The Shawn Mendes Foundation has announced it is helping fund the Youth Climate Finance Alliance (YCFA), coordinated by Future Coalition, to directly compensate youth climate organizers for their work, time, and energy, as well as provide free virtual training on organizing, justice, anti-oppression, climate finance, storytelling, and mental health with the goal of making the climate justice movement more powerful and accessible than ever before.
Shawn Mendes, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter and founder of The Shawn Mendes Foundation, built to empower young people and youth changemakers, has recognized the increasingly urgent need to fund organizers at a grassroots level and the importance of lowering the barriers preventing young people — especially BIPOC frontline activists — to lead the climate movement. The Shawn Mendes Foundation will be making a grant to support the Youth Climate Finance Alliance, a climate finance movement built from the networks of Future Coalition. The contribution from The Shawn Mendes Foundation will directly support public, open-to-all training sessions as well as provide financial support towards a cohort of fifty activists completing more in-depth trainings.
In collaboration with the youth-led organizations that helped organize the US 2019 and 2020 Climate Strikes, the Youth Climate Finance Alliance provides frameworks for the climate movement’s call for an end to the era of fossil fuels. By holding financial institutions accountable for their role in the climate emergency and compensating young people for their environmental organizing efforts, the larger climate justice movement is now able to make its impacts more accessible and strategic than ever before by providing young people the tools and financial resources to empower their social impact work.
Mendes plans to join in on actions led by the Youth Climate Finance Alliance and attend the virtual training sessions to further his understanding of climate finance. Mendes shares, “I’m excited to join in the climate movement alongside powerful youth climate organizers. Compensating young people for the climate activism work they are doing through the training is so important. We can’t wait to save our planet tomorrow, we need to defend it today and there is no better group leading change than young people.”
Sof Petros, a Youth Climate Finance Alliance coordinator, shared, “Black, Indigenous, racialized youth, those living in rural and/or frontline communities, and people living at the intersections of various systems of oppression, have the analysis and lived experiences that the climate justice movement needs to be led with. However, they are also the most likely to face socio-economic instability that directly conflicts with their ability to organize. That’s no accident. When we fail to compensate youth organizers, we create a movement dominated by the voices and perspectives of those with more access to wealth and power, and it fails to center the most marginalized. If we are serious about climate justice, it’s time to get serious about investing in our young people and their powerful visions of a future beyond extraction.”
The Youth Climate Finance Alliance is hosting the Political Education Series, a free multi-week virtual training held leading up to the climate change conference COP26 in early November. With instruction from movement-building experts, attendees of the Political Education Series will gain a foundational understanding of climate finance, including information concerning the ways large financial institutions and structures fund the climate crisis.
As part of the series, organizers are offered tools and resources on how to mobilize a shift in power within their respective communities, all in efforts to construct an economy that sustains and regenerates Earth’s natural resources for all walks of life. The Political Education training discusses honoring Indigenous sovereignty and calls for #LandBack, as well center the various climate-vulnerable communities.