Behind Greta Thunberg’s headline grabbing thunderstorm of the #YouthStrike4Climate and the Extinction Rebellion protests, there is a grassroots environmental youth movement tackling climate change and boosting young potential. Nearly 100,000 passionate, skilled and environmentally conscious young people are leading the way to a brighter future, through Our Bright Future, a programme funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.
Whilst the #YouthStrike4Climate has been effective at raising awareness of environmental challenges, the portfolio of 31 projects that form Our Bright Future, have quietly been making significant societal and environmental improvements, across the UK for the past four years.
Already young people have gained almost 4,000 environmental qualifications, started more than 200 entrepreneurial projects and improved or created over 1,500 community spaces.
Our Bright Future is a once in a generation level of investment (£33 million), aimed at bringing together the UK’s youth and environmental sectors to generate a youth movement to stand up for the environment. It is made possible by The National Lottery Fund, the UK’s largest funder of community activity.
One of the 31 Our Bright Future projects is the Green Academies Project (GAP). GAP is led by the National Trust and gives 11-24 year olds the opportunity to look after green spaces in their communities through weekly activities. This project runs in Birmingham, London, Greater Manchester, the North East of England and Wrexham, but there are Our Bright Future projects across the UK which are tackling a variety of environmental issues.
18 year old Ajai from GAP says, ‘The main difference is before [the project] I didn’t know what I could do to help the environment. Now I definitely know what I can do’ 
While the protests have stirred a sense of urgency for environmental action, it’s important to be encouraged by the action already taking by young people through Our Bright Future. 11-24 year olds are being given a seat at the table with key decision makers, contributing towards Government research, bringing local communities together and enhancing local green spaces for everyone.
Cath Hare, Our Bright Future Programme Manager said: ‘We’re giving young people a voice and the tools to make a difference in their local community, which is really inspiring for all ages. The £33 million investment, made possible thanks to National Lottery players, has been instrumental in supporting young people to connect, be empowered, develop new skills and improve their wellbeing. Enthusing young people about environmental issues now will lead to a lifelong passion for environmental improvements. I’m sure we will see many great things from Our Bright Future alumni’.
Peter Ainsworth, Chair of The National Lottery Community Fund, said: ‘It’s fantastic to see how young people across the UK have been motivated and encouraged by this project. Thanks to National Lottery players, nearly 100,000 young people have played an active role in shaping the future of their local environment. An investment like this is a great start to empowering and inspiring young people to help make their own futures brighter and their communities thrive.’