Start: Empowerment is a project seeking to revolutionize education and prepare students to become change makers by infusing environmental justice concepts inside the classroom.
In order to break cycles of injustice, we aim to collaborate and consult with activists, educators, and other local entities via the development of (social and) environmental justice curriculums and community projects.
Our start was the result of our two co-founders visions to empower youth today in order to become the change agents of tomorrow.
Alexia Leclercq (She/They) is one of the Co-Founders of Start:Empowerment (S:E).
They handle S:E's internal affairs: our curriculum management, grant program, and communications with all current school and community partners.
A graduate of NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Studies ('20), their concentration, titled 'The Politics and Economics of Inequality' combines the traditional fields of politics, environmental studies, and economics to understand the lasting effects of colonialism and perpetuation of structural oppression.
Because of their personal experience of the climate crisis, and through her time working at PODER, environmental justice non-profit in Austin, she was inspired to take action and create a better world through politics, community organizing, and improving education systems.
When they aren't working with PODER, they are most likely focusing on fostering kittens (@little.foster.family), helping out and riding at their local therapeutic riding center, spamming our Slack channel with cute animal pics, drawing sunrises and sunsets, or tree climbing.
Kiersten Blake (She/They) is the other Co-founder of Start:Empowerment (S:E).
They handle S:E's external affairs: our representation on the Climate & Resilience Education Task Force (CRETF), management of written, digital, and social media production, and establishment of new community partnerships.
A graduate of NYU ('20), they studied International Organizational Development & Management and have worked on and lead multiple organizational sustainability, human rights advocacy, and educational policy projects and initiatives across five countries and on three separate continents.
Because of their love of public service and social-environmental resiliency, as an Urban Fellow they contribute to the welfare of historically marginalized peoples for the city of NY.
When they aren't fulfilling their Fellowship duties, they are most likely engaging in policy work, snacking on dark chocolate, practicing their shadow boxing technique and/or vinyasa yoga, dog watching, or exploring new things to do in NYC.
Our work is a part of a team effort.
We are fueled by a collective of 8 individuals who help us execute our mission.
"Grassroots groups challenge the 'business-as-usual" environmentalism that is generally practiced by the more privileged wildlife- and conservation-oriented groups. The focus of activists of color and their constituents reflects their life experiences of social, economic, and political disenfranchisement"