The ACE name speaks for itself:: Alliance for Climate Education. And we don’t take the ‘Alliance’ part lightly. While we believe that investing in young people will guarantee a stable climate future, we don’t think that any one approach or group can achieve that on its own. We also know that young people have to be involved in shaping that future. So when the students of Boston Latin School (BLS) and Acton-Boxborough High School invited ACE to join in planning the 2014 YouthCAN Summit (Youth Climate Action Network)-- a conference coordinated primarily by high school students in collaboration with other organizations, we jumped at the chance to work with youth and other regional leaders in climate action.
YouthCAN was initiated by students in the Boston Latin School environmental club who wanted to partner with neighboring environmental clubs to work together to green their schools. Their goal was to create a network where students, school administrators, public officials and local business professionals could collaborate towards a more sustainable Greater Boston Area. The success of this network led to an annual summit which is now in its eighth year and brings together the most energetic and solutions-driven participants from all over New England. This year, ACE joined with BLS, Acton-Boxborough Regional Schools', Boston Public Schools, and MIT to coordinate the summit. We had an incredible turnout, as you can see below.
YouthCAN Summit by the numbers:
- 160 students and teachers (broken into approximately 140 students and 20 teachers) attended
- 38 workshop presenters, exhibitors, volunteer facilitators, invited guests, and speakers
- 34 high schools , 9 middle schools , 5 youth organizations were represented at the Summit
This year’s YouthCAN Summit featured some of the most outstanding voices in the climate movement. Particularly, ACE Alumna and Brower Youth Award winner, Chloe Maxim, who delivered one of the day’s keynote addresses. Chloe has been at the forefront of the Divest Harvard campaign -- putting pressure on Harvard to divest its $32 billion endowment from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in socially responsible companies. Chloe’s presentation was particularly inspiring for the youth in attendance since just two years ago, she was a high school student herself.
Rachel Gutter, one of the most recognizable experts on green schools, spoke about the intersection of sustainable schools and successful students. Rachel is the Director of the Center Green Schools for the USGBC and has been the driving force behind the organization’s high school LEED certification program and Green Apple Day of Service. Students were eager to talk to Rachel after her presentation to learn more about upgrading their current facilities to LEED standards and how to leave a clean-energy legacy at their schools.
Finally, in quite possibly the high point of the conference, Climate Justice Hip Hop Artist, Tem Blessed talked about how he uses music as a tool to propagate climate consciousness and action. Tem Blessed has been the voice behind some of the most infectious raps in our award-winning Assembly. At the YouthCAN Summit, Tem delivered a captivating performance that called on audience members to use their passion and talents to shift culture through art.
Although you might have missed the YouthCAN Summit, you can support New England ACE leaders in campaigning for government, business and nonprofit leaders to adopt their climate action resolution by signing the Step it Up for Our Future petition and sharing it with your social media networks. Getting adult leaders to listen and act on climate might seem like a tall order, but we believe that YouthCAN get it done.