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Joshua Amponsem: Funding youth climate justice work


In this episode we talk to Joshua Amponsem, co-founder and Strategy Director of the Youth Climate Justice Fund, a newly-formed organisation that aims to support youth-led climate movements with trust-based funding, resources and youth-to-youth development.

We discuss:

  • How did YCJF come about? What is the organisation’s mission and what does it aim to do?
  • Why is so little philanthropy currently aimed at climate issues? Why is only a tiny fraction of that funding aimed at youth-led climate justice? (Despite the obvious success of youth climate leaders in putting these issues on the agenda).
  • Do we need to stop seeing climate as a “cause area” and see it instead as a cross-cutting issue that affects all funders and civil society orgs?
  • What do youth-led climate movements need apart from money? (e.g. leadership training & support, physical protection).
  • Youth climate movements and activists are often using tactics that traditional nonprofits would shy away from, such as direct action or strategic litigation. Does this present a challenge or an opportunity when it comes to convincing funders to support them?
  • Is the goal of YCJF to reduce the risk for funders of supporting youth-led climate movements and activists, or to get funders to accept and be comfortable with those risks?
  • Is there a danger that even well-intentioned funders inadvertently skew the direction of movements by virtue of the choices they make about what to fund and what not to fund? How can we avoid this risk?
  • How can we ensure that power and decision making within philanthropy is shifted towards the people and communities who would have been seen as the traditional ‘beneficiaries’? Why is this particularly important for youth-led movements?
  • How is YCJF using participatory methods in its decision-making? What are the strengths of doing so? (And does it also bring challenges?)
  • Do we need to measure impact in social change or social justice philanthropy? If so, how can we do it in a way that helps rather than harms grantees?
  • Are there some sources of funding that present particular practical and ethical challenges for climate movements (e.g. money from the fossil fuel industry etc). Is it possible for movements to accept money from these sources without damaging their own legitimacy? If so, what does this require?

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