The environmental movement has been steadily gaining ground as people realize how important it is to take action in the face of ever-growing environmental concerns. Organizations across the country have tried to address problems in different ways, from looking into the science behind climate change, to starting grassroots campaigns that shift our behavior towards the earth. While there are countless approaches to helping our environment, rather than choosing one strategy over another, we need a collective effort that includes many tactics.

There are a couple of key reasons why we at Greening Forward are dedicated to engaging in a youth-led organization focused on increasing young people’s involvement in environmental activism, both locally in their communities and anywhere in the world. The most significant reason is that environmental problems affect everyone. The greatest effects of environmental problems impact young people like us. Many problems, like rising sea levels and drought, will only worsen over time and young people and future generations will face some serious consequences if nothing is done.

For a problem that affects nearly everyone on the planet, the environmental movement has struggled to gain widespread support. From the United States leaving the Paris Agreement, to people continuing to view the issue as strictly an “environmental” problem as opposed to one that also affects people, governments and organizations have not been addressing the issue like the global threat to humanity that it is. With these gaps in support, the work to mitigate environmental damage falls to citizens like ourselves—and we have the potential to create large-scale impact. All we need is a plan, resources, and the will to do so. This is why at Greening Forward we help to make environmental projects a reality, because by funding environmental causes, we empower people to take matters into their own hands and address important issues.

When funding an environmental initiative, there are several factors that can help your grant go the farthest. As with all grantmaking, it is important to fund projects that make sense. I have seen a lot of organizations claim to be able to solve huge environmental problems in spectacular ways, yet their plans are complicated, confusing, or unrealistic. Programs and projects that have clear and simple goals have the best chance of achieving them, and it is easier to follow their progress along the way.

Funding projects to increase awareness is also a critical part of the environmental movement because many people either do not realize the magnitude of the threats facing our planet or believe that there is nothing they can do about them. Environmental projects can help to dispel these perceptions. For example, one project we chose to fund was the creation of an earth bench—a bench made from cob and plastic bottles—in front of a high school. Although that bench likely did not have a large impact on the overall health of the environment, it remains a powerful symbol that serves as a constant reminder to everyone at that school about their use of plastic and the importance of recycling.

At the end of the day, it is going to take a collective effort from people of all different backgrounds and communities to mitigate the environmental problems we are facing today. We at Greening Forward, along with thousands of other young people, have committed to taking on this responsibility and hope you do too.

October 8, 2018

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About Robert Walton

Robert Walton is the CEO of the youth-led organization Greening Forward. Greening Forward develops young people into leaders in the environmental movement so that they can create real change in their communities.

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