This Gen Z Atlanta Climate Advocate Scored $20,000 In Funding

Girl+ Environment Founder Diamond Spratling chats with GU about the importance of environmental justice.

Social media teaches us more about global warming and climate change daily. Whether you’re well-rounded in the topic or not, there’s no denying that winters have gotten warmer and summers have gotten hotter. One Gen Z advocate, Diamond Spratling, is working to increase education and awareness within the Atlanta space by cultivating a community under her brand, Girl+ Environment

In 2019, Spratling noticed a major oversight while studying environmental policies. A few Black women were in the space, and she asked herself, “Why weren’t we in these rooms?” She shared her frustrations with her family and social media. Still, she was met with confusion and little engagement. One family member stated that discussing climate change and the environment isn’t typically a dinner conversation. However, Spratling disagrees. 

“Our environment has everything to do with the food on our plates, whether we have access to different things, and resources and even jobs,” Spratling says. “This is an issue that people like us have historically not been engaged in or felt welcome into those spaces and society. I wanted to better educate, engage, and, most importantly, empower more Black and Brown women and non-binary individuals to be a part of those equitable solutions because we have so much to give.”

The momentum sparked her to cultivate Girl+ Environment, a nonprofit organization that shares resources and tools to educate and empower advocacy for climate and environmental justice. This propelled Spratling to launch its annual Protecting Our Energy initiative, training a cohort of 50 Black and Brown women to engage in energy policy. In developing their research, the team concluded that Black and Brown households were overpaying 18 percent on energy bills, significantly higher than their white counterparts. Protecting Your Energy has had two successful cohorts, and it is gearing up for its third. 

“We teach them to understand energy justice, clean energy, energy burden, and what it has to do with their health and wellbeing or even economic outcomes,” Spratling tells GU. “We help them to submit public comments, show up to public hearings, and talk to their people in their communities or neighborhoods about energy justice, too.”

The latest achievement for Spratling and Girl+ Environment is one of 5 being awarded a $20,000 grant from Tom’s Of Mane second year Incubator Program, which helps scale their impactful work and provide climate resources to bring their innovative solutions to life. As a new member, Spratling will gain exclusive access to a network of expert mentors, opportunities for collaboration, both in-person and virtually, and significant backing from Tom’s of Maine to amplify their message and increase engagement with their environmental initiatives.

“It feels amazing, honestly, I’m still kind of star-struck about it,” Spratlings says. “I was originally going to apply the year before for the first incubator, but I didn’t get a chance to submit my application. This year I told myself, ‘there’s no excuses and surprisingly, I ended up getting it.”

Check out Spratling’s thoughts on climate MythBusters and what we can expect from her with the Tom’s of Maine Incubator Program. 

Girls United: The $20,000 grant will greatly help the Girl+ Environment mission. How do you plan to utilize the funds for the nonprofit? 

Spratling: I’m excited to be able to continue building out our organization and scaling up strategically. We’ve been around for five years, but when you’re busy with your head down doing all the work, it’s very difficult to pull yourself out and talk about all the amazing things that you’ve been doing, really focusing on the communications and the promotional side of things so that more funders and additional communities know about the work that you’re doing. I’ll be working with my mentor Dillon St. Bernard, who is a beast in communications, especially around social justice, so I would like to be able to work with him to figure out how to share my message with the world. How do I talk about these topics that are so interesting to me in a way to promote other people to take action as well?

GU: When it comes to the environment, what are some MythBusters you can educate us on?

Spratling: Everyone thinks that anyone in the environmental sector is just a bunch of tree huggers, right? Do we love the environment? Do we love the trees? Yes, absolutely. However, the environmental sector is more than the earth. It’s more than the plants, polar bears, and everything we discussed historically. Those concepts and topics have deterred people from entering the gate and engaging in the sector. Environmentalism means the people in the planet ensuring the people have access to healthy, safe clean water. The fact that people have sidewalks to access a grocery store or farmer’s market. It’s about our social environment and what we normally think about when we talk about our environmental issues.

GU: What can we expect from Girl+ Environment in 2024?

Spratling: We’ve got a lot of cool things going. We recently launched our GPE Community Hub, a free tool for Black and Brown women to find access to jobs, funding opportunities, upcoming events, and a community of other people who look like them and are interested in wanting to get into the space. You don’t have to already be in the environmental space to be a part of our hub. We wanted to develop a safer space for anyone to enter a sector in which we historically haven’t played a huge role.

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