A 501(c)3, Merlyn Climate Grants supports young people ages 13 to 30 who take the lead in bringing the public's attention to the climate challenge. Grant recipients live in New England and New York.
Merlyn Climate Grants looks for projects most likely to educate and rouse others to help solve the climate challenge. We want the youth projects we fund to inspire more youth projects, helping create a legion of young climate champions across New York and New England. We identify young leaders who educate and encourage others, particularly peers and political and business leaders, to take up the climate fight. Our grantees inspire in two ways: they create positive new climate-solution projects, sparking others to create their own; and they lead their peers in pushing for urgent climate policy in local and national arenas.
For example, Merlyn grantees funded in 2019-2021 are helping turn No votes on climate into Yes votes in the RI statehouse. They’re training volunteers for public speaking on climate. They’re launching composting and kelp farms and studying rivers, where they bring schoolchildren onsite for inspiration and instruction. They are launching Climate Courage workshops and producing podcasts that inspire emerging climate leaders. They are planting trees and publishing. One 14-year-old learned the tools of print production to produce a magazine featuring area leaders speaking out on the climate challenge.
For more information, contact Grants@MerlynsPen.org, or call 401-751-3766.
The Merlyn Education and Climate Protection Project
Merlyn Climate Grants is the working title of the nonprofit corporation Merlyn Education and Climate Protection Project, designated as a public charity under the Internal Revenue Code section 501 (c) (3). ID 001696690. EIN 84-2006329. Donations to support the work of Merlyn Climate Grants are tax deductible.
LANGSTON HUGHES WAS 16
By Jim Stahl, President of Merlyn Climate Grants (2019) and founding editor of Merlyn's Pen magazine (1985)
This essay first aired on the public radio program THIS I BELIEVE, a production of National Public Radio affiliate WRNI, in Rhode Island.
The week of my Bar Mitzvah, a bomb-making prank (my idea) took my left eye. Until that moment, I was seeing the world as a 13-year-old boy sees it. A second later, I wasn’t. What I believe about kids' creativity, and the career I made of it, very likely began in that moment.
I published writers, some of them famous now, when they still had curfews. They would mail me their folded thoughts about growing up, the trials of school, the death of a pet, the birth of a little brother. Most submissions I had to reject, but published or not each one received a personal response from my talented staff or from me. From our Main Street office in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, we published the best submissions in a magazine, Merlyn's Pen, that we shipped all across the world. My experience taught me to listen to young people.
Publishing young writers sent a message of hope to creative kids who felt their talents were trivial or unwanted. Their creativity mattered to me. Even the briefest submissions could floor me. One 8th grader, for instance, wrote a poem called “Religion.” “On the sixth day,” it said, “He got up/and sprayed people /from an aerosol can /and then /God threw away /the exhausted container.”
Such provocation in seven lines! Is creating humanity as casual as spraying air freshener in a guest room? Does that “exhausted container” mean that the creative act fatigues even all-powerful God? In hundreds of classrooms that read this poem, discussions took off -- all of them launched by the measured words of one creative teen!
Publishing kids, I saw that the brightest ones teach their peers and their teachers. That’s why I believe in urging more teen involvement in our civic and volunteer organizations, in our schools, places of worship, and government. We need the brightest ideas from kids, their originality, their view of the world, and their view of us -- the adults in charge.
Creative teens have already shaped Western culture. Writers who helped define the American character -- Edgar Allan Poe, Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes among them – were publishing as teens. A young Mozart composed melodies we still hum today. When Frankenstein took his first arthritic step into our imaginations, how old was his creator, Mary Shelley? About 16.
So how much higher could America soar if input from creative kids was built into the plan? I believe much higher.
Maybe schools can take the first step. They can become places where innovative, creative kids feel as safe, as wanted, and as celebrated as their home-run hitting, touchdown-scoring peers in athletics. Independent schools have the liberty to lead the way. Others may follow.
I believe in getting creative kids to the table now to solve our biggest problems. We can use the help!