Future City Lab: Improving Your Community

Social Studies

Grade Level: 8-12
Keywords: Community, Community Based Organization, Mission Statement, Proposal, Advocate, Activist

Essential Question

  • How do you identify an opportunity to affect positive change in your community?
  • How do you plan and prepare to implement a project to make that change?


  • Students will learn about different community based organizations.
  • Students will explore what they can do to support their own community.
  • Students will generate a plan for a community-based project.


Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.

  1. Homework
  2. Have students look up and identify community based organizations and advocates/activists in their neighborhood. Some information about community based organizations is available on the New York City Department of Education website: http://schools.nyc.gov/community/city/cbo. The teacher can model this research beforehand in class or locate resources that apply to the school’s community and ask students to look exclusively at those organizations.

  3. Write
  4. Have students fill out the Improving Community Worksheet about one of the community based organizations they found. 

  5. Discuss
  6. Have students share information about the organizations. Prompt them to answer the follow questions: What problems are the groups addressing? How are they affecting change? Who started the organization? How is it organized? Are there any changes they can identify about organization that happened over time (grown, shrunk, adapted to different needs or populations)? Who is most impacted by the organization?

  7. Group Work
  8. In small groups, have students discuss what is important to their communities. What areas do they see for improvement? What are some approaches to making this change? 

  9. Independent Work
  10. Have students decide on one issue that is most important to them and fill out the Community Project Form for creating their project. 


New York at Its Core lesson plans were developed in conjunction with a focus group of K-12 New York City teachers from public, private, and parochial schools: Maryann Cooke, Maria Diaz, Sasha Domnitz, William Fong, Gina Giannone, Peter Lapre, Edina Lawson, James Randle, Judy Sokolow, and Matt Thoren. We thank the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Social Studies for supporting the public school teachers’ participation.