From one high school to the White House: Daniela's ripple effect

Daniela PortraitThis is a guest post from Daniela Lapidous, an undergraduate at Columbia University and an Alumna of the Harker School in San Jose, CA. Daniela is on ACE's Youth Advisory Board and is a co-founder of Don't forget to read about other amazing students and alumni showing their love for ACE here.

I know people toss this phrase around pretty lightly, but seeing one of ACE's first presentations changed my life. In school, there were several attempts to teach us climate science – but none with such a clear call to action. They truly inspired me to make change in my school and in my community at large.

With the help of an ACE grant, my friend Shreya and I were able to install energy monitoring technology at our school. When we saved both energy and money, we expanded the project to other local schools. Our project’s success brought us to speak at PowerShift, to 6,000 college students, the White House, to 100 energy executives and leaders, and at the Clinton Global Initiative. It was amazing.

Several students inspired by our project came to us for advice, even though we we were still learning along the way. It taught me that ACE students in action create a ripple effect of even more action. This was our story.

Daniela SignToday, I am running a climate activism campaign at my college, Barnard Columbia Divest. A lot of our work is crafting a compelling story that calls people to action. It’s really hard to address big problems in an uplifting way, but that’s one thing that ACE has down, and I often think of them as my model.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the future. What’s going to come of my climate leadership on campus, the activism of thousands of my ACE peers around the country, my generation?

I hope to see more and more students like me pushing most American universities to divest from fossil fuel industries, and making it unthinkable for political candidates to win office without a strong, proactive platform on climate. It may seem big, but I know we can do this.

I’ve also been thinking more meta about how tackling climate change is an opportunity for my generation.

This is an issue that connects to everything -- ethics, social justice, and power dynamics. As a byproduct of our activism, we can demand a society where people act more responsibly and equitably towards each other and where power is responsible to the people, especially to the next generation they will influence.

Climate is only one of the world's problems, but since it underlies everything, and because all of us see and feel it right now, it is a cause we can rally around in order to build a better society.

I want you to join me in pushing climate forward. Donate to ACE today. Our future is in your hands. Help us make it a green one.