Project REAL opened in late 2004, and by 2005 we were serving Nevada’s students by providing courthouse fieldtrips. In those first fifteen years of service, our mission was to reduce crime, protect the futures of Nevada’s youth, and make our communities safer for everyone. We did that by engaging students with lessons about laws, the consequences of breaking laws, constitutional rights, and how to exercise those rights. We still do that same work.
That mission has not changed, but our approach has evolved. With fifteen years down, we are now ready to embrace a new look that celebrates the approach our work will take for the next fifteen years, and we’d like to take a moment to tell you a bit about this change. First, let’s consider our original appearance that we are leaving behind:
Out With The Old
Our original ‘look’ was direct and straightforward, just like our work: We took students to courts where they could watch live court and speak with judges, and brought lessons into their classrooms that gave them chance to learn about laws and the consequences of breaking those laws. We provided education with a focus on the law, and spelling out our acronym with the scales of justice as iconography helped to make that clear.
That is… essentially what we do now! So, why the change? Well, let’s take a look at the new appearance we are fully embracing:
In With The New (Motto)
While we are doing the same work, our approach to that work is changing in several ways. For our first fifteen years, the majority of our lessons outside of the fieldtrips were delivered by teachers, and nearly all of our work was done directly with students. That model of service caused a bit of a problem: Teachers knew us, judges and lawyers who helepd with our field trips knew us, police officers that help teach some of our activities knew us, and even some of the students we worked with knew who we were.
The problem is with who didn’t know us: Parents! Principals! The community at large! That community awareness has been lacking, and so one of the first changes you’ll see is that we’ve adopted a tagline: Youth Excellence & Achievement Through REAL Law Experiences.
The original acronym behind our name – Relevant Education About the Law – is still what we do, however it failed to communicate who we serve and what our ultimate goal is. Now, it should be clear – We provide youth with experiences that teach them about legal matters, and those lessons help them to become the best versions of themselves. As we work to create greater awareness of our organization and our work in the community, we hope this evolved messaging will encourage parents, principals, and really any relevant stakeholders to reach out and request our resources.
Clearly though, adopting a motto has not been the only change to our appearance. So, what’s with the new iconography?
A New Logo, A Revised & Expanded Approach
Our first fifteen years of service was focused on teaching students laws and the consequences of breaking those laws. Most of the work took place during our courthouse fieldtrips or in classrooms using our Play By the Rules activity. The courthouse fieldtrips would have been mostly ineffective were it not for the judges and lawyers that spoke with the students we brought, and Play By the Rules was always more impactful when police officers would join the classrooms to guest teach the lessons.
Whether for an hour or so during the field trips or over several days as part of Play By the Rules, we viewed these student and law professional interactions as a form of mentor based learning, and that brings us to our new look. As wonderful as it would be to have students memorize each law and the consequences of breaking it, that would simply be impossible: attorneys go through years of schooling (including law school) and most will tell you there is always more to learn, if only because the law is forever changing. Even then, giving students a list of laws is just uninspiring, if not an out-right dare to those of them going through a more rebellious phase.
The fact of the matter is that the mentor based learning opportunities we were providing were build around experiences in conversation and thoughtful engagement. It is those elements – those of conversation and thoughtful engagement – that have driven the development of our newer resources and the revisions to older ones. Giving students a list of rules or laws to follow will work for some, but engaging students by giving them a voice in their own futures is how we have succeeded in making positive impacts upon their lives. That appreciation for and acknowledgement of the power of conversation and the value of giving students their own agency in matters of choice and consequences is why we chose the logo we did: one that celebrates mentorship and engagement that moves the conversations forward in a positive direction.
We sincerely appreciate having had the privilege of serving Nevada over the last 15 years. Now, we hope you will join us as we look towards the next 15, which are sure to be an adventure!
If you would like to see what our next 15 years of service looks like, consider exploring the page that explains our project here. If you are already excited and would like to support our work (at a cost of just $25 per student served!), you may make a donation here.