Nonprofit student organization aims to empower grassroots climate initiatives
Two Yale and three Yale-NUS students create a new nonprofit organization that supports community-led climate action groups in Southeast Asia and Latin America.
Courtesy of GreenCheck
For an issue as large as climate change, there need to be ambitious organizations aiming to address it. This was the mentality embraced by the founders of GreenCheck, a climate action nonprofit organization created in 2020 by students at Yale and Yale-NUS.
GreenCheck’s founders — Ben Everett-Lane ’24, Josh Vogel ’22, Beatrice Baquero-Salah, Yale-NUS class of 2022, Beverley Choo, Yale-NUS class of 2022, and Shikhar Agarwal, Yale-NUS class of 2021 — wanted to create an easier way for people concerned about the climate to engage in climate action. GreenCheck works to partner donors with climate action groups in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Though created last semester, the organization hopes to officially launch its website by the end of the month.
“This is definitely not your normal donation platform,” GreenCheck donor relations lead Everett-Lane said. “It evolved into trying to create a global community of climate-concerned individuals trying to help each other in a mutually beneficial relationship.”
According to the founders, despite the many philanthropic organizations striving to help disadvantaged communities with climate change action, not enough is being done. Technology lead Vogel shared that what makes GreenCheck unique among other philanthropic organizations is the operative word “partner.” Part of the founders’ desire to create the organization arose from the lack of direct connection similar organizations have with their partner groups, which can lead to a misunderstanding of a community’s needs. GreenCheck was created to make sure donors can connect with partner organizations and communities and accurately address their needs, Vogel said.
“The reason I really liked this idea was because it gave people [donors] an ability to directly connect with a community that is facing these issues, and be able to learn personally how those problems should be fixed and how those communities are being harmed, and allow [donors] to become more climate literate,” Everett-Lane said.
Southeast Asian and Latin American communities are experiencing some of the worst consequences of climate change but are not contributing significantly to the increase in global emissions, Everett-Lane said. One of GreenCheck’s main goals is to enforce equity and decolonization in its climate activism and philanthropy. Through its online platforms, GreenCheck allows donors to better understand how climate change directly impacts the people who need assistance and to create a long-term dialogue with those communities, bridging the elusive gap between philanthropic efforts and impact.
“We want to put the power back in the hands of these communities and make sure that climate action, as with many other social and environmental issues, is for these people and by these people,” operations lead Choo said.
According to Vogel, GreenCheck does not have a specific goal for donations but rather aims to empower the groups it is trying to support. Vogel explained that the group trusts the nonprofit on the ground to do what it needs with donations and that GreenCheck’s “metric of success is however [the communities] need to use [the money].”
GreenCheck’s website will contain a list of its partner organizations, to which donors can specifically donate. Unlike many other nonprofits, GreenCheck will consistently update donors and potentially even help them directly communicate with the affected community and the partner organization itself. Donations can start as a one-time event and turn into continuous interest and involvement with the project, Vogel said.
Ayesha Syed, Yale-NUS class of 2024, a volunteer working with the group to help develop its graphic designs, said that she joined the project “after coming to the realization that climate action efforts by world leaders are simply not enough. We as individuals need to unite and work towards a better world. GreenCheck was the perfect opportunity for me as it introduced me to people who shared the same concerns about climate change.”
Eda Aker | firstname.lastname@example.org
Clarification, Feb. 9: An earlier version of this story introduced the founding students as five Yale students in the subheadline. The story has been updated to reflect that three of them attend Yale-NUS.