Joel Tolman

Roles at NAAEE:

T3 Fellow

Director of Impact & Engagement
Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center

Joel Tolman leads work to make Common Ground a more effective and inclusive organization – with a focus on strategic planning, evaluation, community engagement, and work in partnership with like-minded organizations locally and nationally. Joel came to Common Ground as a classroom teacher in 2003. Through classes including Architecture, Documenting New Haven, El Caribe, and Power, Joel’s students explored and documented New Haven’s neighborhoods, monitored urban air quality, created bilingual oral histories of community elders, secured start-up funding for small social ventures, and presented policy proposals to state legislators.
In 2008, Joel became Common Ground’s Director of Development and Community Engagement. In this capacity, he more than doubled grant revenue and individual giving, helped to launch a major capital campaign, and secured the resources necessary to grow organizational reach significantly. Before joining the Common Ground staff, Joel worked for 5 years on high school reform and youth policy issues in Washington, DC – providing technical assistance to school districts and municipalities, writing a number of publications on youth leadership and development, and managing multi-site initiatives related to school reform and out-of-school time. He has a degree in environmental studies from Williams College, and a Master of Education in social studies education from George Washington University.

Fellowship Project

Teach City – a new project of Common Ground – aims to build the capacity of urban public high schools to grow a new, diverse generation of powerful environmental leaders and successful college students. Over the next two years, Common Ground will bring together educators, leaders, partners, and students from urban environmental high schools across the United States, with a particular focus on schools in the Northeast–creating a community of practice that both builds schools' capacity and documents their emerging best practices. Daylong, face-to-face learning exchanges among these schools – hosted by Common Ground and other partner schools – are the core of this project.
With the help of the T3 Accelerator, Common Ground is developing the online learning and exchange opportunities that complement these face-to-face experiences. These online resources will include a new Teach City web site built in Drupal, paired with tools for collaboration and learning provided by Google applications for education. The Gould Foundation, the Dalio Foundation, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental education grant program provide funding for Teach City.