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Dear EcoRise community,

Andy Williams was really onto something when he sang the lyrics to one of my favorite holiday songs, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” This holiday season comes with a variety of sights, smells, and sounds that remind me of how grateful I am and how much good there is in the world. If you set an intention to see hope in times of despair, and opportunities when faced with obstacles, it’s easy to find examples of kindness, potential, and hope everywhere you look. It’s this focus on hope, action, and justice that is one of the things I love most about EcoRise.

As a former principal of an EcoRise elementary school in Washington, D.C. Public Schools, I’ve had the opportunity to see the impact of EcoRise programs firsthand. Today, I serve as the Board Chair of this small, but mighty organization that has activated young people to take action in solving social and environmental problems in their communities across the country since 2008.

This winter, for the first time in our fourteen-year history, EcoRise is providing a quarter of our annual fundraising campaign revenue to a community-based partner. Over the last few years, EcoRise has been working with PODER (People Organized in Defense of Earth and Her Resources) to introduce our high school students in central Texas to local environmental justice history and community organizing. PODER is a grassroots social justice organization that was formed in 1991 that works to educate and activate their community and build coalitions for economic development and environmental protection. Learn more about their current priorities including the Young Scholars for Justice program, a voter education program, and campaigns fighting for equity in policies related to land use, environmental justice, public transportation, and access to solar energy. EcoRise programs are strengthened by deep partnerships with community-based organizations like PODER and we are hopeful this provides a model to encourage other nonprofits to consider how they might support their community partners in fundraising.

Your support before the end of the year will help grow EcoRise’s youth programs and our ability to foster local, community-based connections and mentorship for our youth leaders. Donate today and your gift will be doubled thanks to our Leadership Circle Matching Fund!

We know that young people must be part of the solution to the enormous challenges posed by climate change. We’ve seen youth develop creative, new solutions to some of the biggest problems our world faces. EcoRise’s programs mobilize and support the next generation of leaders to design healthy, just, and thriving communities for all. December is known as a season for giving and I cannot think of a cause more worthy of investment than supporting young people to be changemakers for the good of this planet. Learn more about EcoRise’s youth programs your donation will support in the 2021–2022 Impact Report. This report gives me hope for a future, one that reminds us all that it truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Together, #WeRise.

Happy Holidays and all the best for an amazing New Year,

Heather Hairston
EcoRise Board Chair