Last week, Our Climate (OC) helped its own members and members of Massachusetts Climate Education Organization (MCEO) submit House Budget Amendment #1354 which would put us on the state budget. states that “$200,000 shall be expended for Our Climate for the purpose of providing climate justice education, advocacy training and skills development to youth”. This would transform Our Climate’s current budget in the state, ensure our program’s sustainability, and allow us to pay more youth both in our own program and across the Massachusetts Youth Climate Coalition for this critical coalition work. These amendment will be one among over 1,000 considered this week. Here’s what two of our youth leaders on Our Climate’s payroll have to say:
Throughout my work with advocacy, I find myself at a crossroads: do I take the role that pays me or the one that fulfills my academic and personal interests? As a low-income college student, I grappled throughout my first-year with the prospect of joining organizations that aligned with my values; however, these opportunities would take much of my time without any form of compensation. For many of us, feeling good about our work and the impact it’s having on the community is not enough to pay cell phone bills, college tuition, rent payments, food costs, and a myriad of other considerations for low-income families.
The prospect of providing compensation to a greater number of youth advocates is empowering. When we receive funding for our work, we are helping the world around us while ensuring that our own personal needs are being met. It is internally challenging for me to risk a paid opportunity for one of passion because I do not have the luxury of choosing my passions over my pay. With this amendment, legislators are helping relieve the cost-related and personal burdens from youth advocates who grapple with pursuing their passions in spite of pay disparities everyday; this funding serves as an equitable pathway by which low-income youth can become centralized in the conversation of environmental justice and present our much-needed ideas in this fight against climate change.
Hannah, Program Intern
Youth are at risk of inheriting the disastrous effects of climate change, yet we do not have the voice or influence to make the change we need. As a full time student, I do not have the time to devote to the work that I want to do and that needs to be done. However, finding pathways to compensation for my work has helped me sustain myself and the time I spend on climate advocacy. This compensation can make it possible for this work to replace a separate job I may need to hold.
I am able to build support for climate policy because of the work youth have put in before me and in me to develop my skills. Without their tireless work, much of which was unpaid, I would not have the privilege to be a part of Our Climate. In order to make youth work sustainable, we need to be compensated for our time and emotional energy. I hope the legislature does its part in making that possible.