Sometimes, when we delve a little too deep into the world of environmental issues, and maybe get a bit too caught up in the hopelessness of it all, it can seem like everyone's out to destroy what we love. I talked quite a bit about ways that have helped me reorient myself in a previous post, but there was one key thing I forgot to mention. It's so easy to focus on the people who are doing it wrong, and the ones who help to cause the problems. But looking at the people who are doing it right, the ones working to solve these problems, gives me a whole lot of motivation. So, this week, and for maybe a few posts afterwards, I wanted to talk about organizations that I believe are doing it right, and who better to start with than the one I've been the most connected with over the past few months: Greening Forward.
What is Greening Forward?
At it's core, Greening Forward is an organization aimed at educating and empowering youth to take action against environmental issues. As can be seen in their motto: "by the youth, for the youth, to empower the youth" the organization is run entirely by passionate, young people looking to educate their peers about the wonders of our natural world, and what we can do to protect it. In fact, the founder and former CEO of Greening Forward, Charles Orgbon III, created the organization when he was just 12 years old back in 2008. And, in the ten years since its inception, he and the many others that have joined have worked tirelessly to empower and encourage youth to fight for what they care about.
What do they do?
Alright. It's one thing to say that they empower the youth, but how exactly do they accomplish that? And, furthermore, what can they do for us, the people (not necessarily just youth!) who want to make a difference? Well, over those ten years of operation, the organization has not only created numerous beneficial programs, but has hosted and participated in many events as well. Here's a quick look at some of the most notable projects the organization has undertaken:
This past year, the organization hosted an online blog contest inviting young people under the age of 22 to submit their own blog posts about the environmental issues they're passionate about. The reward? $150 for the first place winner, and $50 for the two second place ones, as well as a featured post on Greening Forward's own blog. The contest was a great success, encouraging youth like myself to write posts about coral bleaching, vegetable fuel oil, and much more. This was the first year the organization hosted the competition, and they are hosting a similar one that is going on now, so click here if you would like to learn more about it!
Earth Saver's Club Grants
What the organization may be most well known for, however, is their grants. They've awarded around $80,000 to nearly 2,000 youth around the country, helping to sponsor and support their environmentally-conscious ideas. From funding travel opportunities to get to youth to environmental conferences, to supplying resources for the construction of community gardens, Greening Forward has helped to make countless youth ideas realities. For more information on their grants, as well as a list of previous projects, click here.
In addition to sponsoring numerous other events, Greening Forward also runs their own. Called the Empowered Young Environmentalist's Summit, this event (typically run in New York in coordination with their department of education) continues the mission of the organization by educating youth through hands on, engaging games, workshops, and discussions, all focused around environmental issues. The event has been hosted a total of six times, each and every one bringing something new to the table. The most recent EYES (previously named the International Young Environmentalist Youth Summit or IYEYS), held in spring of this year, focused on the theme of the environment's relation to political change.
But those three endeavors are just the tip of the iceberg. The organization has done a lot more when it comes to environmental protection. Quickly, here are a few more projects the wonderful people there have undertaken:
Earth Saver Award- from 2010 to 2015, they recognized a youth leader each year that they believed to be making a tremendous difference in the world of conservation. From ages 5-22, the winners receive mentor ship, media attention, and grant money/cash prizes to continue the work they started. The award has helped many youth activists continue their incredible work.
Blog- the organization also runs their own environmental blog, covering a wide range of environmental topics. From a summary of GMO's, to detailed explanation of aquaponics, the blog has been used to spread helpful information about ongoing efforts to combat environmental issues. They also used this blog as a means to spread awareness about their blog contest winners, and other important events going on at the time.
Youth Resources- finally, they have a whole host of readings and resources for people (students, parents, and teachers) looking to make their own difference in their community. From articles about team building, to engaging elected officials, they offer a wide variety of helpful readings. If you're interested in checking them out, click here.
So, just a quick little look into some of the great things that Greening Forward does. If you're interested in learning even more abut what they've accomplished, feel free to visit their website by clicking here. Now, I mentioned at the beginning of the post that I have a certain connection with the organization, and I'll probably be talking about it in further detail in the next few weeks. Anyway, I hope to continue the series of organization overviews, as learning more about what exactly people are doing right not only gives us hope for a better future, but inspiration for new ideas that can make an even bigger difference. And, remember: if you're looking for something to do, organizations like these can always use more help.
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