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.
40,000 heat records have already been broken this year across the U.S. according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. This year has definitely brought the U.S. the broad spectrum of extreme weather events that climate scientists have warned about for years.
"This is what global warming looks like at the regional or personal level. The extra heat increases the odds of worse heat waves, droughts, storms and wildfire. This is certainly what I and many other climate scientists have been warning about," Jonathan Overpeck, professor of geosciences and atmospheric sciences at the University of Arizona, told The Associated Press.
Here in Minnesota, we’ve been hit with floods and unusual heat waves. “Duluth is maybe in the first wave of cities to adapt to climate change,” said University of Minnesota Extension climatologist Mark Seeley after the June 20th flood. Climate scientists say increasing precipitation, particularly from intense thunderstorms, is a symptom of ongoing climate warming because warm air holds more water vapor than cooler air.
There are a few bright spots worth highlighting that show we are getting serious about addressing climate change – for instance, 80 educators are registered for our annual Summer Institute to learn how to address climate change in the classroom, and over two million Americans have submitted comments in support of the first ever carbon rule. Read about these stories and more in this month’s newsletter.
Nicole Rom, Executive Director
RE-AMP Community Mentorship Program (Click for larger view)
Research and outreach for the RE-AMP Community Mentorship Program is in full swing as we enter July. From my experience at the RE-AMP annual meeting, reading survey responses and hearing from people during listening sessions, it is apparent that the RE-AMP community and young leaders are excited about the opportunity to collaborate across generations to build a stronger Midwest climate movement.
This May, I had the opportunity to attend the Good Jobs Green Jobs Regional Midwest Conference in Detroit, Michigan. It is hosted by Blue Green Alliance, which is a coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations working to build “a cleaner, fairer and more competitive American economy."
The Will Steger Foundation is kicking off the summer with research to develop and launch an innovative mentorship program within the RE-AMP network that connects youth climate leaders with veteran staff from climate-focused non-profit organizations across the Midwest.
Mentorship is defined as a mutually beneficial learning relationship between two people that involves caring, commitment and trust. This project, which received grant funding through the RE-AMP Strategic Initiative Fund, aims to build egalitarian and intergenerational relationships that allow both participants to gain powerful new insights and perspectives.
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