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Database Provider


Dan Castrigano


American History: 1865-Present, Body Systems, Government, Human Geography


6th, 7th, 8th


Social Studies, Civics, History, Geography


80 minutes

Regional Focus

North America, United States


Google Docs, Google Slides


This lesson plan is licensed under Creative Commons.

Creative Commons License

Redlining & Environmental Racism

Created By Teacher:
Last Updated:
Mar 4, 2024
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This lesson plan connects redlining with current issues of environmental and racial justice. 

Step 1 - Inquire: Teacher shares useful framing and definitions. Then students will explore the Mapping Inequality tool.

Step 2 - Investigate: Students explore various environmental justice case studies in groups. Each case study includes a specific city and one of the following: asthma rates, extreme heat, air pollution, and urban tree cover. Students will connect redlining to their case studies.

Step 3 - Inspire: Students discuss how redlining is related to their case studies and what should be done about these issues. Finally, students complete a written reflection.
Accompanying Teaching Materials
Teaching Tips

  • This environmental racism lesson plan clearly connects redlining in the 1930s and environmental injustice today.
  • This lesson is extremely powerful because students make the connection between redlined areas and their case studies. It is nuanced and will not always line up perfectly. Overwhelmingly, however, neighborhoods that were redlined are experiencing environmental injustice - higher rates of asthma, unbearable heat, air pollution, and less tree cover. It is an incredibly meaningful "aha moment" for the students.
Additional Prerequisites
  • There might be some pushback with those who do not understand racism.
  • Students might think “I’m not racist.” But it’s important to know that racism exists whether one perpetrates individual racist acts or not.
  • For some background information and definitions, use this resource from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist.
  • It may be useful to discuss how climate change is a “threat multiplier.” For things like urban heat islands and urban tree cover, climate change makes inequities even worse.
  • It may be best to group students of different abilities when they are exploring their case studies.

  • If you live in the United States you can adapt case study #4 - the American Forests Tree Equity Score Map - to whichever major city is closest to your school. The lesson is designed for students to explore Philadelphia, but students can simply look at any other city to make the connection between redlining and urban tree cover.
Scientist Notes

This is a thoroughly sourced and cited lesson plan. All of the external links meet our quality standards for accuracy and current information. Additionally, the external links are well-sourced, and the data is provided for tools like the Tree Cover Equity map. This lesson has passed our scientific quality assessment.


Primary Standards

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.13.6-8 Analyze the purposes, implementation, and consequences of public policies in multiple settings.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.2.6-8 Use maps, satellite images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
    • Dimension 2: History
      • D2.His.1.6-8 Analyze connections among events and developments in broader historical contexts.
    • Dimension 4: Taking Informed Action
      • D4.6.6-8 Draw on multiple disciplinary lenses to analyze how a specific problem can manifest itself at local, regional, and global levels over time, identifying its characteristics and causes, and the challenges and opportunities faced by those trying to address the problem.

Supporting Standards

  • College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Standards
    • Dimension 2: Civics
      • D2.Civ.1.6-8 Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of citizens, political parties, interest groups, and the media in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental contexts.
      • D2.Civ.6.6-8 Describe the roles of political, civil, and economic organizations in shaping people's lives.
    • Dimension 2: Economics
      • D2.Eco.1.6-8 Explain how economic decisions affect the well-being of individuals, businesses, and society.
    • Dimension 2: Geography
      • D2.Geo.4.6-8 Explain how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.
    • Dimension 4: Communicating and Critiquing Conclusions
      • D4.1.6-8 Construct arguments using claims and evidence from multiple sources, while acknowledging the strengths and limitations of the arguments.
  • National Health Education Standards
    • Standard 1: Students will comprehend concepts related to health promotion and disease prevention to enhance health.
      • 1.8.3 Analyze how the environment affects personal health.
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