Greening Forward: an NGO made by young people for young people

I found Greening Forward almost a year ago when I was reading an article about young entrepreneurs. I read about Charles Orgbon, who founded Recycling Education when he was only 12, and which two years later became Greening Forward. I liked his idea so, almost immediately, I contacted him and since then have been proud to help them.

Greening Forward is a youth-driven organization which believes that young people can lead the way towards sustainable community change. I believe in this idea because young people have the courage and the spirit to be change-makers. We need to provide them with capacity-building resources so that we create support for youth as new leaders.

I firmly believe (and this is the reason I joined them), that we as young people should be the ones who begin to make changes to the world that we live in. More than 50% of the global population is under 25 years old and, just as  we don’t wait for young people to grow up to teach them how to read or write, in the 21st century we cannot wait to provide them with environmental education or to give them the tools that they need to make the difference. Greening Forward is a good platform for young people to create networks that stimulate synergies, improve their capacity-building and promote ideas in their communities. We think that changes begin and grow out of small communities and that by working in these activities young people will learn during the process so that in the future they will be prepared for the really big issues that we will face in the future.

As I wanted my IMSD Colleagues to have the opportunity to read about the partnerships and fund-raising activities developed by this NGO, I sent the CEO, Charles Orgbon, some questions that I thought that would be interesting and also provide a real case of the issues that we have studied in the Development Perspectives module.

When and why did you create this NGO?

In 2008, I founded a non-profit organization, Greening Forward, which works to support a youth-driven, youth-imagined environmental movement across the world. Founding Greening Forward as a 12-year-old 5th grader was my personal response to becoming aware of the environmental issues in our world. Greening Forward at the time was mostly a website and blog. However, as I began taking a leadership role in my community around environmental issues, I saw a void in the environmental movement that was failing to support young people with big ideas for community environmental improvement.  Therefore, Greening Forward evolved into an organization that would support other young environmental leaders.


How has Greening Forward developed since since it started and what changes has it made?

Our volunteer staff of students works with over 1,500 young people in over 15 communities who impact another 10,000 community members through 50 community partners. Currently, I am an 11th grade student, but over the years, I have been able to fundraise over $100,000 to support this cause to empower young environmental leaders; although, most of this support came from a game-changing grant this past year that allowed us to take our work to a new level. We recently hosted the first International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit with 140 young leaders and distributed over $50,000 in grants to young environmental changemakers working on water quality issues. Consequently, our environmental impact in our communities include planting over 300 trees, building over 80 compost bins, installing over 200 rain barrels, monitoring 11 streams, recycling 60 tons of waste, and advocating for a number of environmental issues.

How hard or easy is it for an NGO like Greening Forward to find funds, create partnerships or create new projects?

Being a youth-driven organization has a double-edged sword. First, a part of our organization is attractive to adults because what we are doing is unique and unparalleled. Through Greening Forward, the idea of truly youth-driven, youth-imagined, youth-executed changemaking is quite unheard of at this scale and with this kind of impact within the environmental movement. For that reason, the partnerships we are able to build, are often cherished because we find folks who are genuinely passionate about the work we are doing, want to be plugged into that work, and are interested in creating win-win partnerships. However, because we are a young organization, we are still trying to figure out how to create long lasting funding partnerships. I just believe that we have not meet all of the right people yet, but soon others will continue to “buy-in” to this idea of young people powering the environmental changes they would like to see in their communities. The idea of authentic youth leadership and youthful social entrepreneurship is becoming popular and gaining momentum, and finally adults are able to see more clearly the power of young people to lead transformational social and environmental changes.

Which key points are important for the success of Greening Forward? Do you think that are the same for all NGOs?

We are very genuine to the core beliefs of our organization. Youth are leading the massive environmental change through Greening Forward, and our message of authentic youth leadership provides a missing voice that echoes into many of our partner organizations as well. NGOs must find their niche in their communities and seek every day to make sure it is in alignment with the same mission that it had set out to do.

Are partnerships the most important thing for a NGO?

Partnerships are critical to the survival of any venture. Soon organizations are going to have to realize that we are in this boat together. We share the same sandbox, we have similar journeys, and eventually we must work together. I challenge organizations to re-think what collaborative partnership looks like. It is an awful lot more than sharing each other’s media promotions on Twitter and Facebook. It is about coming to the decision-making table with all stakeholders to produce collective impact. Who brings what to the table? How can we magnify each other’s contributions to create meaningful, substantive change? Today’s global, complex issues that NGOs are hoping to solve were not created independently and they cannot be solved independently.

Charles Orgbon, Greening Forward CEO.

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Comentarios ( 1 Comentario )

Mario, many thanks for sharing Charles Orgbon’s inspiring views with us in this personal way.

ledastott enviado el 21/01/14 10:29

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