WHO WE ARE
The Virginia Student Environmental Coalition (VSEC) was founded in 2013 by a group of student leaders from universities across our state. In the first two years, VSEC functioned as a round-table of campus leaders doing different kinds of university projects, which convened two large “Virginia Powershift” conferences of over 400 young people. Our primary activity was getting young people in the room together and mobilizing young people to events events, such as getting 300 young people from Virginia to the People’s Climate March in New York in 2014 (and later D.C. in 2017).
In 2015, we began to initiate campaigns of our own. Through VSEC many of these campus leaders began to run coordinated fossil fuel divestment campaigns at six universities, including the University of Mary Washington, which became the first public university in the South to commit to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Through our campaigns at the university, we also learned that acting at the scale of the climate crisis meant getting beyond the university campus. In 2016 we ran a statewide campaign to push our political leaders on their positions on climate change and to register young people to vote. In the summer of 2015, we organized a cross-state cycling tour to connect with communities along the route of a proposed fracked gas pipeline. We have been working since their announcement to resist two natural gas pipelines in Virginia -- the Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP) and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP). VSEC was present for the announcement of both the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines, and has since maintained a leading role in the resistance to these projects.
WHAT WE DO
We build strong communities of young people in six major cities (and growing!) through shared action and education. We take responsibility for the generation of young people in Virginia who are simultaneously growing up in the first storms of climate climate change and have the ability to create a political force capable of stopping it. We work to support young people in regions across Virginia to speak to the unique challenges and impacts we face -- from extraction in Appalachia to rising tides on the coast. We welcoming young people into taking action for the first time, whether during a class on campus, sitting at a coffee-shop, or talking on the street. Through trainings, workshops, and statewide convergences, we support new leadership and participation in the fight against climate change.
We have developed programs to educate and incorporate new young people eager to work with us, and to ensure that our leadership is dynamic and diverse. Our main programs include the Volunteer Organizing Program, which encompasses and guides the work of year-round, full-time organizers; and the Summer Organizing Program, which opens our political education, philosophy of collective living, and our action to students who are unable to commit full-time during the year. Our Movement Training Program ensures new skills and curriculum is being passed on and dispersed throughout our network. Our trainings and our resources are routinely updated, incorporating feedback, and equipping new leaders with the skills to pass on information. See the Programs tab for more information.