Inspiring Teen CEO Vies For $250K Grant

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Earlier this year, Earth911.com profiled Charles Orgbon, a remarkable teen who, at just 15 years old, runs his own full-fledged environmental advocacy group called Greening Forward. Next month, Greening Forward will be in the running for a $250,000 grant from the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Fifteen-year-old Charles Orgbon and his organization, Greening Forward, work to better the local community through green projects. Photo: Greening Forward via Facebook

Greening Forward works to promote environmental awareness and help young people take action on environmental issues. It began as a website called Recycling Education, but the name changed to reflect the holistic nature of the site and the organization’s mission.

Greening Forward supports youth groups in two local public schools and helps disseminate educational materials to more schools nearby. Student projects have included beautification efforts in nearby neighborhoods, a mail-in recycling program and a celebration of America Recycles Day. But Orgbon believes the organization could be even bigger.

“With this grant, we could do so much more,” Orgbon says. “The grant changes everything!”

Funding from the Pepsi Refresh Project would allow Greening Forward to run more youth service events, and to open more chapters of its student group, the Earth Savers Club.

Greening Forward would also use the money to expand its work in low-income communities, something, Orgbon says has always been one of the organization’s long-term goals. Potential projects include beautifying run-down neighborhoods, promoting weatherization and helping nonprofits and small businesses finance recycling programs.

It’s an ambitious project, and Greening Forward faces stiff competition. Past winners in the same grant bracket include Teach for America and the American Legion.

Orgbon has been working tirelessly to raise awareness, and he’s a busy guy. He writes a column for a local newspaper, serves on the board of multiple service learning organizations, and still has to finish his homework. As a student at the largest high school in Georgia, Orgbon says he is still figuring out how to find his place. He is, after all, only in ninth grade.

Starting Dec. 1, you can vote for Greening Forward on the Pepsi Refresh Project’s website. But you can show your support for Orgbon and his efforts today on Greening Forward’s Facebook page.

The Pepsi Refresh Project is part of the Refresh Everything Initiative, which PepsiCo launched in 2009. By the end of the year, the Pepsi Refresh Project aims to have awarded more than $20 million dollars to community service projects across the United States. Any organization or individual with a service idea can sign up to compete, and winners are determined by online votes.

Grant categories include Arts and Culture, Food and Shelter, the Planet, Neighborhoods and Education. So far, grant winners have included a wind turbine installation in Iowa, a wildlife rehabilitation center in Wisconsin and a cell phone recycling program in California.

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