William Parish

Ashoka Fellow
New York City, New York, United States
Fellow Since 2007


This profile was prepared when William Parish was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2007.
The New Idea
Billy believes that the youth climate change movement will take off when students at universities across the country are equipped with the proper tools and resources to work on a common agenda. He recognized that while far more students were interested in addressing the climate crisis through their schools than through politics, most campus-based environmental groups were working in a disconnected way toward the same goals. Billy’s idea unites these disparate student groups into a single, coordinated effort that helps youth on each campus make their college a climate neutral model of sustainability. He organized a summit of seventeen organizations across the U.S. and Canada to form the Energy Action Coalition (EAC), a group that is leveraging the collective power of diverse partners to achieve a clean, efficient, just, and renewable energy future. 
Billy believes that young people can and must make building a green economy the unifying, defining issue of their generation. His goal is for EAC to engage people in practical, effective solutions to environmental challenges. In the process, the coalition will create a new generation of private, public, and citizen sector leaders. This student movement brings new vitality to the work of pioneering environmentalists via a hopeful, solutions-oriented and achievable agenda.   Billy saw that academic institutions could be a powerful intellectual and economic force. If institutions of higher education achieve climate neutrality, their collective impact will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Beyond that, their leadership will influence students, faculty, vendors, employees, corporations, and communities to adopt environmentally friendly practices. To move from climate harmful to climate neutral, for example, colleges will have to examine and consider changing almost every aspect of institutional operations. Billy believes this change will only occur if clean energy advocates speak in one voice, increase and sustain public pressure, achieve a supportive public policy framework, and offer practical solutions.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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