Greening Forward 2016-2017 Annual Report

Dear Greening Forward Supporters,

I joined Greening Forward in May of 2017. Although at the time I knew that I was joining an organization that had stretched the boundaries on what was thought to be possible for young people to accomplish, I did not fully realize its true potential. After nearly 6 months with the organization, I see it as a true frontrunner in the race to develop our youth’s passion for creating environmental change.

Since its founding by Charles Orgbon III in 2008, Greening Forward has grown to be the largest youth-led nonprofit in the country, and it has been able to accomplish feats that most would think were reserved for adults. As of October 2017, Greening Forward has given out over $76,600 in grants to young people through our grant program, the Earth Savers Club. In the summer of 2017, Greening Forward and the Captain Planet Foundation co-hosted the Green Schools Conference and Expo’s youth summit, which saw environmentalists from across the spectrum come together to share their stories and experiences. And with help from filmmaker Sean Bradley, a documentary was created showcasing the story of Greening Forward’s pathway to its current standings.

Young people across the world are ready to tackle the biggest environmental challenges that face our society today. However, our society must open up with leadership opportunities and forums for these young leaders to express themselves, or else their impact can never be truly felt. With your support, Greening Forward will remain dedicated to pursuing its goal of enabling any and all youth to be the leaders that we all need today.

In our 2016-2017 annual report, come with us as we highlight what has happened in the past two years, and showcase what can be expected in the future.

In the middle of February 2017, several Greening Forward all-stars gathered in Atlanta, Georgia to celebrate the 9 years of student voice and leadership put into action. Before the glamor of a rooftop penthouse for the venue or the reflection of countless memories through a documentary, I had an honest discussion about the future of Greening Forward with the founder in December of 2016.

I have known Charles Orgbon III since I hired him in the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences’ Young Scholars Program in 2013. By the end of Young Scholars, Charles and I continued to stay in touch and I was eventually added to his list of mentors concerning Greening Forward. After being aware that Charles was graduating from the University of Georgia, talks of transition was necessary to keep Greening Forward thriving for the next 9 years. I was unaware if I would attend Greening Forward’s “end” or “beginning” in February but I desired to do whatever I could to keep the dream a reality.

To help with leadership transition, I decided to serve as Interim President and CEO of Greening Forward. Once I met with the movers and shakers of the organization, I presented a proposal; to pursue financial opportunities through grants and programs, improve internal structure of the organization, and hire the next President and CEO of Greening Forward. Over a six-month period, Greening Forward increased its funding source through the LUSH Grant and the partnership with the Captain Planet Foundation to plan and execute the 2017 Youth Summit of the Green Schools Conference & Expo in Atlanta, Georgia. Through one-on-one interviews with experienced staff and fresh perspectives from newer staff, I was able to implement structural changes through agenda-setting strategies, greater transparency within the organization, and matching skillsets with strengths. My greatest accomplishment was hiring the next President and CEO. Approximately 100 applicants applied nationally and abroad for the coveted position and only 3 applicants were selected for an interview.

Through unanimous decision, Robert Walton was selected as the next President and CEO of Greening Forward. I am so proud that we were successfully able to find Robert among so many candidates because his quality and vision for Greening Forward is what is vital to propel us to our next journey. I have confidence that Robert will build from the foundation and momentum by the previous CEOs. Greening Forward has also challenged me to serve in a different way within the organization. Thus, I founded the Greening Forward Advisory Committee and the future launch of the Greening Forward Alumni Association. As I work in different areas within the organization, Robert continues to lead with innovation and new ideas. He is my best investment in Greening Forward’s future and I look forward to seeing his impact in one of the greatest organizations by the youth, for the youth, to empower the youth.

Narke Norton

GREEN sCHOOLS coNFERENCE AND exposition Youth Summit

Greening Forward had the opportunity to help run the Youth Summit portion of the U.S. Green Building Council's annual Green Schools Conference and Expo. Over the span of two days, presenters involved in many areas of the environmental movement helped students find their voice to stand up and speak out!

Students learning about their capability to act at GSCE
Narke Norton leads an open discussion on youth action

Green Schools Conference and Exposition 2018 is currently being planned for May 3-4th in Denver, Colorado. For more information, click here.


Held annually, the International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit (IYEYS) is a youth-imagined, youth-driven, and youth-executed event aimed at providing young environmentalists the tools they need to take their campaigns to the next level.

In 2016 our Youth Summit reached new heights, as we had a record-number of students who attended it, along with stellar presentations from our guests.

150 Students from over 10 different states came to learn at IYEYS 2016
Students engage with each other during a discussion section
20 seminars took place over the 2-day conference

At IYEYS, we cover such topics as: how to turn a project idea into action, how to create diverse, inclusive projects, how to develop skills that build your volunteer team, how adults can leverage youth engagement, and much more.

During a break period, IYEYS members participate in yoga, one of several available options
The MEANS group presenting at IYEYS 2016
Over 20 organizations were represented

IYEYS 2016 had an expansive list of guest speakers and organizations who volunteered their time to come present. New York City Council Member Costa Constantinides, New York City Sustainability Director Nilda Mesa, The Audubon Society​, The Alliance for Climate Education, and the National Wildlife Federation Eco Schools​ were some of those groups represented.

The Greening Forward Team and some IYEYS participants holding the Earth Ball

After the great success of IYEYS 2016, IYEYS 2018 is currently being planned. Visit our website or subscribe to our newsletter here to find out more about it!

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