There is a popular expression in the social change world, “Nothing About Us Without Us.” It’s meant to emphasize that change efforts should always directly involve the people affected, rather than being on their behalf.

At Coffee Kids, we take that principle seriously. We work with young farmers, rather than for young farmers. We empower them to create new opportunities for themselves and to address the challenges their communities face, rather than dictating to them what change should look like.

This is why organizations such as the Global Shapers Community are beneficial; they describe themselves as “a network of young people driving dialogue, action and change.” Their Global Shapers Survey, an annual survey of 18-35-year-olds, gives critical insights into the thinking of the young people we work with and their peers across the globe. Coffee Kids is already speaking directly with our youth participants about what matters to them, but this report gives us another perspective.

In the most recent report, climate change ranked at the top of their concerns. This isn’t surprising, considering that it affects nearly every aspect of our lives. But it was also an important reminder of why we continue to increase our work around adapting to climate change, in large part in response to the feedback of Coffee Kids participants.

Previous generations had a “wait and see” approach; they put off responding to climate change because it seemed theoretical or unreal. For today’s young farmers, it is real, and it is urgent. Previous generations believed that responding to climate change meant closing off economic opportunities; however, today’s youth (and the rising generations in every industry!) know that responding to climate change is a path to long-term security, increased yields, and the ability to hand off farms to their children.

Responding to climate change in their communities also makes participants in Coffee Kids part of a global movement. It connects them to the Sunrise Movement, YouthActionNet, 2050 Climate Group, and many other youth-led groups that are taking matters into their own hands. That’s not just good for the earth; it’s good for communities because it means that young people are eager to become leaders on a wide range of issues.

With promising outcomes of not only our project work but the validation of the mentioned organizations that youth are becoming informed and taking action, it is our duty as a society to continue providing the necessary trainings, knowledge, and opportunities for youth to succeed and make a difference. This goes back to one of our core principles mentioned at the beginning of this story, change efforts directly involve those they affect rather than doing it on their behalf. You can be a part of that change that is needed by supporting Coffee Kids, it takes just a minute, and you know that 100% of your contributions go directly to the projects enabling change.

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