Better Future Project is ecstatic to share that we have completed the first season of our Climate Justice Fellowship Program! The program ran from January-May and consisted of ten students from six campuses in Massachusetts.
When I joined BFP in September 2015 as the new campus organizer, I was presented with the idea of coordinating a new fellowship program as part of my campus divestment work. The interests were to deepen our student connections, offer more consistent mentorship and training, and facilitate cross-campus relationships. We have seen how youth and student power has radically shaped the urgency and direction of the climate narrative. If we were to be an organization that took seriously the enormity of the climate crisis, then we must take seriously the need to deeply build relationships with and train young people to be powerful organizers. After months and months of organizational soul searching, visioning, and extensive planning, Craig Altemose, Shea Riester and I developed the Climate Justice Fellowship Program!
Shea and I started the program with a kickoff retreat at the end of January, where we facilitated a space that allowed people to get connected, vulnerable, and real about their campaigns. Following the retreat, we held monthly daylong trainings that covered many issues that student campaigns often struggle with, including group structure, anti-oppression, facilitation, and strategy planning. At each training, we would try to end the day by making public commitments for what we wanted to get done by the next month. In between, I would have biweekly one-on-one mentorship meetings with each fellow to dive deeper into the training material, their campaign, and their leadership development.
You can read more about our amazing Spring 2016 Fellows here! These past months have been full of deep bonds of love for our earth and for each other, collective growth in our knowledge of the injustices that we face, and a commitment to challenge and support each other to be moral and compassionate leaders in action. Though their time together as fellows is now done, I feel confident that this group will continue to find support, joy, and love with each other moving forward.
The program was a huge challenge, and it felt risky for me to coordinate in my first year of this position. There have been mistakes made, late nights, and occasional tears, and I often felt overwhelmed with the enormous enterprise we had undertaken. But I end this season with the resounding certainty that I am not alone in fighting for a more just world. With every day at BFP, I get to be a part of growing this movement one person at a time, and thus making the load on my shoulders just a little bit lighter. While the Spring Fellowship is over, we are already deeply underway with the next season - our Summer Fellowship! If you are excited about our student engagement work, you can donate to support our summer fellows here! There will be another season of the Fellowship this Fall. Please subscribe to our newsletter to stay updated.
If you have questions about the Fellowship Program, please contact me at <[email protected]>.