John Minkler, ACEL Program Director
ACEL students are becoming civic and entrepreneurial leaders, who can sustain communities in the midst of accelerating change and complex social, economic, and environmental crises. Classroom instruction reinforces the real-world relevance of academic skills, through hands-on projects to create improvements in our Fresno community. Project-based Learning makes education more interesting and relevant, as students form groups to address a specific issue or community problem. Through rigorous, standards-based projects, students learn about health, environment, technology, business, music, arts, cultural heritage, and civic responsibility. Students consult with experts and research the causes and potential solutions of the problem, before they design a project to make a real contribution to our community.
Examples of ACEL Projects:
- Students volunteer with Fresno Habitat for Humanity to support community events and build aplayground in Southwest Fresno.
- Students volunteer for Green 360 Careers, a partnership with WestEd and PG&E. Students map and share information on emerging green jobs, using a graphic information system.
- Physics class students work with PG&E advisors to learn to do energy audits.
- The Tribal Chair of the North Fork Mono Tribe leads students to work on watershed restoration projects on the San Joaquin River.
- Students built a vegetable garden in Chukchansi Stadium and give tours to demonstrate how fans can grow their own food at home.
- The ACEL Save Your Life team produced videos to inform teenagers about the dangers of depression, alcohol and drugs.
This project-based learning led to ACEL being awarded the Civic Learning Award of Distinction by the CA Department of Education. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said, “We honor the educators who translate civic education into creative and effective learning programs, thereby creating models for other educators, and we honor the students who participate in these active and inspiring learning communities.”
By applying the knowledge and skills they learn and serving their community, students take responsibility for their own education and they are empowered to become civic and entrepreneurial leaders.