Y USA leads the way on climate action youth led solutions

Date: 21 May 2021

Y USA was at the forefront at the first global YMCA Youth-Led Solutions Summit in October 2020, which focused on the ways young people can take climate action to help the world reach UN Sustainable Development Goal by 2030.

Over 700 young leaders from 50 countries and six continents convened virtually, and developed 60 solutions to address the climate crisis through environmental education, advocacy and more.

Of those ‘Solutions Teams’, seven were from the US.  Their solutions covered a broad range of topics, including environmental education, vermicomposting, food rescue, and more. The Youth-Led Solutions Initiative put critical resources, including seed funding, into the hands of young Y changemakers who are developing innovative approaches to address global issues both at home and abroad.



  • 2,084 people impacted (children, young people, adults)
  • More than 20 community partners engaged
  • 7 Solution Teams: projects focused on Climate Action
  • 65 Solution Team Members
  • Launched a national awareness campaign that was picked up by over 130 local and national news outlets
  • 48 households Composting
  • Additional funding secured: $10,000
  • Recovered 6,000 lbs. of electronic waste
  • 3 projects focusing on eliminating food waste
  • Rescued & distributed a total amount of over 24,000 pounds of varieties of foods
  • Projects received some $74,000 in seed funding:


YMCA Solutions Teams were run by:

  • YMCA Honolulu – community education on existing resources, and making the disposal of e-waste more accessible
  • YMCA Greater Long Beach – reducing food waste and increasing food security
  • YMCA San Francisco – creating a Climate Justice Task Force to address and promote sustainability and equity within the YMCA, launch of zero net waste project
  • YMCA Ann Arbor (Michigan) with YMCA Albay (Philippines) – launch of C.A.R.E FOR CLIMATE (Cultivating Action through Responsible Education), a youth-driven climate leadership development program
  • YMCA Rockies (Colorado) – using reusable storage options for towels and linens to replace plastic wrapping
  • YMCA Sioux (South Dakota) – combating food waste in indigenous communities, and addressing food insecurity on the Cheyenne reservation
  • University YMCA (Illinois) – sustainable and accessible food waste disposal through “Vermicomposting at Home”


Snippets of the conversation

“One of the biggest lessons our team learned is that small changes can make a big impact.” YMCA Rockies Solution Team Member

Infographic created by YMCA of the Rockies Solutions Team to highlight their sustainability work. March 2021.

“There has been an incredible sense of power in discovering how a small idea shared between a group of passionate colleagues has evolved into an action.” YMCA San Francisco

“The YMCA should consider leveraging youth voice and leadership within their organizations. It would be beneficial for each board to include a youth-led sustainability committee to examine and implement a plan with a goal to help reach obtainable sustainability goals for that particular branch.” YMCA Honolulu

Read the full report – with full details and testimony from all seven projects, here.