Protecting What We Have, Growing What We Need: Pathways for Sustaining Alabama’s Environment for the Next Generation

The Problem

CASE is an all-volunteer youth-led network of student and community organizations united to promote and sustain statewide campaigns through the direct mobilization of students and citizens towards an environmentally clean, socially just, and energy independent future. CASE represents over 100 youth organizers from 10 student organizations across 8 university campuses statewide on issues of concern to Alabama’s youth environmental movement. This year, five of our organizations working at the four largest college campuses in Alabama (University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, University of Alabama at Birmingham, University of Alabama at Huntsville, and Auburn University) will be participating in CASE’s statewide “Sustainable Investment Project” to allocate a goal of 1 million dollars in public funds to campus “Green Funds” by February 2014. “Green Funds” would support new campus energy-independence and energy/water efficiency projects, as well as exploration into renewable energy technologies. Student groups at each campus will each be running concurrent campaigns to create new campus “Green Funds” at their individual campuses. At UAT and AU each, the goal is to allocate at least $350,000 in funds annually, while the goal of UAB and UAH is $150,000 each annually. “Green Fund”, a concept common at leading higher-education institutions nationwide, was implemented for the first time at any college in Alabama at the University of Montevallo (UM) in 2011. Since that time, the campus has allocated approximately $30,000 annually, or $10 per student, into on-campus, student-implemented renewable energy, water efficiency, and public transportation projects. The fund is primarily supported by a $5 per semester per student investment, with all funds available by request for student projects, and students possessing the majority vote on all major and minor funding decisions. By implementing this program modularly at 4 new Alabama universities, our students have the opportunity to bring a massive turnaround in investment for environmentally-sustainable infrastructure within Alabama. At UM, the Fund has already been used to support innovative projects centered on renewable energies, endangered wetland conservation, and large-scale preservation of natural forests on campus lands, among others. Throughout our campaign, by keeping our workshops completely open to the public, CASE will achieve its goal of educating the public through grassroots community organizing techniques, skills-sharing, and resource sharing. CASE will empower student youth leaders with the skills to educate campus and community decision-makers as per the value of sustainable planning and infrastructure that protects and preserves the environment. Finally, the campaign will establish a new and bold vision for the establishment of large-scale “Green Fund” campaigns in the South, charting a modular path for statewide sustainable infrastructure changes by student coalitions in surrounding states.

Plan of Action

All goals will be completed by April 31st, 2014. Objective: Enhance the success ratio and increase the outreach opportunities for the Sustainable Investment Campaign.* Strategy A: Ensure that all CASE member-groups and campuses currently participating in the Statewide Sustainable Investment Project have the skills and resources necessary to implement effective campaigns to establish Green Funds at their individual campuses. Activities: Conduct Campaign Development Workshops at each of the 4 universities participating in our Sustainable Investment Project, to ensure the success of the campaign to allocate $1 million in public funds to sustainable campus projects. All trainings would be done by certified CASE Trainers, and would have a consistent and comprehensive framework for successful completion, utilizing large- and small-group discussion, role-playing exercises, and real-life skill implementation exercises. Workshops would run in the following tiers, and would be utilized depending upon the current progress of each campus’ individual campaign: 101- Powermapping and Proposal Creation; 201- Meeting with Decision-Makers; 301- Petitioning and Social Media Outreach; 401- Leveraging Grassroots Support for Campaign Success. Goal: Conduct a minimum of 12 Campaign Development Workshops at the 4 CASE universities currently involved with campaign. Benchmark: CASE Sustainable Investment Campaign Coordinator and Public Relations Director will write and release multiple press advisories and releases for all trainings conducted, announcing sponsorship by DoSomething. All participants will complete post-training surveys to assess the strength and quality of the trainings, which will be submitted to DoSomething as requested. At minimum 2 CASE campuses establish a “Green Fund” by August 2013, remainder by March 2014. Strategy B: Ensure that local, state, and regional environmental communities are aware of current environmental progress in the Heart of Dixie, an area strategically important to the continued success and growth of the national environmental movement. Activities: CASE Social Media Coordinator will create blog entries on multiple social media websites highlighting progress of the youth environmental movement, including at minimum and the CASE blog. All blog entries will show the month’s new progress, and will be simultaneously released to all CASE local, regional, and national media contacts via editorial format. Goal: Release one blog entry per month, with a minimum of 12 total blog entries by February 2014. Benchmark: Measure success of social media outreach via monitored and recorded number of contacts made with CASE by new campaign supporters, collaborators. Strategy C: Ensure that the progressive goal of the campaign is recognized consistently in the local, regional, and national media. Activities: CASE PR Director, in accordance with Steering Committee Liaisons at each campus, Goal: Draft and release one press advisory/release on a weekly basis until May, then bi-weekly/monthly as needed until February 2014. Releases will demonstrate consistent and incremental progress of the campaign as it applies to campuses both individually and collectively. CASE maintains a Press contact sheet of over 600 media contacts, including all major and minor Alabama press contacts, all major national newspapers and networks, all major environmental organization staff (Sierra Club, NRDC, Greenpeace, etc.), and all statewide youth coalitions operating in the Southeast. Benchmark: Document and compile all press coverage, sharing with DoSomething on a bi-monthly basis. Strategy D: Ensure that other student groups at other Alabama universities and public schools, particularly historically black colleges/universities and other minority institutions, are able to join this campaign and grow the youth environmentalist base for their representative demographic and surrounding community. Activities: Conduct Campaign Kickstarter Workshops at historically black colleges and universities, such as Miles College (Birmingham), ASU (Montgomery), and Stillman (Tuscaloosa). Additionally, conduct workshops at Alabama high schools to explore expanding opportunities for Alabama’s next generation of youth environmentalists. These workshops will be hosted beginning August 2013, following the more time-sensitive Campaign Development Workshops. Goal: Conduct a minimum of 6 Campaign Kickstarter Workshops at 6 separate non-CASE institutions by Jan. 2014. Benchmark: CASE Sustainable Investment Campaign Coordinator and Public Relations Director will write and release multiple press advisories and releases for all trainings conducted, announcing sponsorship by the DoSomething. All participants will complete post-training surveys to assess the strength and quality of the trainings, which will be submitted to DoSomething as requested. At minimum 1 non-CASE campus establishes a “Green Fund” campaign by August 2013. At minimum 3 non-CASE campuses establish “Green Fund” campaigns by March 2014.

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