Environmental Leaders of Color, a Mount Vernon-based organization committed to educating marginalized communities about climate change and clean energy, celebrated the second year of its Student Summer Energy & Environmental Program for Teens (SSEEPT). Over one hundred students from Mount Vernon, New Rochelle, Yonkers, and Port Chester participated in the six-week educational program culminating in a showcase of their final projects and a graduation ceremony at the Yonkers Waterfront Library on August 12, 2022. Following the graduation exercise, students were treated to lunch at X2O restaurant in Yonkers.
The Student Summer Energy & Environmental Program for Teens is the brainchild of the Environmental Leaders of Color (ELOC), a fiscally sponsored not-for-profit organization whose mission is to empower underserved communities to embrace the benefits of clean energy technology and reap the environmental, health, environmental and financial benefits it provides. ELOC sponsored the first Student Summer Energy & Environmental Program for Teens last year for seventeen students in Mount Vernon. Its five-fold growth in just its second year is a testament to the program’s innovative curriculum focused on climate change and clean energy.
On August 12th, the morning activity began with Student Showcase, which provided the ideal occasion for the students to display more than a dozen group projects they created during the 6-week program. The students were able to demonstrate how their projects worked, but more importantly, they could explain the scientific principles underlying their projects to the attendees. “It is essential that members of all communities understand climate change and its impact on our communities. Allowing our children to approach climate change and destruction from a solution-based perspective gives us hope for the future,” says Dr. Diana Williams, ELOC’s cofounder. Projects included solar-powered robots, a hydrogen-powered vehicle, solar ovens, food waste, a DIY battery, and many more.
The Graduation Ceremony honored the more than 100 students with a Certificate of Completion, a computer tablet, and a modest stipend. Mount Vernon’s Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard conferred a certificate to the Mount Vernon graduates and offered her congratulations to the students for their brilliance and hard work. Quantel Bazemore, a representative from the office of US Congressman Jamal Bowen, presented ELOC with a Proclamation and a certificate to all student sites involved in the program. Afterward, Keynote Speaker and Microsoft Corporate Executive Bruce Jackson addressed the graduates and spoke about the struggles and setbacks he experienced during his rise from circumstances not unlike their own.