An Austin youth council will be convened to represent high schools that are impacted by climate hazards.
Austin, Texas, September 23, 2021 — In partnership with Austin Independent School District, the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability, the University of Texas’s Planet Texas 2050, the national sustainability education non-profit EcoRise will organize and facilitate Austin’s first Climate Equity Youth Council, engaging high school youth as leaders in local climate action. Twenty to thirty youth council members will be chosen from Austin ISD high schools that are directly impacted by climate hazards (ie. extreme heat, flooding). Motivated students who are interested in engaging in community issues around climate change, environmental policy, and environmental justice are encouraged to apply to the council in its inaugural year. Applications for the council are open now through October 8, 2021, and youth accepted to the council will work throughout the 2021–2022 school year. Students of color, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+, and/or immigrant/migrant experiences are encouraged to apply.
The Climate Equity Youth Council will give a platform to youth who want to actively engage in the civic process and invest in the future of their city. Their work will support the implementation of the City of Austin’s Climate Equity Plan and Austin ISD’s sustainability and resilience planning. As members of the Youth Climate Equity Council, students will learn about sustainability and city planning, and how this relates to improving their community’s health and well-being, as well as have extensive opportunities for professional development, sharpening leadership and communication skills, and networking. They will also learn about citizen science methods (i.e., photovoice, storytelling) to identify issues and prioritize initiatives. This includes collaboration with city and community mentors to develop youth insights, increase communication, and build accountability for implemented climate action in their campus and community.
“Youth voices are critical to climate work,” said Lucia Athens, the City of Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “The actions we’re taking now will help shape the world they inherit. We’re thrilled to bring young people into the process and give them a seat at the table.”
EcoRise has been empowering students as green leaders for the past thirteen years in Texas and across the U.S. “We are excited to bring this program to Austin. Youth are powerful allies in promoting solutions for climate resilience. We believe that the Youth Climate Equity Council will create meaningful change and provide invaluable opportunities for future green leaders and changemakers,” said EcoRise Youth Program Director Brittany Jayroe.
For more information about the Austin Youth Climate Equity Council and the application process, please visit https://bit.ly/AYCapplication21. Interested students should complete the application form by October 8, 2021. Applicants are strongly encouraged to preview the questions and reach out to EcoRise, using the information contained in the link, for any support they may need in filling out the application.
EcoRise develops the next generation of green leaders by enlivening conventional classrooms with academically aligned K–12 curricula that introduce students to environmental literacy, social innovation, and hands-on design skills. EcoRise is currently supporting over 5,700 teachers in helping over 362,000 students solve real-world sustainability challenges concerning energy, water, waste, transportation, air quality, food, and public spaces. The program focuses on enhancing STEM education, promoting sustainability, introducing students to green careers, and helping students develop 21st-century skills. To learn more about EcoRise, visit www.ecorise.org.
About the City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability
Austin’s Office of Sustainability works to ensure a thriving, equitable, and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin. The Office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions, a healthy and just local food system, resource-efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability, and a resilient and adaptive city. Find out more at www.austintexas.gov/sustainability.
Laura Fuller, EcoRise
Shannon Stewart, Office of Sustainability