2016, 2017


Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory

RiverGuides Plastic Pollution Education & Remediation Project

The Delaware River, which runs adjacent to Philadelphia and its suburbs, is plagued with plastic pollution and debris much like many of the urban waterways in the United States and around the world. Land-based litter makes its way down storm drains and streets, ultimately finding its way into the river where it collects along shorelines and impacts local wildlife.

Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory directly addressed this issue through their RiverGuides initiative, a year-round apprenticeship program in environmental sciences and stewardship designed for high-school youth. By engaging high-school participants in understanding where pollutants are coming from, where debris is collecting along the waterfront, and how its damaging impacts can be mitigated, PWBF empowered youth in northern Philadelphia to develop their own voice and use that voice to affect positive change in their region.

RiverGuides will leverage their knowledge to raise awareness among their own communities through workshops for local residents, targeted programs for middle school students, and community cleanup days that will enable youth and adults alike to take action to improve the health of the river and ensure its viability into the future.

  • Expansion of existing after-school RiverGuides program to include investigation of plastic pollutants that foul the Delaware River Watershed. Focus will be placed on addressing land-based litter and creating a group of young, community leaders to influence neighbors.
  • Provision of community-education workshops, trainings and a series of four neighborhood cleanup days reaching a minimum of 400 residents, deepening residents understanding of plastic pollutants and strategies for their remediation as well as establishing a corps of community volunteers to work alongside the RiverGuides.
  • Ongoing neighborhood and on-water collection and sampling, quantifying what is collected. Data processing, including integration of data into digital maps, and further engagement of others in the issue.
  • RiverGuides will introduce area middle school students to environmental issues impacting the Delaware River and serve as positive role models for environmental stewardship.

About Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory

Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory (PWBF) was founded in 1996 to provide high-school youth at risk of dropping out opportunities to re-engage in learning through hands-on, traditional wooden boat building. PWBF now provides low-income youth ages 12-21 with year-round, out-of-school-time apprenticeships in wooden boat building, sail making, and sailing (Boat, Build and Sail) as well as environmental science and stewardship (RiverGuides). PWBF works to foster positive self-image and a sense of personal agency among its participants, knowing that how youth think about themselves is profoundly influential on their potential for success.

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