Environmental Justice Academy

What is the Environmental Justice Academy?

The Environmental Justice Academy launched in the spring of 2023 and is an outgrowth of the Women's Environmental Leadership initiative. The Academy aims to promote environmental justice in communities of color by engaging the next generation in environmental awareness and advocacy. The program provides spaces and opportunities for young women and non-binary youth of color to explore the intersections of community, justice, and environment. 

Learn more about the Environmental Justice Academy

Each year, the Environmental Justice Academy, engages 35 youths living in communities in and near the Anacostia Watershed in explorations of the intersections of community, justice, and environment. Framed from the perspective and history of communities of color, guided in conversation by women whose work in multiple environmental spaces has effected change at local, regional, national, and international levels, participants will explore the pathways of Advocacy & Public Policy, Arts & Culture, Faith, and Inclusive Leadership.

EJA is open to any youth ages 14-18 from communities in and along the Anacostia River and its tributaries in Montgomery and Prince George's counties in Maryland and the District. Students from Northern Virginia are also encouraged to apply. Women, non-binary youth, and members of communities of color encouraged to apply. 

Throughout the Academy participants will engage in curriculum including hands-on STEAM learning activities related to watershed ecology and environmental justice, as well as receive career development and mentorship. Using a STEAM framework, participants will:  

  • Understand their communities’ role in the ecosystem of the Anacostia Watershed;  
  • Investigate the historical and present-day connection between the impacts of environmental injustice and communities of color. 
  • Map the ongoing relationships between the natural and built spaces that constitute their communities; 

  • Identify and explore issues of environmental inequity impacting their communities; 

  • Develop and present pathways to engagement and advocacy to a variety of community stakeholders;  

  • Explore educational and career opportunities

Individuals who are interested in applying should contact ACMEJAcademy@si.edu for more information. The 2025 cohort applications will open in late Fall 2024.

A group of individuals stand around a speaker in a museum gallery Hands on conversations

Students in the Environmental Justice Academy learn inside and outside the classroom, including opportunities to meet and speak with individuals throughout the Smithsonian. 

Individuals are on a boat with binoculars in hand looking out at the river In the field learning

An important part of the Environmental Justice Academy is learning about the Anacostia River and watershed while physically on the Anacostia River. This unique point of view allows the students to situate the knowledge they learn in the classroom, while seeing the diverse life of the river up close.

A student in the environmental justice academy delivers their capstone presentation at a podium with a screen behind them. Capstone presentations

Environmental Justice Academy students deliver capstone presentations at the end of their time in the academy. These presentations are delivered in front of their peers, families, and communities demonstrating not just what they learned during their time with the Academy, but also showcasing how pressing issues of environmental justice can be solved.

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