Growing up, Alexia Leclercq, 21, saw that climate change was framed as a future crisis instead of a present issue disproportionately impacting communities of color. So in 2019, they co-founded Start:Empowerment (S:E), an environmental justice nonprofit focused on bridging the gap between education and action. S:E collaborates with activists, educators, and community members to create spaces for environmental justice education and action. The group staunchly supports the principles of abolition, transformative justice, and mutual aid.
S:E has grown to reach over 500 students across five schools, and members have worked with teachers to implement lessons and to support student-led environmental and food justice clubs. Additionally S:E created a micro-grants program to support youth pursuing community-based projects addressing various justice issues.