From Our Fellows: Meet Josie, Founder of Black Students Demanding Change!

Today we're giving a shoutout to the amazing Josie Helm, who we are grateful to work with at Our Climate and beyond.

Josie is a New York City high school student and a long-time gardener and composter. She has always cared about climate change but was able to dive more deeply into climate activism this spring as a Field Rep. She is continuing this summer as a Fellow. Through introductory lobby training with Our Climate, she acquired foundational skills and policy knowledge which she has applied to her work with the New Jersey Student Climate Advocates, a group of young people working to pass a bill for an equitable state-wide carbon tax. 

As a Field Rep, she co-launched Our Climate NY’s Instagram platform, met with an elected official, learned about policy, and wrote her first op-ed. This summer as a Fellow, she worked to help further incorporate environmental justice into OC’s policy principles, joined NY Renew’s Youth Committee, and dove further into political strategies to curb climate change.

But not only is Josie a rockstar in our organization -- she also has founded and serves as the Executive Director of her own organization, Black Students Demanding Change. To learn more about the amazing strides this youth-led group is making, follow them on Instagram at @bsdcny and read Josie's letter below. We're so proud of you, Josie! 

"My name is Josie, and I am the founder and executive director of Black Students Demanding Change. Recognizing common themes of racial inequity that have existed for far too long across New York City high schools, nearly 40 students have joined this movement to demand meaningful reform. Our mission is as follows:

BSDC is dedicated to fostering a centralized community space where black students feel heard, supported, and celebrated. We work to implement racially equitable reform in private schools across New York City by serving as an intermediary between black students and our administrations. Our platform amplifies the voices of our peers by translating concerns and ideas into actionable steps to make our institutions actively anti-racist and authentically inclusive, thus improving the educational experience for all students. We aim to work in concert with our administrations to implement changes, ensuring accountability and transparency along the way.

I have been passionate about social justice for as long as I can remember. Recently, through my work with Black Students Demanding Chance and Our Climate, which equips young people with tools to demand equitable climate legislation, I have become increasingly proud of my generation, Gen Z. From demanding racial justice in our schools to working to save the planet through climate legislation, I am confident that our fierce advocacy for equity and justice will truly make the world a better place."

To support Black Students Demanding Change, please consider making a contribution to their fundraiser here. The organization can also be found on Instagram at @BSDCNY and at their website here. 

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