This week (Nov. 26- Dec 1) follow Siiri Bigalke as she participates in the United Nations climate conference, COP18, as our representative and youth leader.
Across the Midwest and the nation, youth organizers are not only getting out the youth vote, they are connecting the dots between the fossil fuels industry and elections and building an informed, committed, and passionate youth base.
Youth orgs across the Midwest are actively engaging their generation in the Presidential debates, elections and critical ballot measures, and creating pipelines for new leadership in the broader climate change movement.
MPIRG, WISPIRG and the MI Student Sustainability Coalition (MSSC) have been getting out the youth vote through voter drives and Energy Action Coalition’s Power Vote campaign. The MSSC has been garnering Michigan student support from across the state to support Prop 3. MPIRG has launched a voter education campaign calling on young voters to vote no on the anti-marriage and voter ID amendments to the state constitution. During the past four election cycles, WISPIRG’s New Voters Project has registered more than 160,000 18- to 24-year-olds.
Youth Mentorship and Professional Development
Grand Aspirations was successful in placing 5 of their participants from five summer of Solutions across the Midwest in paid positions across the region: YEA Corps, Minneapolis, Distributed Power, Detroit, A Just Harvest, Chicago, and MN350 in the Twin Cities. Positions for these emerging leaders were funding in part by the RE-AMP’S Strategic Initiative Fund, with matching funds from the host organization.
The Will Steger Foundation has paired 10 participants in an innovative mentorship program, matching youth leaders across the Midwest with veteran staff from environmental non-profits across the RE-AMP network. The mentor relationship is based on the premise that both participants have expertise to bring and aimed at foster mutual learning and growth that can benefit the entire RE-AMP network. Orientation will begin at the end of October with the mentorship contract running through May 2013.
Growing and Engaging the Youth Base
Energy Action Coalition is engaging youth voters across the US through their Power Vote campaign. Not only is the campaign aimed at getting youth registered for the November elections (with Michigan in the lead at 8,270+ registrations), it’s also aimed at ‘breaking the silence on climate change’ in the Presidential debates, and spotlighting the hand the fossil fuels industry is playing in both parties.
350.org will launch it’s ‘Do the Math’ tour across the US, Nov 7-Dec 1, with Midwest stops in Columbus OH, Chicago, Madison, Minneapolis, and Omaha. The 350 youth outreach coordinator (Janina Klimas, former Director of the Ohio Student Environmental Coalition) is hard at work making sure youth know about the events (and free student/youth tickets!) and the opportunity to leverage it to benefit their own youth climate work in the city/state. In Minneapolis, MN350 has partnered with the MN Youth Environmental Network and Will Steger Foundation to host a daylong youth organizing retreat for students across the state on Dec 1.
The Will Steger Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program aims to educate, empower, and engage a new generation of climate leadership on a local, regional, national, and international scale.
In partnership with nonprofit organizations, congregations, and universities, Will Steger Foundation co-hosts Eyewitness to Global Warming community forums on climate change solutions.
“Climate change is here – and worse than we thought” according to Dr. James Hansen, NASA scientist in a recent Washington Post Opinion piece. In late July, NASA revealed that Greenland’s surface ice is melting over a larger area than they have ever seen. On average in the summer about half of the surface of Greenland’s ice sheet naturally melts. But this year the extent of ice melting at or near the surface jumped dramatically. According to satellite data, an estimated 97 percent of the ice sheet surface thawed at some point in mid-July. NASA used the word “extraordinary” because such pronounced melting across the ice sheet has not occurred since 1889.
While the arctic continues to see unprecedented melt this summer, and the Midwest sees unprecedented drought, we’ve become increasingly focused on how to communicate climate change impacts to the people we work with, mainly educators and youth.
We’ve used the summer to plan our youth programming and public outreach for the next year. Our major highlight this month of course is our 7th annual Summer Institute for Climate Change Education for over 90 educators, made possible by support from the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, General Mills Foundation and Aveda. We were honored to host Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education and Dr. John Abraham as keynote speakers; both of whom were able to address the basics of climate science and the challenges educators are facing with teaching the topic in the classroom.
Our fiscal year ends August 31. Thanks to a generous grant from the Pohlad Family Foundation, any new gift made by October 15th will be matched!
Finally, I’m really proud to be biking with fellow Board member David Bryan in the California Climate Ride, September 9-13th. We’ve raised over $4,000 from friends and family to participate in this ride, with all funds benefiting the Will Steger Foundation. I was honored to receive a customized jersey from our staff, Board and other foundation friends which I will wear with pride! I’ll be blogging about the experience (300+ hilly miles) on our website so you can follow our journey.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
Is it hot enough for you?
Extent of surface melt over Greenland’s ice sheet on July 8 (left) and July 12.[Via Climate Central]
Summer 2012 has proved a landmark time in climate history, with record heat, rainfall, wildfires, floods and droughts throughout the country and across the globe. Recent reports came in that global CO2 emissions increased 3% in 2011, but we continue to fight on.
You may have seen the Start Tribune article that referenced this report by Climate Central showing that Minnesota is warming faster than the rest of the country (3rd of all states) when looking over the last 100 years and since 1970. Then for those of us in Minneapolis, the Union of Concerned Scientists just released this report on the health impacts of extreme heat in Minneapolis. This news reminds us of the urgency of the work we are doing on climate change and the bold action that is needed.
You can view our full profile at the Charities Review Council.