What would you do to address climate change if money wasn’t an obstacle? For many young people passionate about the environment, ideas are not what’s lacking. It’s the means to make these ideas a reality that stands in the way of effective leadership and implementation.
Of course there is mentorship, skills training, community support, time and energy to consider – which are equally if not more important. But concrete funds and the ability to raise them are considerably more challenging for young people than adults who are in the work force and often part of a larger community of connected people.
The Will Steger Foundation launched the Emerging Leaders program with the belief that youth vision on climate change solutions is something valuable to encourage, empower, and invest in. We feels strongly that the world needs an optimistic approach, now more than ever, in the face of such daunting challenges – optimism that is developmentally unique to the young mind. Furthermore, it is not only the concept that there is still hope for the planet, but also, that one individual can take initiative and in working with others create a groundswell of change. At the heart of this optimism is the beautiful and shining gem of self-love. The belief that one is truly capable of changing the world.
It is from this place that we reach out and engage youth in our 2011 Climate Generation program, launched in partnership with British Council and California Air Resources Board. The program offers awards up to $2500 to honor and grow student-led high school action projects related to climate change solutions. Up to 4 projects will be selected for $500 awards, and 2 for $2500. Projects must be focused on one the following topics: Energy conservation, Renewable energy, Water conservation, Transportation, Purchasing, Facilities, Awareness and communication. Projects must be completed by April 1st. Awards will be announced May 2011. Registration is now open through February 1st for qualifying projects. Full project proposals are due in early April.
In addition, all registered schools are eligible to nominate students to join the British Council/Will Steger Foundation’s ‘Climate Champions’ program. Selected students will join an international network of youth climate leaders, receive opportunities to travel fully paid to climate conferences and trainings across the globe, and act as mentors to high school youth in Minnesota striving to get their climate initiatives off the ground.
UPDATE: The British Council’s cultural work on climate change has involved as many as 100 million people across the world and was seen as a crucial and highly effective part of the UK’s strategy for tackling climate change. It engaged schoolchildren, politicians, community leaders, scientists and journalists in scores of countries, including major efforts in China and India, using events, teaching materials, websites, grants, awards and competitions. In 2011, the British Council decided to refocus its efforts on arts, English education and society.
Meet our current Climate Champions at www.willstegerfoundation.org
We believe that youth are worth the investment and that with mentorship, financial support, and opportunity, we can foster the climate leadership that the world most desperately needs.