Greening Forward

We help develop passionate young people into leaders that can bring remarkable environmental change to their communities.

Photo of Ananya Singh
6 14

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  • Education

Website or social media url(s) (optional):

Date You Started Your Project Started

May 1st 2008

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)

1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

We are helping to solve 2 problems: the environmental crisis, and the need for more youth leadership development and support. Young people today are inheriting a world with climate disaster, plastic pollution, biodiversity loss, deforestation, and ecological damage at unseen levels. We know that we must act, but it is difficult to even know where to begin. Many youth feel disempowered, overwhelmed, and unsupported.

2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We solve these problems by providing youth with relevant and meaningful resources to help them take action on the environmental issues they care most about. These resources include micro-grants, digital resources, webinars, workshops, and mentorship opportunities. We believe young people have the motivation, passion, and capability to lead, and we are able to connect them with the skills, connections, and experiences needed to be more effective. Our Earth Savers Club grants provide youth-led groups up to $750 to implement creative, sustainable, and inclusive environmental projects. These grants take projects to the next level in terms of impact, and they have engaged over 1,750 students already. Our digital resources include illustrated environmental comics, curriculum resources, informative blog posts, and a library of 50+ how-to guides that simplify the processes of starting a club, growing a team, and planning a project. We are currently preparing an ambassador program that will provide skills-training and community-building through webinars, school visits, and in-person workshops. Beyond these programs, we mentor youth and build networks of support for developing leaders.

3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?

When I was 12 years old, I attended a summer camp called Youth Empowered Action (YEA). It was a week of being surrounded by teens who were all passionate about creating change in the world. Some, like me, were entirely new to the idea of activism. Others had years of experience running clubs, volunteering, leading projects, and even starting organizations. One of my counselors was Charles Orgbon, who had started the organization Greening Forward at age 12. Charles was the type of leader that I aspired to be: connective, empowering, articulate, and inclusive. His story showed me that you create powerful change at any age, and that sparked my desire to bring change to my community. I gained the confidence to start thinking of myself as a leader and a changemaker, and since then I have worked to share my story and inspire others to defy perceptions of young people and lead with courage.

4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”

I am stepping up to make change because our world is in the midst of an ecological and climate crisis. We need young people stepping up, leading with courage and vision, and defining our generation as the generation that will change our society’s relationship to the environment. I am stepping up because we need to act urgently, because we have no other option: lives at stake, and our futures are on the line. We need more young people believing in their ability to create change!

5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

In April 2018, Perise Forbi, a college student from Cameroon, Africa, reached out to Greening Forward expressing an interest in empowering young people in his community to become change-makers in the environmental movement. We were able to connect personally with Perise, learn about the environmental issues affecting Cameroon, and discuss ideas for spreading Greening Forward's message. Perise received an Earth Savers Club grant to organize a plastic pick-up, which cleaned thousands of plastic bottles from the streets. We also worked with Perise to distribute our Earth Savers comic, which caught the attention of many young students and exposed them to the concept of environmental action for the first time. Perise is now our Cameroon Coordinator, and we have 8 established clubs at schools in the region, where hundreds of students have been engaged through environmental awareness!

6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

Greening Forward's approach integrates leadership development and youth empowerment and real environmental solutions to pressing ecological challenges. This combined approach allows us to develop meaningful programs and relevant resources specifically tailored to the needs and experiences of environmental leaders. Our existence for 11 years has also distinguished us as one of the oldest environmental organizations to be youth-imagined and youth-driven at every level. We've built up partnerships with prominent organizations, and have spoken out for real youth voice within environmentalism.

7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

Over the past 11 years, Greening Forward has given out over $80,000 through our Earth Savers Club Program, giving over 50 grounds the opportunity to deepen their impact, engaging over 1500 per year. These projects have included community clean-ups, environmental education events, school gardens, composting and hydroponics, and other creative solutions to local challenges. We've also hosted 6 youth-centered environmental conferences, convening passionate young leaders, aspiring environmentalists, grantees, school clubs, educators, nonprofits, and community groups. These conferences have attracted participants from all over the country and the world, with several international participants involved. We have even established a chapter in Cameroon, spreading environmental awareness to students in the region!

8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

This year has been a time of transition within Greening Forward, as we have seen leadership and staffing shifts, and we have been undergoing a rebranding and visioning process to refresh our identity. We are working to articulate Greening Forward's unique role in today's rapidly changing youth-led environmental movement, our core values, and our vision of a sustainable future. We are developing a very exciting ambassador program to train aspiring young environmental changemakers on specific skills and topics through a combination of webinars and in-person workshops. Through this program, we hope to show young people that there is a needed role for each of us in the environmental movement that fits our strengths and interests.

9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?

  • Accounting & Finance

10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?

  • Friend support
  • Family support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others
  • Participated in previous Ashoka challenges

Evaluation results

6 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 66.7%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 0%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 33.3%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 100%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 20%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 83.3%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 16.7%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 0%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Courtney Ackerman

Such a powerful mission statement. Thanks for inspiring our youth!

Photo of Jacob Garland

Keep it up!

Photo of Clare Sparling

Great work!

Photo of Forbi Nyosai

For the youth, by the youth to empower the youth

Photo of Emaloh Ebenkasoh

Great work Greening forward

Photo of sarah

Amazing work!