Keep It Clean - Neighborhood Environmental Trios (KIC-NET)


“Their process seamlessly integrates STEM, individual skills development for youth, and community engagement. Participants gain essential skills they will be able to apply in any setting."

-- Janelle Johnson PhD, STEM Education professor, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Teacher Development/Training
Hands on/Project-Based
College Readiness

Target Audience

All Students

Low Socio-Economic Status

Teachers/Educational Leaders


New Mexico


Pre-K - 5
Grades 6 - 8
Grades 9 - 12

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

KIC-NET aims to reach at least 3,500 students in 60 schools by 2017.

To date, more than 1,200 students made 5,000 visits to 11 outdoor learning sites through KIC-NET. Through KIC-NET, students take classroom content around science and math standards and apply that knowledge to solve real-life environment issues in their community, deepening their understanding of STEM and STEM-related careers.

After using STEM tools to identify root causes of increased stormwater runoff, students planned and implemented 20 action projects, including hosting neighborhood water festivals, writing and distributing brochures on green infrastructure, and waging a media campaign to raise awareness and funds for dog waste clean-up along riverside trails.


Program Overview

Kic-NET is an award-winning approach to hyperlocal urban watershed education that engages youth in environmental problem-solving. KIC-NET combines STEM learning, civic engagement, and environmental education.

Run by international nonprofit, Earth Force, KIC-NET (Keep It Clean – Neighborhood Environmental Trios) operates in partnership with government agencies, businesses, schools, and local parks. Using the Earth Force Community Action and Problem-Solving Process, a six-step instructional model, youth explore root causes of stormwater runoff, moving from community inventorying to action projects. Working together as a class, students partner with local engineers to conduct water-quality monitoring and investigation of their city. Then students use their data to design and implement a project that addresses a policy or practice related to the environmental issue that they identify.

KIC-NET reimagines the Clean Water Act’s required “stormwater education and outreach” as authentic “integrated instructional units,” a Next Generation Science Standards term, thereby meeting the needs of urban educators and their students. Each KIC-NET – comprised of a school, a park, and a surface water source, all in close proximity – becomes the students’ learning laboratory. KIC-NET provides an innovative way to meet a city’s stormwater permit requirements, offering a real-time response to the rapid increases in stormwater from our changing climate. 

How To Get Involved

Immediate opportunities in Denver and Albuquerque are available for volunteers to engage in water monitoring opportunities, in-the-classroom support around STEM careers, and project judging and logistical assistance at the annual Youth Summits. Earth Force is seeking to expand to three additional KIC-NET cities in 2015-16. Each new network of 5-10 schools requires $60,000 investment for two years of program implementation. Monetary commitments of $5,000 - $10,000 for annual Youth Summits are also needed.

Funders and Partners
  • U.S. EPA
  • City and County of Denver
  • City of Albuquerque
  • Friends of the Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge
  •  CH2M Foundation
  • Toyota TogetherGreen
  • Fisher Science Education
  • LaMotte 


Donny Roush, Director for Uncommon Collaboratives

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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.