CBPR Institute 2013

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H2O Productions


Project Overview: H20 Productions

Since, 2006 Dr. Akom has been working with a groups of youth in the Bay Area around issues of environmental justice, eco-sustainability and educational equity. The name of the group I am collaborating with this year is H20 lead by Tiffani Johnson an extraordinary teacher, SFSU graduate, and current PH.D. candidate at UC Berkeley (beginning fall 2013).  H20 is an urban environmental education and youth empowerment program created specifically to address the unique ecological, educational and social concerns of urban youth living in the “toxic triangle” that runs from Richmond, CA through the city of Berkeley CA, to Oakland, CA and across the bay bridge to Bay View Hunters Point.  Within this triangle, industrialization, decentralization, residential and school segregation are keys to understanding the ways that racism structures educational outcomes even in one of the most liberal regions of the United States. Because race is highly correlated with industrial pollution in the Bay Area and beyond, youth of color are far more likely than whites to live in neighborhoods where industrial pollution is suspected of posing the greatest health danger.


H20 Productions, in partnership with Dr. Antwi Akom SFSU, I-SEEED, KIPP Bayview Academy (KBA) and Leadership High School (LHS), strengthens students’ critical thinking, cultural awareness, academic engagement, and self-expression. Our “school-to-community pipeline” lays a foundation for students to make positive choices, value their communities, succeed in school, and return to their underserved communities with the skills and resources needed to restore those communities.


H2serves more than 400 students each year, advancing a culture of nonviolence, academic achievement, and community building at KBA and LHS. H20 engages students through 1) after-school arts and media activities, 2) school-wide cultural events, 3) annual student leadership retreats, and 4) an education cohort pilot study using a research-based, community-oriented academic curriculum and implementation model based on the successful East Oakland Step to College study.

Presentation Video


PI-Professor-Mentor/Antwi A. Akom, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Environmental Sociology, Public Health, and STEM Education at San Francisco State University and is the Founding Director of the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational, and Environmental Design (I-SEEED), which focuses on building sustainable cities and schools. Professor Akom has collaborated with schools, community groups, policy makers and researchers to improve the lives and living conditions of poor people of color in the Bay area and around the world.

He is nationally and internationally recognized for his work on culturally and community responsive STEM pedagogy including research and studies on GIS mapping and technological innovation, food security/justice, community- driven sustainability development, and youth/community-based participatory action research.

He is the Director of STEM education for $30M East Bay Green Corridor Partnership an innovative collaboration designed to create a thriving region of clean technology, innovation, and sustainable community development that generates high quality jobs and meets social and environmental goals. Professor Akom is a 2011 recipient of the New Connections Junior Health Investigator Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a 2010 recipient of the SFSU RIMI awarded funded by the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities that examines the joint use of schools as places to improve individual and community health.  More recently Professor Akom is a 2013 Finalist for the Echoing Green Award for his work on workforce development and STEM education.  Professor Akom has held academic appointments at UC Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the University of California, San Francisco, Health Policy Institute. His forthcoming books are Building Sustainable Cities and Schools and Ameritocracy: The Enviornmental Determinants of Educational Success.

Project Lead:  Tiffani Marie Johnson (Ph.D. Candidate UC Berkeley) is the Director of Student Life at KIPP Bayview, English Literature Instructor within the University of San Francisco Upward Bound Project and the Co-director of H2O Productions, a multi-faceted arts program for urban youth.  Additionally, she continues as an academic advisor at Leadership High School and coach within San Francisco, where for the past 6 years she has practiced and studied the use of critical pedagogy in urban schools. She pursued Education in her undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley and continued her research within San Francisco State’s Equity & Social Justice graduate program. Johnson’s interests span the areas of urban schooling and curriculum change, urban teacher development and retention, critical pedagogy, cultural and ethnic studies and arts.
YPAR Project co-leads/ISEEED technical assistance
Aaron Nakai is a critical educator who has served as a trainer, mentor, and youth development specialist in a variety of community and education spaces for the past 13 years. His graduate studies include a Master’s of Education focused on Equity and Social Justice from San Francisco State University. He is currently the Program Director of Health Equity and Community Engagement at the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational and Environmental Design (I-SEEED) in Oakland, CA. His work includes designing health and environmental equity curriculum, implementing community-based action research projects, and co-teaching early college/model high school classes in urban ecology, ethnic studies and environmental justice. He is an expert facilitator who trains youth and youth-serving adults to develop a range of projects for low-income youth of color, their families, and their communities.Aekta Shah is currently the Program Director of Technology and Youth Engagement at the Institute for Sustainable Economic, Educational and Environmental Design (I-SEEED).  At I-SEEED, Aekta is engaged in research and development on issues including  technology, GIS mapping, education and sustainable community development.  Prior to joining I-SEEED, she worked with Boston Public School District as a researcher and case study writer and was previously the Director of Youth Programs at the Institute at the Golden Gate, a partnership of the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Committed to providing  college and career opportunities to traditionally underserved youth, Aekta has been recognized by organizations such as the Aspen Institute, Green for All, Bioneers and has presented for the UN on issues of sustainable development and education. In 2005, Aekta founded the Big Green Bus project, a cross-country, waste vegetable oil-fueled journey across the U.S. to promote sustainable development. Aekta holds an Ed.M in Education Policy and Management from Harvard and a B.A. in Developmental Psychology and Education from Dartmouth College.

Jaquez Donaldson, Leadership High School, 10th Grade…enjoys developing his artistry. He’s a rapper

Alasia Allah, Leadership High School, 10th grade…developing youth and educator workshops on social justice

Oswaldo Santos, Leadership High School, 10th grade…developing a 10 point plan for the Tenderloin district. rights for youth…developing collaborative for police and youth to develop safe and thriving communities

Torrell Gray, Leadership High School, 10th grade…enjoys developing his artistry. He’s a rapper…challenged to create uplifting, community restorative lyrics/albums.

Jonathan Torres, Leadership High School, 10th grade…developing a museum exhibit that displays the critical literacies and portraits of Tupac, Bob Marley, Paulo Freire & Luis Rodriquez. Wants to use art to express critical literacy.Joseph Reagans, Leadership High School, 10th grade…developing a clothing line called Dream, Hustle, Reality (D.H.R)

Adrian Gonzalez, Leadership High School, 10th grade…creating a mural project that unites artists through the process of creating the mural

Nely Rodriguez, Leadership High School, 10th grade…developing her own television show that addresses capitalism, racism and police brutalityMateo Rosales-Cisneros, Leadership High School, 10th grade…creating a basketball league within LHS that promotes academic achievement and solidarity.

Eduardo Aguayo, Leadership High School, 10th grade…creating a book that analyzes the similarities between soccer formations and community restoration. He’s calling his strategy soccer literacy. Arguing that many young people have sports literacies and success on the court and field but lack the transfer skills for success within society.
Jordan Brooks, Leadership High School, 10th grade…creating a clothing line called, Crazed Clothing. seeks to use the proceeds to impact youth programs in West Oakland
Sheana Soriano, Leadership High School, 10th grade…creating a magazine called Maganda (Beautiful in Tagalog) that explores oppression within the modeling industry. She seeks to use “realistic” pictures of “normal looking” people and use their stories to represent their true beauty.Jada Lyons, Leadership High School, 10th grade…creating a book club that starts with a book drive. they are asking for books that have impacted people’s lives. She wants the project to evolve into a book club, in which they read the works of youth who have overcome struggle. The project will culminate with the group creating a book with their stories of struggle and success.


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