Gen Z Climate Activists to Watch, per Tom’s of Maine’s New Program

Gen Z environmental leaders are getting their shot at change in a new incubator from Tom’s of Maine unveiled Wednesday.

Like Patagonia, the B Corp has been a corporate sustainability leader since the ’70s (although in the personal care space), and its latest endeavor preserves its giveback status.

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Five young entrepreneurs were selected for their ongoing work in creating equity in the outdoors, be it elevating Black women in sustainability, initiating climate change hackathons for forest conservation or establishing green spaces on historically Black college and university (HBCU) campuses.

“The Tom’s of Maine Incubator was created to elevate the next generation of BIPOC climate leaders who are rarely reflected or engaged in finding climate change solutions. Each of our winners has already accomplished so much, and we are honored to work with them toward even more impact,” said Cristiane Martini, general manager at Tom’s of Maine, in a statement. “With the additional funding and mentorship our incubator provides, Tom’s of Maine looks forward to helping our incubator members drive environmental solutions and empower others to make a positive impact.”

Each inaugural member is awarded $20,000 and will receive a host of mentoring opportunities over the program’s run of seven months. Winners include Aliyah Collins (a masters student at Harvard University and grassroots community organizer); Wawa Gatheru (founder of Black Girl Environmentalist); Alexia Leclercq (cofounder of the Colorado River Conservancy and Start:Empowerment); Bodhi Patil (a U.N. recognized ocean activist), and Sanjana Paul (cofounder of The Earth Hacks Foundation). The members are from all over the U.S., including Texas, Connecticut, Virginia and Massachusetts.

The members will participate in virtual workshops, trainings, as well as one-on-one meetings with their mentors to continue collaboration and amplification efforts. Incubator members are also invited to the Tom’s of Maine incubator in-person summit in Kennebunk, Maine, this spring.

As with the Gen Z prize winners, there are also a handful of young mentors on the mentorship board. The full list includes Ciara Imani May, chief executive officer and founder of Rebundle (eco-hair extensions); Kristy Drutman, climate activist and cofounder of Green Jobs Board; Lizzie Horvitz, CEO and founder of Finch (a consumer ratings platform); Isaias Hernandez, educator and creator of QueerBrownVegan, and Michelle Theodat Waring, sustainability steward at Tom’s of Maine.

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