Now more than ever before, youth leaders are using their voices to advocate for their future and for future generations. Recently, we've seen youth on the frontlines of climate action. Isra Hirsi, 18, co-founded the US Youth Climate Strike— leading the organization while more than 100,000 young people participated in the strike. Like Isra, young people everywhere are rallying around climate action and fighting for their right to a safe future.
Empowering the next generation of climate leaders means nurturing an interest in our planet and the confidence to advocate for it. These nonprofits support BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colors) youth becoming climate activists, regenerative farmers, scientists, educators, allies and so much more.
CITY BLOSSOMS | Washington, D.C.
City Blossoms partners with high schools and students to run the year-round, garden-based Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative (YEC) program. At the core of the program is a youth-led business called Mighty Greens. Using the cooperative business model, high school students shape their business while learning environmental and food justice concepts and developing job readiness skills. “Youth Staff” maintain their garden spaces, make value-added products and sell products and produce to their communities through seasonal CSAs and farmers markets.
Lauren Newman, Youth Entrepreneurship Cooperative Manager at City Blossoms describes how the City Blossoms community is connecting youth to food justice:
"Mighty Greens was founded in 2011 during City Blossoms’ first year of programming with students from Eastern Senior High. From the start, community building has always been an important pillar of the business. Though the pandemic has presented challenges to how we can connect as a community, it has also brought about some unique opportunities.
Since the start of the 2020-2021 school year, City Blossoms has been able to expand beyond our two founding high schools and invited students all across DC to join the program. One of those students, Samantha, a senior at School Without Walls, shared with us how impactful her time with Mighty Greens has been so far:
“The days spent at different farms picking up different skills, participating in activities, learning about plants and interacting with the supervisors (shoutout to Ms. Lauren) was something I am grateful for especially in the current times. In addition to these, virtual venues organized to learn, bring awareness to issues and engaging youth to form a community makes you feel very welcomed and appreciated. Mighty Greens offers an incredible opportunity to connect, and I am extremely appreciative that it exists.”
Samantha recently immigrated to the United States from Cameroon and has been working to establish roots with her family since their move to DC in 2019. Samantha describes herself as a passionate learner driven by her curiosity, especially when it comes to science."
FARMS TO GROW | Oakland, CA
The Farms to Grow, Inc. Gardens to Grow program was developed to teach marginalized youth in urban schools, daycares and after school programs the joy of growing their own food. In addition to learning about soil, seeds and planting, the G2G program also involves cooking and nutrition education. Farms to Grow, Inc. has installed several gardens in San Francisco, Oakland, CA, and Cincinnati, OH.
The foundation of the agricultural system as we know it is a result of Black farming— but this history is often erased. This is why Farms to Grow works with Black farmers to maintain and create sustainable farms that can be passed on to the next generation, while sharing the stories that are too often left out of the narrative.
The Gardens to Grow program is working to show youth through experience that farming is a career option, and that even though they often lack visibility— there are Black farmers to look up to creating sustainable food systems. Dr. Gail Myers, Co-Founder of Farms to Grow, details the importance of sharing the stories of Black farmers to inspire the next generation:
"When I talk to young people about Black farmers, their eyes light up."
-Dr. Gail Myers
Big Blue & You is dedicated to inspiring and educating youth about ocean conservation through arts, science and media. Sea Youth Rise Up with Youth Ocean Conservation Summit and The Ocean Project in was founded in 2016. The programs are training youth leaders in ocean advocacy and hosting their participation at National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Capitol Hill Ocean Week each June in Washington, D.C.
“We believe that youth can influence positive change and find creative solutions to help our precious oceans survive. We are dedicated to supporting and inspiring them!”
- Danni and Michelle, Co-founders of Big Blue & You
Apurva Iyengar, BB&Y Communications Intern and one of the Youth Delegates chosen for Sea Youth Rise Up 2020 shares how their team is building a sense of community that empowers advocacy for the ocean:
"As a young person who grew up far from the ocean, I never imagined I would one day be giving it a voice on Capitol Hill. I landed in D.C. feeling small in a big world, but I left realizing that as big as our world may be, we have the power to change it when we come together, thanks to my fellow delegates.
Our friendship helped us fight just as hard for each other’s ideas as we did for our ocean when speaking directly to Congressional aides on Capitol Hill. Two years later, the 7 of us are each other's biggest supporters, and I can say with confidence that Sea Youth Rise Up changed my life."
Looking for ways to get involved in the movement? Check out our list ofRemote Volunteer Opportunities in the 1% for the Planet Network to support people and the planet from anywhere in the world.