Black Girl Environmentalist

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Wawa Gatheru

Founder and Executive Director


Joining the climate movement as a youth activist, Wawa Gatheru saw a lack of pathways and retention in the climate movement for Black girls, women, and gender-expansive people. In 2021, Wawa created Black Girl Environmentalist to tackle the issue head-on, creating a diverse pipeline of talent for the climate sector and helping youth unlock powerful skills and networks.


What will the Stanley Creators Fund grant make possible for Black Girl Environmentalist? 

Black Girl Environmentalist is in the midst of launching the Hazel M. Johnson Fellowship Program, an ambitious 10-week summer fellowship program that will help early-career Black women gain access to the green economy. Stanley’s funding will provide 10 Fellows with stipends for living and wellness-related expenses, to supplement competitive hourly pay provided by host organizations. This critical funding is breaking down the barriers that have for so long made the environmental field less accessible to early career people of color. 


Stanley Creators Fund celebrates the creators, builders, and inventors among us. What does it mean to you to be a creator, builder, and inventor? 

Being a creator and builder is breaking free from the status quo! As a young person, people might question my ability to run an organization or reduce my passion for making the environmental movement more inclusive as youthful optimism. I reject that. As a young woman of color, I believe in my ability to do these things because it has been done time and time again in history. This work is not an anomaly. It’s a part of my inheritance. Youth of color have always led movements and I am a part of that living history.  


What drives you? Or, said differently, what’s your “why?” 

In the face of the climate crisis, it is critical that all people have access to environmental decision-making tables. Historically, that has not been the case. Communities of color are disproportionately affected by climate justice issues and we are underrepresented in the very movement tasked with solving the climate crisis. I am motivated to help the next generation of climate leaders of color reach their full potential in climate leadership. Black Girl Environmentalist allows me to help make this happen. 


What is something you have discovered through your work?

One of my greatest takeaways is the realization that the climate crisis is not only an ecological crisis. It is also a crisis of narrative and connection. I believe that climate solutions must work to bring everyone into the conversation and build meaningful communities at the same time.


“Youth of color have always led movements and I am a part of that living history.”