Looking Forward: Youth Leading the Way Toward a Sustainable Planet

From  2007-2010, FCYO supported ReGenerations: Leadership Expansion for Environmental Justice (ReGen/EJ), a multi-year funding initiative to support community-based environmental justice groups to build their capacity and develop the leadership of young people in environmental justice organizing. Throught ReGen/EJ eleven organizations that valued the role of young people’s leadership and youth organizing strategies were provided grants and technical assistance to build their environmental justice campaigns. Many of these campaigns resulted in enormous victories at the local level and beyond.

This initiative took place at a timely period—young people were shaping and pushing the environmental justice movement into new realms while at the same time youth organizing groups expressed the need to build a regenerating base of young people to take on leadership positions. Against the backdrop of the economic downfall, this opportune support from ReGen/EJ allowed the groups to sustain their organizations when they were most vulnerable. The eleven groups featured in this report each received grant support, technical assistance, cohort convenings, and evaluation. Through their involvement, they were provided with opportunities to share tools and models and document intergenerational organizing strategies.

The ReGen/EJ grantmaking program, built with significant support from such funders as the Ford Foundation, the Surdna Foundation, and the Merck Family Fund, among others, was an attempt to bridge a generational gap and build leadership to proactively respond to mounting environmental concerns—not just of today but of tomorrow.  This report, produced in partnership with the Movement Strategy Center (MSC), contains case studies on the grantees and their work, discussion of the strategic design of the initiative, key findings and reccommedations to funders interested in supporting youth organizing in environmental justice and other issue areas.

These youth environmental justice leaders faced unparalleled, colossal environmental threats, and responded with new, smart, innovative strategies, such as the framework for climate justice.