In 1993, volunteer Bob Hopper helped students paint flowers on burned down buildings.View Gallery
Out of trauma comes innovation. The Los Angeles-based non-profit Children’s Enrichment Program developed the full-circle learning model as a response to community need. The initial project was launched following the civil unrest of 1992 in Los Angeles, to help children caught in the maelstrom of the times. Its early volunteers from various community organizations served the Baldwin Hills neighborhood, working in space donated by the Baha’i community. The need for long-term organic change suggested the need for a curriculum that would help students develop a deeper sense of purpose for their lives and in their learning, as change agents and as humanitarians within their own community. Eventually, the name of the organization and its collaborating sites changed to reflect the model, Full-Circle Learning.
This research-based, time-tested educational approach quickly attracted the interest of the broader learning community. Now many towns, villages and cities have been exposed to Full-Circle Learning. Each community adapts the learning plan to the community needs, education standards, human resources and cultural complexities of its region. Universal values that honor local traditions — this is the key to the model's success.
By the first decade of the new century, the work received numerous citations. The Academy of Educational Development (A.E.D.) awarded the organization its promising practices award in 2003 for nurturing altruistic identities. The program made history the following year as the first child-centered non-profit serving to receive the John Anson Ford Award -- for encouraging students to improve academically while reaching across cultural boundaries. Accolades also came through a Human Rights award, for helping children of migrant workers meaningfully contribute to society. FCL student work from several countries appeared at the Nobel Peace Prize Center in Oslo as part of an exhibit on peace and the environment in 2008.
By 2009, the linked collaborations and mentorships had touched thousands of lives in a dozen countries. A collaboration of the for-profit and non-profit communities, including two departments of the United Nations and Fraser Communications, recently resulted in the development of a climate change curriculum to advance the sustainable development goals of the international community, making the potential impact even greater.
Full-Circle Learning’s integrated education model has been taught in every application, including universities, public schools, charter schools, private schools, preschools, home schools and service learning clubs. As educators reach out to one another, they unite to give learners role models and roadmaps for their evolving lives.