How it all started...
In July 2012, Rio de Janeiro hosted over 45,000 people for Rio+20: United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Child rights activist turned youth advocate, the Founder, Steve Lee, was at the Rio+20 as a policy advocate for children and youth. Having started as a child rights activist through UNICEF at the age of 16, Steve traveled the world in his youth for policy advocacy. Inadvertently caught in the midst of a protest by youth and indigenous leaders at the Rio+20 compound, Steve reflected on whether he was doing what he was doing because it was the most effective way to contribute to solving the problem or because it was self-glorifying. While it could be both, it was rather for the latter reason, Steve says. Upon returning home to Toronto, Steve realized that the most effective way he could contribute to solving the problem was talking to his friends. No one was talking to his friends in a way that compelled to take action, so he started talking to his friends, their friends, classrooms, and schools.
FES began with a dozen volunteers out of a dorm in the St. Hilda's building at the Trinity College in the University of Toronto. We hosted seminars and conferences throughout the Greater Toronto Area. We did not have much success getting into a single public high school, so we went to universities and conferences. Then we got into some private high schools. When we finally got into the first public high school, the word traveled and we quickly became high in demand.
We are incredibly excited to be working with 50 universities and colleges and 700 high schools to empower the final generation that can solve climate change to create a more inclusive, equitable, prosperous, and sustainable future.