Last month, students from the St. Louis Park High School in Minnesota presented the Youth Climate Report Card to their City Council. They urged community leaders to do their part to end the climate crisis within the students’ lifetimes, giving the community, which fancies itself progressive, a B-. As a result of the student’s work, the town admitted that it needs to bring it’s grades up on climate change.
The presentation was written up in the Star Tribune and elicited exactly the kind of the response this movement needs: “We need to be pushed,” said Council Member Anne Mavity. “We are trying to be very forward-thinking but we can do more. Help us do that.”
The Youth Climate Report Card is one of several tools that iMatter, a national youth-driven climate change organization dedicated to amplifying the voice of the youngest generation, has created as a part of the new iMatterNow campaign.
iMatter was founded in 2007 by then 13-year-old Alec Loorz, a friend of Hunter Lovins. Over the last eight years, iMatter has engaged hundreds of thousands of young people, organized iMatter Marches in over 200 cities, and recruited youth plaintiffs for public trust lawsuits and petitions in almost every state.
Despite real progress in global attention on climate change, the increase in carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is still far too high. Clearly, something is missing in the battle to end the climate crisis.
At the end of 2014, iMatter formed a new strategy. As recent activism has demonstrated, big social changes can occur when personal and emotional connections are made. iMatter’s history demonstrates that youth can play this kind of catalytic role.
iMatter’s big idea is to make climate change personal by giving passionate high school and middle school youth pragmatic ways to press for meaningful climate action in their communities.
iMatterNow is a vision for that path forward. Based on iMatter’s years of experience in working with youth leaders who care about climate change, it emerged from an intensive 15-month digital development and campaign testing effort. iMatterNow gives youth groups specific tools to push communities to do their part in ending the climate crisis.
- The Youth Climate Report Card, created online, is an accountability tool young citizens can use to present the need for action to their City Council. It is based on science from some of the world’s leading climate scientists, and created with input from top energy analysts from around the country.
- The Youth Petition, a combination online/offline tool, can demonstrate how important the issue is to the youth of a community.
- The Climate Inheritance Resolution, is a template for a City Council resolution that gets the community on the path to doing its part, and is typically the “ask” of a City Council from the Report Card.
- The iMatterNow campaign software is a custom developed mobile-friendly digital platform. It leverages the experience iMatter has in helping youth advocate for themselves into a one-of-a-kind “virtual mentor.” Templates for speeches, classroom presentations, media advisories, press releases, campaign posters, social media campaigns, as well as how-to-guides for youth marches, public display projects, and generating media coverage are presented in an easy-to-use and fun manner.
But iMatter is much more than tools. Participants plug into a vibrant network of passionate, youth leaders from around the country in the iMatter Youth Council (iMYC). Built around a series of self-organizing, empowered teams, the iMYC steers iMatter campaigns and provides a strong peer-to-peer support structure.
Most importantly, iMatterNow is working. In pilot campaigns like St. Louis Park, youth are showing their parents, grandparents and neighbors that climate change is about their lives. And they are doing it in a morally-powerful, media-generating fashion.
The time for arguments and delays is over. With the right tools and support, passionate young people can inspire their community and generate the will needed to protect the future of their generation and all those to come.
For more information, visit www.iMatterYouth.org.