Harvesting Humanity Inspires Youth to Solve Domestic and Global Problems

By John Burton Jr.

Education-related inequity remains a concerning issue in many underserved communities. Various challenges, such as insufficient allocation of resources, limited human capital and lack of motivation, impede not only the learning outcomes of individual students but also the educational progress of the entire community. Neglecting the issue of education equity can lead to the widening of economic and social disparities within underserved areas.

Harvesting Humanity is working to change this. Founded in 2017, the youth-driven, experiential learning out-of-school time program was designed to provide all learners with diverse opportunities to engage in meaningful, equitable, sustainable, collaborative discussions and discoveries that confront and dismantle inequities, stereotypes and “isms” that divide our local, national and global communities. The organization also builds strong 21st-century leadership skills, cultivates cultural intelligence in tandem with advanced literacy competencies and innovates viable, art-transpired solutions to problems in our communities.

Eboné Lockett, founder and CEO of Harvesting Humanity, drew inspiration for the name during a presentation at the Moldova Bilateral Partnership committee meeting in Raleigh. As Lockett shared her school-to-school collaboration activities and outcomes, a presenter before her shared that their business had not only provided potatoes but also transferred the skills to grow and harvest them domestically. “As I took the stage and began to share, I was moved to add that we are harvesting more than potatoes,” Lockett said. “We are harvesting humanity,” she added.

Lockett’s educational background included a holistic and experiential approach from a young age. An amorist of the English language, Lockett was a published poet by the age of 13. Her poetic ability gave her the artistic space to articulate and translate a world of her life’s experience earlier in life than may have been possible for others at that age.  

With a dual undergraduate degree in English and psychology from Central Connecticut State University, and a master’s degree in educational leadership from Fairfield University, Lockett utilized this fusion of studies to serve this unique fusion of the educational and experiential to begin serving her community, near and far.

Harvesting Humanity has five key initiatives listed below, which are designed, co-designed and/or led by the organization. Each aspect of their work is deliberate, intersectional and structured to be adaptable and tailored to individual needs, Lockett said.

  • Fitness for All: A two-month healthy eating and active living experience in conjunction with the Public Health Department and other partners, that offers synchronous and asynchronous opportunities for diverse and differently-abled local, national, and global communities to engage, and put into daily practice of healthy eating and active living habits from cooking to mind and physical exercise.
  • Climates of Inequality: In partnership with the Humanities Action Lab, University of Connecticut–Hartford, City of Hartford, Hartford Public School System, Hartford Public Libraries, and a host of local, national and global network partners, Harvesting Humanity is co-producing a story to add to the “Climates of Inequality” traveling exhibit.
  • E.A.T. with Humanity: An innovative research, learning and leadership experience that engages and centers impacted communities by deepening their awareness, understanding and examination of intersecting climate, environmental and social justice issues.
  • Pupil to Practitioner: Deepening the engagement with K-12 schools, agricultural extensions and wider environmental justice communities to co-design curricula and experiences that prepare, position and promote hyperlocal conservationists.
  • L.E.A.P. Forward: Recruitment of high school students to co-design and participate in hands-on research that includes elements of laboratory research and field sampling. The students will discover, explore and work to mitigate issues related to water cycling throughout homes, schools, businesses and neighborhoods.

With these key initiatives in place, Lockett said championing Harvesting Humanity isn’t difficult. “Support the social good by hiring us, partnering with us, and sharing contracts and social capital with us,” she said.

A decorated educator, winning grants from the likes of the Charlotte Hornets, Art & Science Council, and Qatar Foundation, Lockett describes the greatest win as working with the people with whom she has connected — it’s “the success of those learners and leaders whom I have had the privilege of training, leading and learning from,” she said.

“Learning for life and lifelong learning” is a phrase that captures the work Humanity Harvest does in “diverse learning environments and through diverse experiences,” Lockett added.

Through multifaceted initiatives and strategic partnerships undergirded by exceptional tenacity — transformation can easily occur, she said. Harvesting Humanity, under Lockett’s leadership, makes one thing clear. It is not what you reap that is most important — it is what you sow that is vital.