Cultivating Hope on Earth Day – Student Climate Leadership

It’s our favorite day of the year!

This Earth Day, we’re inspired by student climate leadership from East Coast to West.

STEM Academy Local Leaders meet the Green Bronx Machine.

Amador Valley High School Local Leaders train bin monitors at Fairlands Elementary School.

A Message of Hope From our Board President

GGI Board President, Edwin Pinero

“It is hard to believe that our first Earth Day occurred in 1970, over half a century ago.

In those days, the pressing environmental problems and issues dealt with contamination and lack of regulation and control over hazardous wastes. We are so accustomed now to comprehensive rules about hazardous materials management and addressing legacy contaminated sites that it is hard to believe such as time existed when this was not the case. It was growing awareness of these sites that spawned the first Earth Day, and credit goes to Senator Gaylord Nelson in the spring of 1970 to make the day official, followed later in the year by Congress creating the Environmental Protection Agency.

“As we fast-forward through history, we pass through other pivotal moments…

…such as the more stringent material handling rules of the 1980s, the Clean Air Act amendments of the early 1990s, and the onset of the reduce, reuse, recycle era. Again, society responded with increased awareness and education, leveraging market forces, and government regulation and policy to encourage people to be better stewards of the environment.

Bronx STEM Academy students are serving up fresh food with their tower gardens.

“We are at a crossroads yet again. We are in the midst of a great debate on climate change.

And the geopolitics of energy turmoil we see going on right now makes it clear that decisions on energy issues have profound impacts on national security and the stability of economies around the world. Add to this the growing awareness of the fragility of our ecosystems and our impacts to these, most notably plastics in the oceans and deforestation. All of these issues illustrate the close ties between society, the environment, and natural resources.

“But as doom and gloom as this may all sound, we should see Earth Day as a hopeful time, and a positive opportunity.

The same way we as society have caused this impact and damage, we can also turn it around and restore the harmony that had existed for most of humanity’s time on this planet, and that needs to exist again going forward.

“The most important players going forward in that transition back to harmony are those who will be here in the future to make it happen–today’s youth.”

Amador Valley High School Local Leaders study up on local water issues ahead of their Earth Day documentary screening.

Many of these future stewards live in less-than-ideal conditions and are disproportionally more adversely impacted. Poverty, food deserts, limited opportunities all overwhelm the environmental issues that exist right in those same neighborhoods.

“And that is why the Go Green Initiative exists–to provide a multi-faceted pathway for our youth to become the environmental stewards of the future.

This way, Earth Day a half century from now will highlight progress and demonstrate how providing opportunities for our youth back in 2022 changed the world. As the new President of the GGI Board of Directors, I am honored, proud, and excited to be part of this journey!” – Edwin Piñero, GGI Board President

Across the country, youth in our programs build the next generation of environmental leadership.

Read more about their journeys in these stories featured on our blog.

West Side High Local Leaders holding up peace signs and wearing their Local Leaders of the 21st Century shirts Celebrating becoming a Local Leaders Club with their Faculty Advisor. Pictured: Mr. Deaver, Lilian (President), Rofiat, Philip, Favour, Fathia, Ashley, Barbara, Ub, Nicholas, Whelmina, Kayla

West Side High Local Leaders and their Faculty Advisor Mr. Deaver

Newark, NJ – West Side High
Our superstar Local Leaders at West Side High are on a mission for nutrition!

They launched the Nutrition Advisory Council to address healthy options and cultural inclusion on the cafeteria men


Group photo of Stem Academy Local Leaders with Mr. and Mrs. Ritz of the Green Bronx Machine - blue/green in the background along with a cartoon mural of Mr. Ritz, and bright white tower gardens to the side. In front of them are a few beige desks with bright green chairs.

Stem Academy Local Leaders meet the Green Bronx Machine.

The Bronx – STEM Academy
STEM Academy students are serving up fresh food to their community!

Local Leaders met with the amazing Green Bronx Machine to get expert input on their productive tower gardens.



Hearst’s Green Team discusses their bin monitoring process with the PUSD District Green Team.

Pleasanton USD – our home district!
Let’s hear it for the bin monitors!

Pleasanton USD students are tackling their schools’ greenhouse gas emissions by preventing waste contamination.