Eco-Leadership Mobile App

Hybrid profit model, Hybrid IP model, Market Shaping Phase, Open to new members
A network of Eco-Clubs powered by a mobile app that empowers grassroots environmental education through games, art, and engaging activities.

The Problem

Environmental problems are the largest challenges currently facing humanity. Whether it is Species Extinction, Climate Change, Deforestation or Rising Sea Levels, all of the issues have a common root – human society’s mismanagement of our shared natural resources. And as more and more information comes to light about these issues it has become clear that this mismanagement has not been an accident of ignorance. It has been caused through purposeful human action and government policy. The motivation to willfully destroy the only planet we have is counter intuitive and hard to understand. Not only are we driving the sixth mass extinction we are also poisoning the only home we have access to. At Para La Tierra, we believe the source of this destructive behavior can be found in the way we learn about the environment. Until recently, the world was huge and needed to be explored. We saw natural resources as assets to be capitalized. However, we now know that what we thought was infinite is running out. We must find a way to educate our children to understand the true value of a healthy planet and give them the tools to understand responsible resource management. We are the generation that will have to transform our relationship from conquerors to care-takers. If we fail to provide youth leaders with the skills and knowledge necessary to lead this revolution, we are dooming them to a future of polluted oceans, smog filled skies, and expanding deserts.

Our Proposal

Voces de la Naturaleza (Voices of Nature) is a network of environmental Eco-Clubs that inspire youth to lead the way to a greener future through an innovative curriculum. Members are trained in life skills like public speaking and critical thinking so that they have the confidence and capacity to fulfil their potential as community leaders and changemakers. The Voces Curriculum empowers children to take action in their own community through ‘Action Projects.’ The children apply their critical thinking skills to solve local issues and improve their surrounding environment. The curriculum provides our facilitators with tools for planning and executing club activities that match international best practices. By adapting our Cloud-based curriculum to an Android app, we will be able to accelerate the expansion of our network of clubs across the country and, eventually, the world. Thanks to the high penetration of smart phone technology and wireless internet access in Paraguay, a mobile app will greatly increase the accessibility of our program. Our custom-built app will create an interface that provides teachers and volunteers instructional videos, lesson-planning templates, and hundreds of individual activities and games that can be used to engage their students in environmental themes. By putting the contents of our curriculum into the hands of new club facilitators, we will ensure that anyone anywhere can provide high quality environmental education to their community.

We Assume that...

We assume that community members are willing to spend time engaging their youth in environmental education.

We assume that teachers will be interested in receiving tools and fresh activities to use in their classrooms.

We assume that children will be enthusiastic about engaging in an extra curricular environmental club that focuses on connecting with nature and the outdoors.

We assume that parents will be supportive of their children's interest in Eco-clubs and value the development of confidence, creativity, and a connection to nature.

We assume that the Paraguayan government will be receptive to a cost-reducing innovation to their natural science curriculum.

We assume that learning about the environment at a young age is a powerful tool to reshaping our society's relationship with the natural world.

We assume that other countries could also benefit from the Voces de la Naturaleza program.

We assume that communities will support youth-led action projects that solve local problems identified by the children of the community.

We assume that early life action-projects will set a precedent in the minds of the children that will lead to more proactive lives focused on innovative solutions to problems and barriers.

We assume that a mobile app will be the most engaging way in which we can deliver our curriculum material and generate long term engagement of our facilitators in the Voces de la Naturaleza program

Constraints to Overcome

With an increased focus on standardized testing and STEM subjects, education systems around the world fail to focus their attention on training students in the soft skills necessary to becoming the dynamic leaders and changemakers our society so desperately needs. Here in Paraguay, a lack of investment in teacher training and curriculum development have created an environment in which one of South America’s fastest growing economies has the continent’s worst primary education system (WEF 2017). By creating a mobile app that will enable us to inject new material into the virtual curriculum, we will greatly reduce the cost of innovation in the classroom. Additionally, the curriculum is built to be customizable to the needs of each community, stimulating student-action projects that address real problems that the children themselves identify. The app will include a feedback feature that will allow for our team to develop a resource the responds to the needs of all of our facilitators.

Current Work

Our project goals are: 1. Develop a mobile app that contains all of the Voces de la Naturaleza curriculum, a video playing interface, and feedback feature 2. Recruit a network of over 1000 individuals dedicated to hosting Voces de la Naturaleza eco-clubs in their communities which reach 20,000 children spread across the country by the end of 2021. 3. Create new content for the curriculum to address the needs of newly recruited facilitators from the diverse areas of Paraguay and other parts of the world 4. Host 8 training and recruiting workshops around the country in 2019 in the most populated areas of Paraguay to maximize our reach. 5. Train 30 international volunteers to run eco-clubs in rural communities around Paraguay each year 6. Translate the curriculum content to all major languages and adapt the curriculum for use in other low-income countries. 7. Build partnerships with local government to continue expansion and use by public school teachers and administrators.

Current Needs

Our needs are: 1. Additional expertise in curricular development for state-based education in public schools. 2. Increased funding to pay for the development of a mobile app which will be accessible to a wider range of communities 3. Increase our team to accelerate the development of new material with a focus on linking existing material with state-based standards as well as producing instructional videos and best-practices guides. 4. Language expertise for the indigenous language of Guarani to translate our materials to the second official language of Paraguay 5. Additional computer equipment to facilitate the work by new employees. 6. Funding for recruitment trips spread across the country.