Youth Climate Action Coalition

A youth-led environmental organization, mitigating the effects of climate change by reducing the carbon footprint of schools/communities

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Date You Started Your Project Started


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

  • Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)

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

Climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers are shrinking, droughts are worsening, and natural disasters are becoming more common. Effects that scientists had predicted in the past are now occurring. We must act now in order to have a better future. As passionate high school students, we have stepped up to take initiative on climate change and hope to see schools and communities across the nation do the same.

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

Realizing the urgency to act on climate change, we started an environmental club at our high school in order to execute conservation projects and raise awareness on environmental issues. We implemented a composting program, which saves nearly twenty pounds of food a week from being thrown away and reduces our carbon footprint by over one ton annually. We also installed faucet aerators which save our school thousands of gallons of water from being wasted. Additionally, we have expanded the school's recycling program by installing more bins and hosting many recycling drives. Currently, we are in the process of implementing a food scraps program to our local city, where residents are provided with a special bin for collecting food scraps, which will then get composted instead of ending up in the landfill. In order to expand our efforts to other schools/communities, we decided to create Youth Climate Action Coalition (YCAC), an organization that brings together like-minded youth that want to take initiative to do their part in helping the environment. We hope to spread our message to schools and communities across the world and help mitigate the consequences of climate change.

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

Growing up, we always loved being outdoors had an appreciation for nature. We experienced the effects of climate change first-hand living in Northern California, including disastrous effects that multi-year droughts had on the environment around us. We weren't satisfied with the lack of initiative to help with this problem, so during our Freshman year of high school, we started an environmental club, with a mission to make our school/community more environmentally friendly, by taking on various projects and spreading awareness about pressing environmental issues. The club started out with a few devoted students, but it eventually grew to over 60 passionate students who work together to ensure their community is doing all they can for the environment and its overall future. We think that schools across the nation should adopt the standards that we have set which is why we started YCAC.

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

Growing up in Northern California, we've always had an appreciation for our environment, and when saw the disastrous effects of climate change first hand, we knew it was time to stand up and take initiative. We took on projects in our school/community and expanded to others by creating a nonprofit, youth-led environmental organization called Youth Climate Action Coalition (YCAC). We hope to keep scaling our efforts in order to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

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

On our website, we have created a pledge that individuals can sign which indicates to us that they are committed to taking initiative on behalf of their school/community. When someone signs the pledge, we reach out to them and get to know them a little better and work with them to come up with a plan on how they can take initiative most effectively. Ex. We have worked with the Earth Club students from local high schools to implement compost programs and install faucet aerators along with raising school-wide awareness. We also worked with science teachers at local high/middle schools to include a unit on climate action in their curriculum, similar to what we have done at our school. We are also working with several schools in the region to promote a recycling campaign which specifically collects Expo Markers, being that they are one of the most disastrous toxic wastes that schools produce

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

While there are many environmental organizations out there, YCAC is student-led and driven by youth, focussing on schools and small communities. It aims to bring change on a large scale by promoting simple, effective sustainable practices. We have already impacted many schools and have proven that our model for expansion works. Unlike other organizations, we focus on doing a broad range of projects, working with individuals from different locations and backgrounds to ensure that their initiatives will be most effective for their specific situation. We’re not fans of talk with no action.

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

Throughout the past few months, 16 schools from 4 states and 3 countries have signed the pledge on our website, and we've worked with students from each of those schools to successfully implement initiatives to make their school/community more environmentally friendly. We have impacted over 7,000 students by traveling to other high schools in the region to present our organization, raise awareness, and expand our efforts. We have 7 YCAC chapters in various other schools and we've received $2500 in grant funding to support our initiatives. With just our school compost program, we've collected over 4000 pounds of food waste (counting other schools that have implemented composting, that number is even higher). We could potentially be saving much more with our proposed food scraps program (finalizing stages with council). We've reduced the carbon footprint at our school by nearly 2 tons.

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

We will continue to raise awareness and expand our efforts by presenting at/working with various schools. We're planning to host regional summit and possibly a national summit, which will bring together passionate individuals who want a greener future. We're also planning to host panels in communities, bringing local activists and policymakers to discuss specific ways a city can do its part to help fight climate change. We'd like to partner with other like-minded organizations. Currently, we’ve partnered with "Thirst Project", working to raise money to fund a well for clean drinking water in Swaziland. We're also working with school boards to pass climate resolutions and we're in the finalizing stages of passing a city food scraps program

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

  • Project Plan & Strategy

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

  • Friend support
  • Mentors/advisors
  • Donations less than $100
  • Donations between $100-$1k

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others


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