Register Today: EL Education 2021 Virtual Summit

Better World Day 2021

Better World Day 2021: Friday May 7, 2021

In 2021, thousands of students from the EL Education network took action on Better World Day to co-create a better world in partnership with their local communities, connected with each other, and celebrated meaningful student work. It was a day where we got to experience school the way our students do every day: as a place where learning is the key to changing the world.

Relive the action by watching the opening and closing circles.

Better World Day is made possible by a generous gift from the Klingenstein Foundation made in honor of Lee P. Klingenstein (1927-2020). Lee Klingenstein, EL Education's Founding Chair, was deeply passionate about providing students with meaningful opportunities to contribute to their communities.

Featured Projects

EL Education schools in Kenosha, Wisconsin

After a year of civil unrest in their city, the EL Education schools in Kenosha, Wisconsin came together to launch the “just say hello” campaign to spread kindness and starting point to build a better tomorrow.

Columbine Elementary in Denver, Colorado

Students from Columbine Elementary in Denver, Colorado examined how history shapes the stories that students learn about in school and explored how to infuse diverse voices into their learning.

Getting Smart

As a part of Better World Day, Getting Smart highlighted the many EL Education schools “getting smart to do good” across the country.

Join the Conversation Online

Explore Better World Day that took place across the country by following the #BetterWorldDay hashtag on social media and share your own Better World Day stories online.

Better World Day Media Grants

Congratulations to the five schools who were awarded the Better World Day Media Grants! Selected by the EL Education Student Advisory Council, these schools will work directly with the EL Education media shop to create high quality Better World Day media that will be featured at EL Education’s 2021 National Conference. The winning schools are:

Conway Elementary School, Escondido, CA: Fifth and sixth grade students will take action to promote equal rights in their own community by creating a community mural that depicts human rights issues, the fight for social justice, equal rights to all and a sense of pride for their school and community.

Elgin Math and Science Academy, Elgin, IL: Kindergarten through fifth grade students address racial inequities and advocate for antiracist philosophy with their public art project, “Stand Up Stumps.” Students share messages of unity and understanding on beautifully painted, repurposed tree stumps to be installed throughout their city.

Kenosha EL Education Schools, Kenosha, WI: Students from five EL Education schools in Kenosha partner to promote healing and growth in their city. Students explore and document the community artwork that sprung up after Jacob Blake was shot in their community, including messages of hope and unity.

Sierra Academy of Expeditionary Learning, Nevada City, CA: High school students serve and raise awareness with California Heritage Indigenous Research Project (, a non-profit in their town dedicated to researching, documenting and preserving the history and culture of the Nevada City Rancheria Nisenan Tribe. Students engage in a virtual service project and weave the story of their work into a short video containing artwork inspired by the occupied land that they live, love, and work on.

Columbine Elementary School, Denver, CO: Elementary students raise the voices of Black Lives, Women, Indigenous, Students with Learning Differences and ALL Voices in their school and local community by creating a Better World Day mural depicting the story of Columbine and its surrounding neighborhood.

FAQ for School Partners

2020 Events

In 2020, thousands of students took action for Better World Day by creating videos, paintings, sidewalk chalk creations, letters, and cards of appreciation for those who were demonstrating courage and kindness by helping others during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic—and posting them on social media with #BetterWorldDay. Follow hashtag #BetterWorldDay here and across social media to see how students took action in communities around the country!

2019 Events

From homeless outreach and advocacy in Bemidji, Minnesota, to trail maintenance in Kettle Falls, Washington, students at EL Education partner schools made their mark on the world in 2019! Below is a peek at the student-led events, representing just a handful of the 100+ activities that took place across the country.

Students and communities posted updates across all social media channels with hashtag #BetterWorldDay.

Brooklyn, NY: Launch Expeditionary Learning Charter School

Middle school students work to end hunger in their community by planting at two Brooklyn farm sites, stocking a local food pantry, and creating packages for area children experiencing homelessness for the Campaign Against Hunger.

Detroit, MI: Detroit Public Schools Community District

Fifth-grade students at eight schools in the Detroit Community District are working to make literacy a civil right for their city. After studying The Universal Declaration of Human Rights through the EL Education K-5 Language Arts curriculum, they'll apply their knowledge to building and painting Little Free Libraries, hosting a book drive to stock them, and donating them to deserving local aid organizations.

Chicago, IL: Polaris Charter Academy

Students from kindergarten through 8th grade conduct research, engage partners, and complete community-improvement projects to address the abandoned properties and disinvestment surrounding their school.

Bend, OR: Realms High School

Tenth-graders advocate for humane and thoughtful treatment of the people living in a homeless encampment near their campus. Their "Power and Privilege" expedition culminates in students presenting a well-researched action plan to local agencies and to the community during an unveiling and donation drive.

Sturbridge, MA: Old Sturbridge Academy Charter Public School

Students lead a community-wide tree planting, starting on their own campus with a ceremony and celebration. Then, students spread out to other district communities to perform identical plantings throughout the region.

Muncie, IN: Inspire Academy

Students help clean up the polluted White River as part of an expedition titled "Sustaining Ecosystems," based on the EL Education Language Arts curriculum texts, "A World Without Fish" and "Flush."

Alpharetta, GA: Amana Academy

Younger students beautify community spaces by creating seed pods, bird feeders, and decorative planters; older students work to combat flooding at a local park and help build a tiny house for a local person in need.

Dorchester, MA: Codman Academy Charter Public School

Older students partner with local organizations to address hunger and homelessness in Boston, while younger students create pollinator gardens at six sites in nearby Codman Square.

Kettle Falls, WA: Kettle Falls High School

Students partner with the city of Kettle Falls, the National Park Service, and the Kettle Falls School District to complete service projects including trail maintenance, campground cleanup, and landscaping for the local library.

Kenosha, WI: Vernon Elementary

Elementary students help provide for local children in foster care by creating "Sweet Cases" filled with blankets, activities, and stuffed animals. Their collaboration with Together We Rise, a nonprofit for Foster Children, helps children going to new homes.

Bemidji, MN: Schoolcraft Learning Community

Students create first-aid kits for people experiencing homelessness as part of their expedition "How To Save a Life." This follows their study of CPR and first-aid training and research on how natural disasters and weather affects communities.

Check out all 100 student events that took place on Better World Day 2019 here.


More than 50,000 students, educators, and community members, and counting! These citizens are stepping up to serve their communities. With so many involved in one day of service, imagine the impact 1,000,000 EL students have had every day throughout 25 years of "getting smart to do good."

Better World Day in Flint, Michigan: A Catalyst for Contribution (Subtitled) from EL Education on Vimeo.

In the News

Better World Day caught fire last year! See highlights of 2019 media coverage from across the country:

Better World Day in Portland, Maine: A Higher Purpose from EL Education on Vimeo.