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Pioneers Change the World


The Pioneers Change the World Project responded to the local and regional needs of North Carolina after the impacts of Hurricane Florence by focusing on the question, "What is our responsibility as Pioneers to address suffering in our community?"

We can change the world.

- Student Reflection


Listening to Stories of Those Impacted by Hurricane Florence

To start, students were immersed in stories regarding the devastation of Hurricane Florence on the community. Students participated in restorative justice circles and a number of other activities to deepen their understanding and empathy and critique of power. These activities culminated in students creating their own mission statements – as defined by the role that they would play in addressing suffering in the community. Rooted in their passion and skills, students’ focus areas included education, animals, hunger and pollution.

Focusing on Resource Collection and Distribution

Students set out to identify action steps aligned to current relief efforts with regards to their selected focus area. They also prioritized community perspective. As a result, they gathered information about the actions of others, they conducted strategic outreach based on their focus area and they interviewed community members impacted by the hurricane. After all of the work of this stage – focused on education, animals, hunger and pollution – students discussed the importance and impact of combining their collective efforts around resource collection and distribution.

Partnering to Have a Collective Impact

Students designed a blueprint and executed on a plan to collectively gather resources and distribute them appropriately to meet a variety of needs identified by community members with regards to education, animals, hunger and pollution. Students identified families, local schools, animal shelters and homeless shelters and women’s shelters and other community organizations to learn from and partner alongside in their strategic efforts. Through the process, students collected approximately 4,000 items to be distributed, cleaned local parks, visited local shelters and community organizations and actively engaged in a collective effort to support those impacted by Hurricane Florence.

Discussing Success and Opportunities for Growth

As a reflective component of their work, students presented to peers, families, teachers and community leaders at the Project-Based-Learning Expo. At this event students discussed their successes and opportunities for growth, named their insights and gathered feedback from others. In addition, students have been able to make connections with curriculum as they have learned about natural disasters and the importance of social-emotional learning.


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