• Views 2142
  • Favorites
Photo by Unseen Histories via Unsplash

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:
Feb 25, 2024
Ask a Question

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.


This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

Supporting Standards

  • Social Studies
    • Active Citizenship in the 21st Century - Civics, Government, and Human Rights
      • 6.3.8.CivicsPI.4: Investigate the roles of political, civil, and economic organizations in shaping people’s lives and share this information with individuals who might benefit from this information.
    • U.S. History: America in the World - Civics, Government, and Human Rights
      • 6.1.8.CivicsPI.3.c: Distinguish the powers and responsibilities of citizens, political parties, interest groups, and the media in a variety of governmental and nongovernmental contexts.

Note On Standards:

This lesson is aligned to SubjectToClimate standards. Review the aligned standards directly in the lesson plan document and teacher slideshow.

Discover more on SubjectToClimate.
Related Resources


Login to leave a review