Children in blue UNICEF shirts smile and wave in front of a newly painted, newly constructed classroom built by bricks made of recycled plastic.
UNICEF/UNI212400/Frank Dejongh

Partner since 2020

Founded in 1921 as a program of the National Association of Secondary School Prinicipals (NASSP), the National Honor Society (NHS) recognizes students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership and character. Today, more than 1 million students annually participate in NHS activities. There are NHS chapters across the U.S., in Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories and in Canada. 

Learning about global challenges in education, and building classrooms made from recycled plastic

In celebration of the National Honor Society's centennial in 2021, NHS and UNICEF USA teamed up to inspire NHS chapters to learn about the education challenges children face around the world.

They also set out to raise funds for one UNICEF-supported project in particular — building sustainable classrooms in Côte d'Ivoire — setting a goal to build 10 classroom in all, or one classroom for each decade.

The classrooms are constructed using bricks made from recycled plastic waste through the UNICEF-Conceptos Plásticos program.

In Côte d'Ivoire, schools are chronically over capacity. Pollution is a serious environmental issue and public health hazard; the Abidjan metropolitan area alone produces 288 tons of plastic waste every day.

The bricks used to build the sustainable classrooms are 100 percent plastic. Compared to traditional bricks, they are 40 percent cheaper, 20 percent lighter, fire-resistant, wind-resistant, waterproof, insulated and quicker to assemble. On top of the environmental benefits, the project also promotes a women-led recycling market and helps the economy by increasing job opportunities.

And children are able to get back to school. Dozens of classrooms have been built, hundreds of tons of plastic have been recycled and thousands of children are receiving an education because of these schools.

Funds raised by NHS will be used for the construction of the buildings; for teacher trainings; and to provide desks, chairs and school supplies, latrines, solar panels and water points. The support will also help boost community engagement and provide resources to continue and scale the Green School Initiative — empowering students to become eco-citizens. 

Even the smallest of donations can make big impact:

  • $1 can provide five bars of soap to improve hygiene and infection prevention and control
  • $3.60 can provide a student with a UNICEF backpack to organize and transport school supplies
  • $4.70 can provide one box of ten pencils and one pack of 10 notebooks to a student or to share with several students
  • $4.80 can provide one recycled plastic brick for school construction as part of the UNICEF-Conceptos Plásticos project
  • $110 can support the construction of one latrine stall at a school
  • $48,000 can support the cost of building one sustaiclassroom — and help provide textbooks, latrines, teacher trainings and much more

NHS students become global citizens through UNICEF USA deep-dives on education, climate change and gender equity

Partnership resources

Explore and download the resources below to learn about UNICEF's work around the world, the NHS and UNICEF USA partnership and how you can make an impact for children in Côte d'Ivoire.

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Learn more about how UNICEF and civil society groups work together to create better futures for children.