2024 GLISA Small Grant: Milwaukee Environmental Justice Collaborative Climate Education Resources Serving High School Summer Interns

Project Team

  • Reflo, Inc. (grantee)
  • Cream City Conservation Corps.
  • Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps.
  • Groundwork Milwaukee
  • Menomonee Valley Partners
  • Nearby Nature Milwaukee
  • River Revitalization Foundation
  • Riveredge Nature Center
  • Sixteen Street Community Health Centers
  • Teens Grow Greens
  • TRUE Skool
  • Urban Ecology Center
  • Wild Indigo Nature Explorations Program (Audubon Great Lakes)

Project Summary

Environmental youth programming in the Milwaukee area has been siloed and unnecessarily competitive, which has diminished outcomes for youth, organizations, and communities. While individual youth programs can be successful, the sector could benefit from more cooperation and stronger partnerships. To address these issues, 13 environmental organizations formed an Environmental Justice (EJ) Collaborative Alliance to align efforts and share resources across their internship programs. Every summer, these groups hire over 125 youth across southeastern Wisconsin and throughout the City of Milwaukee. This project supports the alliance and their efforts to connect these (mainly) young people of color to life skills and family-supporting career pathways in climate and environment. The alliance will focus on collaborative programming, synchronized and competitive wages, joint recruitment, and youth networking. The alliance will also develop, share, and deploy climate change and green infrastructure learning units. These units and supporting resources will become a model for the organizations to teach climate change information to interns.

Anticipated Outcomes
  • Climate Change 101 and Green Infrastructure 101 learning units
  • Summer workshops to pilot new lesson plans and resources
  • Lesson plans and modeled activities that are implemented with summer intern groups
Anticipated Impacts
  • Participating organizations will share resources and processes to align future intern programming. 
  • Participating organizations will increase capacity to self-organize under the new EJ Collaborative Alliance. 
  • Over 100 high-schoolers per summer will learn about local climate and green infrastructure topics and will be connected with career opportunities. 
  • Local youth will become empowered and informed environmental leaders and stewards. 
  • Youth leaders will help to transform societal expectations and inspire their peers, engage the next generation, and help disrupt inequitable distributions of power, capital, and expertise.
  • Summer interns will be paid and will be able to make a material difference in the local landscape.
  • Learning units will connect individual actions with the larger story of human choices that impact our climate.
GLISA Contribution

GLISA funded this 2024 small grant project and will compile local climate data and help plan learning unit activities. GLISA will also participate in summer workshops with the intern team and youth managers.

GLISA Contact

Omar Gates, Climatologist, gateso@umich.edu