Group of students in front of a mural
Student high-fiving a child at a church
Planting at a community garden
Students taking a break from construction for lunch
Farmer discussing life with a student
Group of students on some steps in Central America
Group of students after a hike
Students meeting with community leaders
Cleaning up trash in our environment
Group of students after another hike
Students helping to build a wooden cattle fence
Man speaking to a group of students

Learning by Doing

During their second year in INVST, in a collaboration with the community, students create their own projects. They develop leadership skills by researching, designing, implementing and evaluating community-based initiatives. The Community SOL (Serving - Organizing - Leading) Projects, as we call them, serve as models for the students' lifetime endeavors.

In small groups, the INVST students take the following steps during their second year together in skills classes. These steps prepare them for their year-long community-based projects for social and environmental justice:

  • INVST students identify justice issues that impact their lives
  • They conduct interviews to learn more from other stakeholders in the broader Boulder/Denver area
  • They code their interviews and surface claims about the issue
  • They develop project proposals based on their claims
  • They design action plans and a timeline, then present their plans to the INVST community and receive feedback
  • INVST students then design evaluation tools
  • They implement their projects
  • They evaluate the results
  • Finally, they present their accomplishments to the INVST community

After completing a Community SOL Project, an INVST student has the tools, skills, and experience they need to work successfully with a small group toward a common goal. Many go on to become the leaders of local institutions, work successfully for non-profits or activist organizations or work on political campaigns, run for office, or perhaps start their own community-based initiative or small business.

There are many impressive examples of past work that INVST students have done as SOL Projects. The first-ever Forward Food Summit was a SOL Project, which is an event that brings together food justice activists annually. INVST students have also created a project that worked with former District Attorney Stan Garnett to create a wage theft reporting and prevention program, protecting immigrant workers from discrimination and exploitation. Community SOL Projects by INVST students have helped start Swap, a free English tutoring program for immigrant workers on campus; and fought for passage of Colorado ASSET, state legislation that helps undocumented youth afford college.

Here are some additional examples of past INVST student projects: