Hey, our names are Karissa Arias and Jesus Holguin. We are founders and Youth Organizers for ECO Youth (Environmental Community Organizers). ECO Youth is part of the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island, and we are a grassroots youth-led organization that stands for justice for our communities. We fight against all types of inequality: from racism to classism, from the toxins and pollution in our environment to the health problems in our communities. We promote healthy lifestyles that everyone can access and benefit from.
We need your help to get to an amazing training in Oakland California that will help us be better leaders and Youth Organizers. We are trying to get to the 2013 National Youth Organizing Training Institute in Oakland California, hosted by SOUL, School of Unity and Liberation. This conference is about reflecting back onto ourselves and wanting to look out and reach out for new youth to join us to fight oppression. This would be super helpful to us especially because we are at the point in our group where we want to solidify and expand our group. At this conference we would get an opportunity to learn skills to better ourselves, our group, and our community. At this institute we will get the chance to network with amazing people from all around the country and hear about all the awesome things they are doing - and we will be able to bring all this awesome knowledge back with us into our community work.
Here is some more information about who we are and what we do:
Karissa: I'm a 19 year old Colombian/Italian female living in Providence. I've been working with the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island for about 5 years. I started as a student at the EJ League’s Community Environmental College (CEC) summer program. This is where the flame to my fiery passion for the environment was ignited. After that I helped create ECO Youth and then became a teacher assistant for the CEC and finally a teacher. Between these exciting works I started my own small business Eco Extras. I make jewelry, accessories and stuffed toys called Recycled Rascals. I eventually want to mix my two loves of education and art and become an elementary school art teacher.
Jesus - I’m also 19 years old, I’m Puerto Rican and Dominican and I live in Warwick, RI. I’ve been working with the EJ League for about 4 years. This whole journey started when I was in my sophomore year in high school I started our very first Recycling program called Feinstein Goes Green, that successfully took our school’s environmental grade from a F to an A+. Through the program I met Amelia Rose the Director of the EJ League, who took me under her arm and I've dedicated ever since. I became a student at the CEC and then helped create ECO Youth, I even came up with the name for it. Since then I have been a TA and then a teacher at the CEC. I'm still at the point of my life where everything sounds like something I want to do for the rest of my life so I haven’t decided much on careers that I would want to pursue, but until then I will be attending Community College of Rhode Island and hopefully be able to transfer to UMass Amherst.
ECO Youth has a couple campaigns, one of them being Swagg Snacks. I (Karissa) have always had a struggle with my weight and have family members with food related health issues, diabetes, high blood pressure etc. I also see a lot of students who would have a honeybun rather than a granola bar or delicious smoothie and it makes me sad. I don't want those kids to have health issues at such a young age or struggle with their weight. Swagg Snacks is just a relevant fun way to promote healthy eating and that's why I'm so passionate about it.
Another one of our campaigns and one of my (Jesus’) favorites is the Green D(RI)VE bus. Its an old airport shuttle bus that we have converted to run on locally produced biodiesel and/or used vegetable cooking oil. It's not just a vehicle - it's a symbol of youth power and environmental creativity. We use the bus to host workshops on topics including: Asthma, Diesel Air Pollution, Climate Change, Biodiesel / Veggie Oil, and Environmental Racism. It’s also a community resource where people and organizations can use the bus to travel in an environmentally friendly way. Being a child that has grown up with asthma I know and feel strongly about these issues. So I enjoy being able to go out into the community and show people what all the negative effects of burning dirty diesel and oil production brings to our communities.
ECO Youth also does things in solidarity with other youth-led grassroots groups. We protested foreclosures and evictions, and went to North Carolina with Right to the City where we crashed the Bank of America shareholders meeting. We marched against racial profiling and police brutality and we support workers rights, immigrants rights, and anything that helps out our community.
Please help us raise $1500 so we can have this amazing opportunity to get trained to be better leaders and help our organization and our community!
This is what we need the $1500 for:
($750 per person)
* $150 each for registration fees for the training
* $150 each for food and local travel for the 4 days we are there
* $450 each for round trip plane tickets from Providence RI to the Bay Area, California
- FREE housing thanks to local Bay Area activists!
The training is March 7-9th so we only have a month to raise this money! If we don’t reach our goal we will still go but will have to borrow money to pay for it and then pay it back with our work later. We are also applying for some small grants and doing other fundraising to help us raise this money.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT
ECO Youth (Environmental Community Organizers)