WHAT WE DO.
“We’re working against environmental racism and toward environmental justice.”
— Angelo Logan, SEE Board Member
ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE .
Environmental racism is the disproportionate impact of environmental hazards on people of color. Environmental justice is a grassroots movement response to environmental racism. Many youth living in frontline communities are disproportionately harmed by environmental harms, yet do not receive the education and access required to be a part of this grassroots movement or to address the environmental issues in their own community. Among organizations that are doing environmental justice work, some lack the resources to reach youth beyond their immediate service areas and others lack programming geared specifically toward youth advocacy.
Conferences and externally-organized opportunities to be exposed to and engage with civic engagement or environmental justice education can be expensive and inaccessible for those who could benefit most from them. Youth are well-positioned to be advocates for the environmental issues they are currently facing and have the power to make changes in the present rather than waiting to lead in the future. The failure to shift resources and attention to youth advocates and communities will present enormous opportunity costs for the future of the environmental and environmental justice movements at large.
Environmental justice will be achieved “from the ground up,” with individuals taking direct action on behalf of their own communities. Youth have the knowledge, capacity, and support to mobilize causes at organizational, regional, and systemic levels. Youth awareness and empowerment can enable people to name things as they are within their lived experiences and communities—such as racism, inequality, and injustice—and encourage a grassroots movement toward centering their truths.
To become empowered leaders, youth must have access to opportunities to carve their own paths. In the ideal world, there would be accessible and inclusive convenings for youth to speak with each other about the issues they are experiencing and collaborate on innovative and informed solutions. Youth would also have information about college and vocational training. In the longer term, youth who are underrepresented in the environmental movement and "green careers"—namely Black, indigenous, and People of Color (“BIPOC”)—can grow to be leaders in this space.
WHO WE SERVE.
While we serve all youth, our focus is on:
Middle and high school-aged youth, who we believe can be socially and emotionally receptive to exposure to environmental justice issues in their community as a foundation for advocacy;
Registered college student groups at California colleges;
Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (“BIPOC”) and low-income youth, who are underrepresented in the environmental movement; and
Photo by Naassom Azevedo
Our ultimate desired impact is that environmental injustices are actively addressed by organized and well-resourced youth, particularly in disproportionately burdened communities. We want policymakers and other systemic actors to respond to these movements toward positive change that benefits community health, education, and equity outcomes. To achieve this, YoR builds upon existing environmental justice efforts by offering programs designed to empower frontline youth with tools, resources, education, community, and leadership development. Find out more below.