ECO Youth

ECO (Environmental Community Organizers) Youth is our grassroots after-school program designed to build leadership among teenage youth around pertinent environmental and social justice issues. Founded by graduates of our Community Environmental College in 2011, the program empowers students to combat all types of inequality, from racism and classism to the toxic pollutants and health hazards that disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color. These young activists are intent on ameliorating the unjust conditions that plague Providence.


Between 20-35 students make up the ECO Youth team each year. Youth members have raised awareness and comprehension of EJ issues in their community by:

  • Designing and giving multimedia presentations about food access, health inequality, asthma, and air pollution
  • Using the EcoBus to create temporary mobile classrooms and demonstrations in the Providence area
  • Working with the City of Providence to identify policy changes that will support healthy food retail city-wide
  • Spearheading the Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which sought to bring fresh, healthy food options to food deserts in the state
  • Joining protests and rallies that contest issues such as police brutality, corporate greed, and climate change
  • Serving as leaders in the communities they represent and live in

By becoming critical-thinking, active members of their communities, the young people engaged in EJLRI’s ECO Youth program are helping to build a more environmentally just Rhode Island. Since 2011, the group has reached over 1500 individuals through their various presentations and demonstrations.

“To me, EJ means understanding the harmful effects humans have on the environment and creating change to a…healthier and sustainable planet.”   -Abe Vargas

“Youth organizing is important because we are the leaders of the next generation and can teach our peers about what is going on and what we can do to fix the problems we are living with.”   -Seena Chhan

“A more environmentally just community is one where all peoples are treated equally but cherished differently for the skills and talents they offer to the society.”   -Yudiglenn Sena-Abreu

For more information about ECO Youth and its use of the EcoBus, check out this PressPassTV video:

Want to sign up? Have more questions? Contact Jesus Holguin, our Youth Leadership Director, at