A New Perspective Sparks Change

Group of Students

In Clarksville, Tennessee, not far from Nashville, a group of teens, with help from the AT&T Pioneers, found a unique way to share their conservation stories and spark environmental change in their hometown.

In September 2021, AT&T Pioneers awarded Manifest Magic: Black Girl Cooperative in partnership with Amanda Blount Photography, a $4000 community grant to form the Urban Eco Lens Club. The grant was used to purchase cell phones and computers for the program so marginalized students could take on leadership roles and participate in ecological, environmental, and conservation community projects.

The program’s goal: give students the tools and teach them how to document and tell their personal conservation and environmental stories to foster change in their communities.

The students met weekly for eight weeks and focused on unearthing a local environmental or conservation problem unique to an urban setting. They then discovered how to present the problem to the public and government agencies and gain support for solving it through non-traditional technology. They also learned how to write press releases and use social media to share information with the public.

This new program increased the students’ awareness of environmental and ecological issues in their communities and how those issues affect them and their families. Finding ways to use non-traditional technology to voice their concerns for environmental and conservation issues helped them see – and share – their world through a new lens. By advocating for change, the students grew as leaders.

The first class (pictured) graduated December 18, 2021.