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Community-Based Learning at New Roots

A vital dimension of New Roots Charter School is our connection with our community.

New Roots students engage in field studies and community service projects, internships and apprenticeships, and community-based capstone projects. Our Tuesday and Thursday schedules have been designed with the block scheduling and flexibility that allows teachers ample opportunity to schedule labs and activities in the field. A diverse group of community partners provide New Roots students with extensive internship and community service opportunities.

A core concept explored across the disciplines through community-based projects is the relationship between human and natural systems.  Exploring this "missing link" in traditional high school curriculum allows students to appreciate how the natural world supports our social and economic activity in our region, from the power generated from waterfalls and the commerce made possible by waterways, to how neighborhood development was impacted by our hills and wetlands.  Our classroom encompasses our many local parks and farms, partnerships with local nonprofits such as the Cayuga Nature Center and the Floating Classroom, our downtown neighborhoods, and Cornell and Ithaca College.

New Roots students can also be seen serving their community in partnership with many local organizations, including:

  • Reading/homework buddy groups at GIAC and Fall Creek After-School Program
  • Teaching technology skills to older adults at Lifelong
  • Playing games and doing crafts with residents at Beechtree Care Center
  • Sewing fuel- and money-saving "door snakes" for low-income residents using salvaged fabric at Sew Green
  • Building cold-frames with Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County for a Town of Ithaca community garden with locally-harvested locust wood
  • Refurbishing and recycling used computers through the Ithaca Youth Bureau's Computer All-Stars Program
  • Forming a peer education mental health role-playing theater troupe in collaboration with Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service

Students learn first-hand about community needs through ongoing service learning, a method of teaching, learning and reflecting that combines academic classroom curriculum with meaningful service. Research consistently shows that service-learning is a powerful way to engage students with diverse learning styles and levels of academic achievement, and that students who engage in service learning projects in high school are more likely to be community leaders later in life.


Community Resources

Addiction Resource - Raises awareness on the dangers of addiction and helps young adults stay drug-free.

Alternatives Federal Credit Union - Builds wealth and creates economic opportunity for undersurved people and communities.

CollegeNow - Tompkins Cortland Community College extension that provides quality college credit and connects faculty with school instructors to promote career pathways, clarify college expectations, and raise awareness of Tompkins Cortland and its resources.

Community Arts Partnership of Tompkins County - Secures, administers, and distributes grant funding to artists and arts organizations. 

Congo Square Market - A local market run by people of color: market food vendors, youth entrepreneurship program, entertainment, and #BlackLivesMatterIthaca.

Family & Children's Service of Ithaca - supports, promotes, and strengthens the well-being of individuals and families by providing high-quality, accessible mental health care and related social service, with a paritcular sensitivity towards the needs of children. 

Finger Lakes Permaculture Institute - Offers opportunities to learn regenerative, ecological design methods including workshops, study groups, apprentice programs, and the intensive Permaculture Design Certification Course.  

GreenStar Community Projects - A tax-exempt affiliate dedicated to making our food system more equitable, sustainable, and locally based. GSCP supports a variety of exciting initiatives around food justice and sustainability. 

Groundswell Center for Local Food and Farming - Groundswell Center engages diverse learners and empowers them with skills, knowledge and access to resources so they can build sustainable land-based livelihoods and equitable local food systems.

Hand in Hand Parenting - For parents leading healthy lives.

Healthy Food for All - HFFA provides low-income households with access to local produce through subsidized Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares and educational resources to support eating well year round.

Ithaca Underground - A 100% volunteer-run organization providing the people of Ithaca and the surrounding communities with an all-ages, radically inclusive environment for their do-it-yourself ambitions, ensuring that new and challenging music and art is available to all.

Ithacash - Ithacash turns everyday shopping into savings for you, revenue for local businesses and support for charitable causes. The Ithaca Dollar rewards shopping locally and save syou money in the new Ithacash Marketplace

Multicultural Resource Center -  MRC Engages in cultural and systemic transformation by building with our communities to eliminate barriers to racial justice, cultural dignity, equity and inclusion, and indigenous rights.

The CommonSpot - A vibrant, inclusive workspace shared by local mission-driven businesses and like-minded people where you can work, network, and collaborate on projects that are profitable and beneficial to the community. 

Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES - Identifies, proposes, and provides high quality services for childrena and all the customers served which are economical and efficient int heir operation, and which will complement the eduational programs provided by the local school districts and other agencies in our region.

Tompkins County Workers Center - Is working towards respect for all in the workplace, living wage, the right to organize, quality health care, housing, childcare, transportation, and access to healthy food and water. 

Quit Smoking Community - Helps parents stay healthy and tobacco-free for themselves and their children.

Vaping Daily - Supports the cause of promoting a healthier lifestyle through education and awareness.