How to Participate

The 2020-21 Redford Center Stories Environmental Justice Storytelling Initiative for students is open to students in 5th-8th grades (ages 10-14) and the educators that support them, across any kind of learning environment and no matter where they are in the world.  If you’d like to use this program with older students, please let us know.  This program/project is free to all participating educators and students.  After sign-up (see button below), participating teachers and collaborators have access to project curriculum, events, challenges, and other offerings.  We hope you will join us, and look forward to being in touch!


Learning Community

After signing up, educators will be invited to join a Learning Community that will:

  • Bring educators together with filmmakers, youth activists, and environmental/social justice leaders
  • Support connections between educators across subjects/disciplines, and across the country
  • Provide deeper exploration of themes related to environmental justice, protection and repair
  • Help cultivate deeper connection between educators and community organizations
  • Create new opportunities for learning with organizations and youth activists about advocacy and action
  • Celebrate the wisdom, creativity, gifts, and talents of all students


Participating Educators Receive

  • Free access to a Learning Journey that integrates environmental restoration, social justice and transformational storytelling (integrative and applicable across Science, History, English, Math, the Arts, and clubs).
  • Participation in a national and intergenerational online Learning Community.
  • Online Community Dialogues for educators featuring activists, scientists, educators, artists, and more.
  • Online Youth Councils for students with youth activists and filmmakers on advocacy and narratives that inspire action.
  • A 10-lesson curriculum + 5 bonus lessons (standards-integrated) with writing prompts and narrative exercises, conversation ideas, resources, media, extension ideas (as printable PDFs + digital materials).
  • Frequent mini-challenges for students (can be used as assessments), + a Final Challenge (90-second student film).
  • Office Hours with the Stories team to help with technology integration/video production, and featuring educators.
  • Access to special events celebrating program participants.


Intentions for Students

Through the Redford Stories Project, students will:

  • Explore and deepen their own relationship to the natural world and their local environment.
  • Cultivate different perspectives (lenses) on issues of environmental/community degradation and regeneration.
  • Learn techniques for listening, interviews, collecting/using data, film composition, purpose-driven storytelling.
  • Envision, write and tell critical stories that can inspire and directly impact local and global action for a more environmentally sustainable and socially just world; in ways only youth can do.
  • Lead an intergenerational dialog around environmental impacts and greater reciprocity with the Earth.
  • Join a joyful, collaborative, synchronous learning community for collective Earth-activism and constructive hope.
  • Create films that embolden generations of environmentalists as inheritors and designers of the future.


Final Challenge Films Submissions

The learning journey will culminate in a Final Challenge that invites students to submit a 90-second video clip created on Apple Clips and using the storytelling and skills learned/practiced throughout the learning journey.

For the Final Challenge, students will identify and research a story idea to create an impactful short video (90 seconds or less) that may focus on an aspect of environmental justice, projection and repair that is meaningful to them.  Films will become part of a celebration of youth visions and voices from across the country.  Educators and students will need access Apple Clips video editing software for Final Challenge submissions (a free iOS app for making and sharing fun videos with text, effects, music and graphics).  If technology access is an issue for your students, please let us know–we’d love to find ways for this Final Challenge to work for everyone!


Final Challenge Video Submissions (by March 31, 2021)

A submission portal for 90-second student films will open December 9, 2020 and remain open until March 31, 2021.  All films need to be submitted to The Redford Center by an educator or adult sponsor in order to qualify for inclusion in The Redford Stories 2020-21 Final Film Challenge.  More details will be provided to participating educators/adults. Educators or adult sponsors are responsible for obtaining student releases, parent permissions, and approving and uploading all submissions. To submit projects, participating teachers and adults will log in to the educator portal at and upload films into the “submit project” area of the site.

Final Challenge high achievement categories and 2020-21 Judges will be announced later this Winter, and all student participants will be invited to celebrate their accomplishments as part of a film showcase in April 2021.




Criteria to Consider for Student Filmmakers


❏ What story are you inspired to tell?
❏ Who is your intended audience?
❏ What do you want your audience to feel?
❏ What do you want your audience to do (what impact do you want your film to have)?


❏ Is your story credible, based on facts that you researched?
❏ Did you get permission, and provide credit in your film for any content you used that was not your own?
❏ Did you seek out unlikely perspectives, characters and/or unexpected ideas for your film? 


❏ Does your story contain a message and action step that inspires you and others to get involved?
❏ Is there a pathways forward or solution featured that people can learn from and get behind?
❏ Did you offer a message, vision, or idea for the future; that invites people into a new possibility with you?
❏ Is your story hopeful? In other words, does your story convey optimism about the future? 


❏ Is your story a reflection on your own experience, a new idea, or a new way of thinking about an old idea?
❏ Did you use humor, parody or other artistic convention to convey the message?
❏ Does your film use elements—like narration, music, sounds, text, still images, etc.—to create a distinct visual style?