is not well established - 14.3%

2 — Not really, the connection to environment/ climate is very weak - 0%

1 — No. The entry does not have a reference the solution’s impact on environment and/or climate change - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%

3. Is this entry CREATIVE?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 14.3%

4 - Yes, I think so - 0%

3 - Maybe - 57.1%

2 - Probably not. - 28.6%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Does this entry demonstrate a COMMITMENT to changemaking?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 40%

4 - Yes, I think so - 100%

3 - Maybe - 0%

2 - Probably not - 0%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Does this entry value CHANGEMAKING through collaboration with other stakeholders in its approach?

5 - Yes, absolutely! - 28.6%

4 - Yes, I think so - 42.9%

3 - Maybe - 14.3%

2 - Probably not - 14.3%

1 - No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

6. Is this entry VIABLE financially and operationally?

5 -Yes, absolutely! - 33.3%

4- Yes, I think so - 66.7%

3- Maybe - 0%

2- Probably not - 0%

1- No - 0%

No Answer - 0%

7. FEEDBACK: What are the strengths of this project?

CONNECTION: You have a great understanding and personal connection to the problem - 100%

CREATIVITY: You have researched existing solutions, and have developed unique, thoughtful new solutions to aid environmental sustainability/combat climate change - 33.3%

COMMITMENT: You have a thoughtful plan for growing your business, and your founding team has a strong combination of leadership and knowledge-based skills - 100%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: You value thinking around how to activate other changemakers and empower them to care about your cause. You also have a clearly defined plan on how to collaborate across multiple stakeholders - 33.3%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: You use specific numbers and evidence to describe what your project has achieved so far (or plan to achieve in the future) and you have a plan for measuring impact - 0%

VIABLITY: You have given a great deal of thought to not just the idea itself but how to make it work from a financial perspective in the present and future - 66.7%

Other option - 0%

8. FEEDBACK: What are some areas for improvement for this project?

CONNECTION: Why you care about the environment/ climate was unclear – It would be great to elaborate on what this solution means to you, personally and how it affects you and/or your community. - 0%

CREATIVITY: Be more specific in your description of the research you have done into the past solutions to this problem and focus on how your solution is unique and innovative - 66.7%

COMMITMENT: Your plan for growing the organization can benefit from more specifics. How can you round out the various skills of your current leadership team to make the project a long-term success? - 0%

CHANGEMAKER QUALITY: Try to provide more insights into how you are activating changemakers and empowering them to innovate through your product or programming. How will they care about environment/climate if they currently do not? Think about how to create value for all stakeholders, not just immediate beneficiaries - 33.3%

IMPACT MEASUREMENT: Provide specific instances of your social impact and how you plan to measure impact – it may be helpful to describe the beneficiaries, products and programming, and provide evidence of (or plan for) how to measure impact - 100%

VIABILITY: Make sure you have provided descriptive information about your financial sustainability plan. Where do the funds come from now and do you have a concrete plan for future sustainability? - 33.3%

Nothing – I thought everything was great! - 0%

Other option - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Megan Chen

Love what you guys are doing. I run an organization called The Urban Garden Initiative that has a similar focus and would love to partner/collaborate on some future projects! Feel free to reach me directly at

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