Charles Orgbon: Greening Forward
In sixth grade, an environmentally conscious Charles Orgbon had a simple vision, to have an opportunity to share ideas with like-minded young people. Today his vision to connect young people has grown in to Greening Forward, a nonprofit organization which currently partners with over 50 different environmental action groups.
Charles is the founder and director of Greening Forward, an organization that was conceived by youth, constructed by youth, and continues to be run exclusively by young people. Since 2008 Greening Forward has raised $90,000 with nearly 90% of those funds being redistributed to youth-led environmental projects in communities across the U.S. These projects are focused on improving environmental health and awareness in local communities and include community clean-up events, rain garden and other stormwater mitigation installations, advocacy campaigns that reduce the prevalence of single use plastics, and many other youth-led initiatives. Their website houses over 120 resources that were all created by youth, for youth, which Charles believes is part of what makes Greening Forward special. In 2013 they hosted the inaugural International Young Environmentalists Youth Summit with more than 100 attendees participating in youth run sessions that supported everything from water quality testing to designing comic strips to engage audiences in advocacy campaigns to social media and digital communication. In the spirit of Greening Forward, the conference was, and continues to be, entirely youth lead, bringing together hard-working young people from across the country.
While Greening Forward is a diverse and ever-changing network of young people, it all began with a single purpose, to empower young people to turn their ideas into action. Charles began in middle school as a community organizer at Chas Catholic School in Florence, S.C. There he began what would be the first Earth Saver’s Club and began to tap into a larger network of environmentally conscious youth by reaching out to Earth Force, a national non-profit. He carried his Earth Saver’s Club format with him to Sweetwater Middle School where he found a life long mentor in Ms. Kramer who sponsored the club. Greening Forward grew as a way to connect Earth Savers at schools across the region. During this same time, Charles was invited to join Earth Force Board of Directors and continued to network with new mentors to direct the power of the Earth Saver’s Clubs into a nationwide movement.
When asked about the organization, Charles simply says that Greening Forward has given him the opportunity to experience things he would never have experienced and solve challenges he would never have faced if not for Greening Forward. Charles wants to impact the people that are around him in a positive way and “add more than he takes” from our planet. Greening Forward has not only given him that opportunity, but the chance to help thousands of other young people build more than 200 rain barrels, plant over 700 native plants, and monitor 12 different waterways across the country!
To learn more about Greening Forward adn explore their resources, visit their website: http://greeningforward.org/