By Mikaela Foehr April 7, 2023

Climate change is a global crisis impacting everything, everywhere, all at once and tackling it requires local climate solutions. This means governments addressing the climate crisis, and organizations like Defend Our Future advocating for solutions, must center community needs and community voices. This is a focus of every program and campaign Defend Our Future runs.  

Community Organizing Fellows 

Defend Our Future’s first cohort of Community Organizing Fellows is officially out in the field! This program embeds community activists with local environmental organizations to fill capacity gaps in their work while demonstrating support for clean energy investments and natural climate solutions. The partnership is designed to be beneficial to everyone involved. It provides fellows with community organizing experience and a monetary stipend, community-oriented environmental organizations with added support, and EDF and Defend Our Future with collaboration opportunities. The Community Organizing Fellows program expands Defend Our Future’s youth program by engaging young people between the ages of 23 and 35 and provides engagement opportunities for our college network after graduation. 

Meet the fellows 

Georgina Monsalvo is based in Phoenix, AZ and is working with Vote Solar to educate the local community on the benefits of community solar and how to make it a reality. Georgina comes to us with a strong background in community organizing and a particular passion for how educational and environmental inequities intersect. 





Lenlee Davis is based in Denver, CO and is working with Colorado Rising to help plan a series of outdoor activism events and build policy-oriented calls to action. Lenlee is currently pursuing a Master in Public Policy and is drawn to this work to fight environmental racism and uplift voices that have been historically marginalized in the environmental space.





Maliyah Womack is based in Washington, D.C. and is working with Our Climate to expand their youth ambassador program and organize Earth Day events. Maliyah is passionate about advancing environmental justice and advocating for community-based solutions. 






Seeding the Future: Engaging in Communities 

Seeding the Future is more than a great way to demonstrate young people’s excitement for the recently enacted climate and clean energy investments, it is also a learning opportunity for our campus ambassadors. 

Every community has a unique environment and faces unique challenges when implementing climate solutions. With guidance from the Defend Our Future team, our campus ambassadors work to map out their communities’ key challenges, needs and influencers. This background research helps campus ambassadors see how Defend Our Future can make a difference in IRA implementation, whether by lending voices to organizations already doing the work, engaging with local decision-makers or planning educational events.  

Defend Our Future’s Metro State University team in Denver, CO has been working particularly hard on this campaign. Campus ambassadors Tariq Guidry and Taylor Lucas already have 4 events with 2 partner organizations lined up to build more equitable access to green spaces on their campus and in the city of Denver. 

“This is a really cool campaign because of how it touches on the inequities of green space access for low-income communities. It is especially important here because MSU is made up of mostly first-generation college students, many of whom have never been to the mountains around us, and because Denver as a city is notorious for green space inequities.” – Taylor Lucas 

The pair is partnering with MSU’s campus sustainability program to create a campus garden and an entire week of Earth Month events. They will also continue to discuss inequitable access to green space as they speak to elected officials. 

Tariq has even connected this campaign to his senior thesis! His thesis focuses on the many benefits of community gardens in low-income neighborhoods, including access to nature, nutrition diversity and tree cover. Talk about seeding a sustainable future! 


EJ for All 

We must enact legislation that justly and equitably addresses the climate crisis while prioritizing communities. The A. Donald McEachin Environmental Justice for All Act is one such piece of legislation. Defend Our Future and EDF proudly support the EJ for All Act, which was introduced on the steps of the Capitol on March 22 by Reps. Raúl Grijalva and Barbara Lee and Sens. Cory Booker and Tammy Duckworth. 

Environmental justice is intrinsic to Defend Our Future’s mission. The EJ for All Act is a significant step towards ensuring health equity, a fair and just transition to clean energy and empowered and resilient communities. The bill includes funding for environmental justice grants, provisions requiring cumulative impact considerations and mandating “early and meaningful” consultation with communities regarding proposed actions.  

Defend Our Future is already mobilizing our network of young activists to demonstrate support for the EJ for All Act. We are circulating a petition and our campus ambassadors are voicing their support for this bill and the commitment to environmental justice it demonstrates when meeting with federal legislators.  

Campus ambassadors Margaret and Fiona from George Washington University and Taylor and Devonte from Howard University recently met with staffers from Sen. Markey and Sen. Fetterman’s offices respectively to voice their support for comprehensive environmental justice legislation. In every office visit our campus ambassadors and their student volunteers connect federal priorities to community realities. Using their personal stories is a powerful tool that helps our campus ambassadors build credibility and relationships with each office, and with their stories, they demonstrate why young people need community-oriented climate action. 


Taylor and Devonte (left) were the first youth climate activists to meet with Fetterman’s office and we are already planning future meetings and events with them.  


  • University of Central Florida campus ambassadors were at the VoLo Climate Correction Conference in Orlando! They also hosted a Defend Our Produce event with Rewild, talking about Seeding the Future and sustainable produce and residential pesticides.  


  • Central College ambassadors in Iowa hosted a Defend & Drinks night featuring mocktails from women-owned businesses to celebrate Women’s History Month and discuss their upcoming Seeding the Future plans with volunteers.
  • Colorado State University hosted a composting event in partnership with The Fox Den, a local zero-waste café. Campus Ambassadors Reaghan & Rebekah provided resources to participants on how to compost and had the café owners speak on how they maintain their status of zero-waste. 


Coming up next 

  • Defend Our Beer in D.C. on April 19! Come celebrate Earth Day with us at City State Brewing as we taste local craft beer and learn about how the climate crisis is affecting agriculture, green spaces and our oh-so-precious hops. We will also be joined by Sen. John Hickenlooper, EDF’s Andrew Lentz, and a number of local D.C. breweries.
  • Richard Gallon will be conducting his Environmental Justice and You training at the end of this month. Come join us to learn about the history of environmental justice in the U.S., how your identity impacts the power and privilege you have, and how we can work toward integrating environmental justice in all we do. Stay on the lookout for the RSVP link and the final date and time!