Meet SAOLA Believer, Angelou Ezeilo. A self-described "change-maker and environmentalist," Angelou is the founder of Greening Youth Foundation
. We caught up with her to see what's new at GYF and how you can join her and #MAKANIMPACT. Find out more, below!
S: Angelou, who are you and where are you from?
A: I am Angelou Ezeilo, a change-maker and an environmentalist. I am a wife of 25 years, mother to two incredible sons and daughter to trailblazing parents. I am from Jersey City, New Jersey. What are you passionate about? I am passionate about the preservation of the planet for the next generation and ensuring that diverse youth and young adults have access to the environment for recreational purposes as well as for career pathways. I am also a lover of culture: ethnic dance, music, food- bring it all!
S: What is Greening Youth Foundation and why did you start the organization?
A: Greening Youth Foundation is an international environmental nonprofit organization that I founded 15 years ago. The impetus for GYF was seeing that there was no organization focused on connecting people of color to careers in the conservation field. I stumbled into the career and loved it; however, it was very lonely for me as a young African American female. There were so few people that looked like me.
S: What are the main initiatives of the foundation and what are your goals?
A: The main initiatives of the organization revolve around programming to provide access into a homogeneous field - primarily white and male. As such, our programs center around introducing diverse youth to environmental education and wellness, paid internships into the federal land management agencies as well as environmental NGOs and outdoor retail companies, providing 21st Century skills to young adults from disinvested Atlanta, and lastly establishing natural resource management programs in African countries.
S: What’s new at GYF right now?
A: Our latest exciting program is The Green Box. Due to Covid-19, our Forever Green Kids environmental program had to pivot to an online digital platform for students in grades 3-6. The program has been well received and we are looking forward to scaling this culturally relevant environmental program to underrepresented youth across the globe.
S: Any projects or initiatives that we/the general public can get involved in?
The Green Box is a great project for the general public to support. However, as we have many programs, it is best to connect with one that resonates with you. So check out our website at www.gyfoundation.org
and take your pick!
S: In light of current events, what can we regular people do to support our communities, planet, and the future of our country?
A: Vote for people that support environmental and social justice issues. Act on issues that are unsettling to you and don't let perfection be the enemy of good.
S: What are you most excited about for the summer at GYF and in your own life?
A: My husband and I are now true empty-nesters. Both boys are preparing to head back to college (God willing!) in the fall. Our youngest son is en route to Madrid, Spain to begin his college experience. Our oldest son is headed back to Howard University to begin his senior year. In a few months, it will just be me, my husband and our doggie, Chi Chi. May the chapter 2 journey begin!