Engaging Community, Leading Change


PLACE (People Leading Across City Environments) is a collection of programs for children and youth from schools around the Portland metro region to be more engaged citizens by making authentic, meaningful, real-world change in their communities. 

Started in 2008, hundreds of students from Catlin Gabel School and 23 other area schools have participated in opportunities to learn how cities function and amplify the youth voice in making our cities work better for all people. In that time, PLACE students have engaged over 3,000 citizens from a diversity of backgrounds and geographies in civic processes.

PLACE program uses a social justice approach to experiential education and real­-world learning to raise the stakes for children and youth to share their voice and lead. At Catlin Gabel, we believe it is imperative to train students to be empathic and impactful leaders in a globalized world by providing opportunities to practice working in groups that represent a diversity of perspectives toward common community goals. This allows for students to gain understanding of their communities, each other, our differences, our similarities, and how to work as a team toward achieving inclusive and community-informed goals.

Most PLACE programs occur at The Center at 3510 N.Vancouver Ave., a coalition-led hub for child and youth creativity, education, and engagement.



The ideas the students have about projects we’ve been working on and usually struggling with for months or years are amazing. I’m impressed every summer with their work.

Project Client from Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability


I love this partnership that PLACE is making possible between students and the city. We appreciate Catlin Gabel’s sponsorship as well as the participation of students from a variety of schools throughout the community

City of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales


The PLACE program curriculum guide is an incredible resource. We believe the theme of building community connections is one that will continue to resonate with educators all over the globe. This work has informed our thinking in academic courses, the Wo International Center, and the Luke Center for Public Service.

Punahou School Academy Principal, Emily McCarren




PLACE gives youth a true sense of place - the world is at their fingertips but PLACE allows kids to look around them and make a direct impact.

 Parent of a PLACE student


An independent preschool through 12th grade day school in Portland, Oregon
8825 SW Barnes Road,
Portland, Oregon 97225 |
503-297-1894 |

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