The Will Steger Foundation’s Emerging Leaders program is home to the Midwest Youth Caucus, a space where key youth climate leaders can network with one another and build cross-generational connection with veteran non-profit environmental organizations across the region. We play a key role in convening Midwest youth leadership, providing valuable mentorship and networking opportunities, and building the capacity of the Midwest youth climate movement toward just and sustainable climate change solutions.
The Will Steger Foundation is proud to congratulate the following two Midwest youth organizations for receiving competitive funding for climate solutions in partnership with the RE-AMP network. Each of these proposals include a strong movement-building component along with a very specific policy target. These initiatives exemplify the power of an integrated approach to environmental organizing and highlight the innovative approaches youth are taking to build a stronger climate movement and lead the transition a green economy.
[important color=red title=] Wisconsin Public Research Interest Group (WISPIRG): Reducing Wasteful Highway Spending and Expanding Transit Options for Wisconsin
Building on a strong history of successful campaigning for safe, clean, and accessible, transit infrastructure, WISPIRG youth are mobilizing local elected officials and opinion leaders to defend statewide transit funding from disproportionate highway expansion. WISPIRG is partnering with 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and the Sierra Club John Muir Chapter to build a base of support for policy change in favor of transit funding that reflects the needs of Wisconsin’s youngest and oldest generations. By strategizing with grasstops allies and a diverse grassroots coalition, including seniors, students, faith groups, businesses, disability rights groups, and transit managers, WISPIRG can empower the community to speak out for common interests, in advance of the state budget proposal, due out in late January 2015. [/important]
[important color=red title=] Grand Aspirations: Community Power Organizing and Policy Change
Over the past year, the Minneapolis Energy Options campaign has demonstrated that community organizing on city-level energy decisions can compel utilities to reevaluate how clean, local, affordable, and reliable energy is sourced and made accessible. Building on this success, Community Power will educate Minneapolis residents about their energy and grow a grassroots network to support the City in holding its utilities accountable. Key strategies to ensuring Centerpoint Energy and Xcel Energy deliver on their 2013 commitments to Minneapolis include : empowering youth and low-income communities to affect change, educating and mobilizing an informed network of local government representatives, citizens, and advocate organizations, and building a massive, diverse movement of constituents dedicated to long-term change in our energy system. [/important]
Critical support to Midwest youth organizations and youth-serving organizations is also made possible through RE-AMP funding via small re-grants from large coalitions. In 2014, four youth organizations received re-grants through the Michigan Coal Coalition and Minnesota Clean Energy & Jobs Campaign for the following campaigns:
[important color=red title=] The Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition: Student-Community Partnerships in Ann Arbor Coal Divestment
With a re-grant through the Michigan Coal Coalition, the Michigan Student Sustainability Coalition (MSSC) will build on its past statewide divestment experiences mobilizing youth and the work of the Sierra Club and Clean Water Fund, to pressure DTE Energy to close their Ann Arbor coal plants. Through a large, well trained, and diverse Divest and Invest campaign, students and community members will activate a new constituency base to fight to retire old coal plants and mobilize a base capable of pressuring DTE from their hometown and large investor, the University of Michigan. Youth will bring critical skills and angles of influence to this grassroots effort, supporting a dynamic a media campaign, pressuring one of their major investors to divest, ensuring consistent strategic pressure on additional points of leverage, and engaging the local public to make the connections between DTE and the damage inflicted on specific Michigan communities. [/important]
Will Steger Foundation (WSF), Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), and Minnesota Youth Environmental Network (MNYEN) received a re-grant through the the Minnesota Clean Energy & Jobs Campaign to engage over 15,000 youth in the campaign over the course of the 2014 calendar year. Through in-district meetings, a Youth Lobby Day in support of clean energy legislation, a large-scale youth event in coordination with the coalition-wide rally this spring, and statewide voter engagement, MPIRG, WSF and MNYEN will engage a critical constituency in building Minnesota’s clean energy future. [/important]