Innevator Ciara Byrne of Green Our Planet Selected as a 2019 Obama Foundation Fellow

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The Obama Foundation Fellowship supports outstanding civic innovators—leaders who are working with their communities to create transformational change and addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems. The program selects 20 community-minded rising stars from around the world for a two-year, non-residential program, designed to amplify the impact of their work and inspire a wave of civic innovation.

The second-ever class of Obama Foundation Fellows represents a diverse set of leaders who all model a powerful truth: that each of us has a role to play in making our communities better. These Fellows are building cultures of entrepreneurship in neighborhoods that need it most. They’re protecting our environment and ensuring we can live sustainably for generations to come. They’re showing the world that criminal justice can be restorative justice. And they’re proving that our most disadvantaged and disconnected communities can also be our most vital and innovative.

ABOUT THE FELLOWSHIP

The two-year, non-residential Obama Fellowship offers hands-on training, resources, and leadership development to help Fellows scale the impact of their work. Fellows participate in four multi-day gatherings where they collaborate with each other, connect with potential partners, and collectively push their work forward. Throughout the program, each Fellow pursues a personalized plan to leverage the Fellowship experience to take their work to the next level. Obama Foundation Fellows are:

Civic innovators
Fellows are working alongside their communities to solve important public problems in creative and meaningful ways. Living out the Foundation’s values of Imagination and Fearlessness, Fellows are bringing bold ideas to bear on the most pressing problems we face. By engaging their communities in this work, they create stronger and more sustainable solutions.

Discipline diverse
As organizers, inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, and more, Fellows illustrate the power of drawing upon diverse talents and approaches to drive meaningful change. The Fellowship provides a space for leaders across disciplines to learn from one another, ultimately making their own work more impactful.

At a tipping point in their work
Fellows have already demonstrated direct and meaningful impact in their communities, gaining recognition among their peers for their contributions. Now, they stand at a breakthrough moment in their careers. They’re poised to use the Fellowship to significantly advance their work, perhaps by launching new platforms, expanding their footprint, establishing models that others can adopt, or shifting the national or global conversation on a topic.

Talented, but not connected
The Foundation is committed to expanding the circle of opportunity to include new and varied voices. The Fellowship is designed to support leaders who have not already benefited from prestigious opportunities or global attention. We’re excited to lift up civic innovators who are not currently connected to the networks and resources they need to advance their work.

Good humans
Fellows demonstrate the values of the Obama Foundation and are eager to participate in the Fellowship community now and in the future. By bringing strong personal values to the cohort, Fellows build an authentic, inclusive, and collaborative community that provides lasting value.

Ciara Byrne – Green Our Planet

Teaching students to grow school garden ecosystems in the Nevada desert.

Location:
Las Vegas, Nevada

Superpower:
Storytelling

Favorite book:
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael Singer

Challenge:
School gardens are often treated as nice bonus projects and limited to privileged, high-performing schools. But school gardens can be powerful learning environments where students engage in project-based learning about science, ecology, nutrition, and conservation – and reap the results of their teamwork in the form of fresh produce. Created within the school grounds, these natural environments can serve as powerful places of sanctuary and important tools for struggling schools and students.

Strategy:
Green Our Planet partners with schools to create school gardens and hydroponic farms across Clark County, the fifth largest and one of the lowest performing school districts in the country. Students become farm-preneurs, engaging with Green Our Planet’s outdoor and hydroponic curricula from kindergarten to fifth grade. The model engages the entire community in supporting students, from hiring local farmers to come and teach weekly environmental lessons, to bringing chefs to teach children culinary arts with the food they have grown, to partnering with bankers who help students build business plans for their farmers markets. By fifth grade, students are running the farmers markets themselves. Along the way, school gardens become areas of healing and reconnection to nature for students who are dealing with poverty, violence, and trauma. In more than 150 partner schools, Green Our Planet’s approach is reducing absenteeism and improving academic importance, setting kids on a path to success.

Greatest victory:
“On April 12, 2019, Green Our Planet hosted the largest student-run farmers market in America. Over 500 students from 49 schools came together to sell the vegetables and fruits they had grown in their school gardens. Although the market was large and loud, what the public didn’t see was all of the programming that underlaid the event: the funding and building of 165 school gardens, the creation of curricula and teacher trainings, students planting and maintaining crops, 100+ local bankers who taught the students financial literacy, and the support of countless donors. The market only occurred due to the efforts of thousands of students, teachers, administrators, community members, farmers and the Green Our Planet team working together. The largest student-run farmers market in America took an entire village to create.”

We encourage individuals from all backgrounds to apply for this opportunity.
The full list of Fellows can be found here.

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