Youth-led climate projects are “chronically underfunded, undersupported, under-resourced, underestimated,” says this climate fund executive director

Kat Cadungog, executive director of the Foundation for Environmental Stewardship has a new vision for funding for climate action — by youth and for youth

Why It Matters

Less than 40 percent of youth-led climate organizations have paid staff, according to FES, even though 72 percent of Canadians agree with the demands of the youth-led climate movement. Climate will no doubt be a major issue in this federal election — with climate emergencies, from wildfires to flooding, spreading around the world — so support for those who will inherit the worst of climate change is pertinent.

Kat Cadungog never intended to become the executive director of the Foundation for Environmental Stewardship (FES). In fact, she was ready to help the organization close down. 

FES was meant to close in 2020 — it had never operated as a philanthropic foundation, and had been working on a four-year project that was wrapping up. Cadungog was in a different role, working on programming for university students, and when the pandemic hit, she took what she called a “covadical” to reflect on next steps for the organization and for herself. 

“When they asked me [to become executive director], I had a lot of hesitancy,” she says. “I don’t think things should exist just for the sake of existing.” But at the same time, major philanthropic organizations had begun reaching out to FES, offering support, and Cadungog decided she wanted to take on the challenge of ch

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