Now approaching its 17th year of existence, the Boston Latin School Youth Climate Action Network is an after school environmental club comprised of middle and high school students at the oldest public school in the US. The student members are leaders: a coalition of youth who seek to address the problem of global climate change in our communities and beyond and to promote education for sustainability. BLS YouthCAN is pursuing incredibly far-reaching initiatives, with a youth network that has 20+ member groups at other schools in Massachusetts.
Every year since 2007, YouthCAN has conducted extensive educational outreach, maintained numerous community partnerships, and organized free events that serve dozens of schools and community organizations. As an example, we hold an annual fall kick-off event and an annual youth climate summit, both of which are free to all. Students launched a statewide "education for sustainability" campaign to incorporate sustainability lessons across subjects for grades 7-12 and organized annual teacher trainings, culminating in the development of the sustainability curriculum that is now in use at Boston Latin School.
We are leaders in the local green schools movement. BLS YouthCAN has established a successful, well documented model for green schools, curricula, youth leadership, and partnerships with the local community. As part of this, student leaders raise all funds through various contests, grants, fundraisers, and donations. These funds are crucial in supporting us in our mission, and help maintain every aspect of our year-to-year activities and operations.
For more information about YouthCAN, we've attached an organization chart and a brochure below.
Check out BLS YouthCAN on NBC's The Today Show!
Today’s students use their secondary education experience to prepare them for the future they will face. They need to learn how to engage in the big-picture, systems thinking that will enable them to meet the issues challenging the global community today and to begin to understand the interconnection and interdependence of the earth’s systems. Such skills will prepare them to make decisions that will impact the sustainability of life on this planet.
BLS YouthCAN’s Green Schools program provides educational opportunities that engage thousands of students every year in service learning and direct action. Students are learning how to plan and organize, and how to present ideas to multiple and diverse constituencies. They’re learning to think on their feet, and be articulate advocates for their initiatives. They’re learning the importance of being broadly informed, finding creative ways to engage others, and recognizing the value of forming coalitions and partnerships. They are learning how to live more sustainably and how to promote sustainability in others.
The students are proud of their work and the recognition it has received and are highly motivated to continue it—perhaps the best benefit of all. Many BLS graduates are now pursuing environmental studies in college. In the Greater Boston area, BLS YouthCAN has become a model for green innovation and integrating education for sustainability, offering a road map for other schools that want to make green changes.
As part of the oldest school in America, BLS YouthCAN students have capitalized on their potential to serve as a powerful example and inspiration, demonstrating how green projects can and should be incorporated into even our oldest institutions and learning systems.