Crista Valentino, Founder and Director – CoalitionWILD

Globally, societies are facing unprecedented conditions that are unique to where they are and the circumstances that they live in, which means there isn’t a one-solution-fits-all and the most viable solutions will be developed from those who are from these communities living those challenges each day. Too often groups will come in and implement a solution they think is best, leaving that community lacking empowerment to take control of their own future. CoalitionWILD is flipping this model on its head.

CoalitionWILD’s 2019 Ambassador Program will equip 35 emerging leaders, under 30 years old, with guides, toolkits, mentorship, webinars, and a supportive network facilitating their growth. CoalitionWILD believes in the power of this generation to generate change, and works to ensure that the voices of young people are both heard and valued. We encourage young leaders to step up and into opportunities to amplify youth voice in decision making, to create solutions for a better planet, and to drive change. However, we can’t expect this outcome without facilitating the process.

That’s why, at the end of the nine-month program, participants are required to implement an on-the-ground project of their own development and design, or to scale up a project they are already working on. CoalitionWILD will work with our Ambassadors to help them move from passion into action, creating a safe place to take the first step into actively creating solutions and utilizing their voice.

It’s important to advocate for a stronger youth voice throughout the environmental sector, especially in decision making and program development that is directed at the next generation. Taking the first step in activism and involvement is intimidating, yet localized projects are increasingly more effective when developed, driven, and carried out by the person who knows the challenges in that community best – the person on the ground, living it every day, and with a passion to see long term change. That is why the CoalitionWILD Ambassador Program is designed to support young leaders in getting involved through developing a space for encouragement, empowerment, learning, and creation. By building the leadership skills in these young people, we are creating leaders not just one time, not just for one challenge they face, and not just in their communities, but we are building leaders for the planet, for a lifetime.

A seed grant from TPP did more than just help to fund crucial aspects that allowed for CoalitionWILD’s development – it told us that others believed in the work we were doing. It gave us the confidence to continue forward by validating that our vision was both important and necessary. Countless organizations focus on youth empowerment with designed programs aimed to steer young people through a mission-driven course with an outcome focused more on fulfilling the organization’s mandate than assessing and understanding the needs of the community in which that youth lives. CoalitionWILD is committed to not only giving young people the tools to design the future they want, but the empowerment to know that they know how to use those tools best. Through the initial seed grant, TPP gave CoalitionWILD the empowerment that we strive to give others.

Receiving this larger award allows us to further develop the curriculum, materials, and resources that we offer to participants in our Ambassador program, which means we not only increase our own reach and impact, but also increase the impact of those we work with. Through supporting our work, TPP has created a ripple effect that we commit to furthering for future years. Because of this support, we are able to increase the number of Ambassadors we work with to 30, which means 30 new community-focused action projects to help the environment, 30 new leaders ready to use their voice and their abilities at home and abroad, and 30 new reasons to be hopeful for the future of our planet.

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