Volunteer Spotlight: Franklin Wu
By Kiran Garewal
Franklin Wu is a rising freshman at Lamar High School in Houston, Texas and a four-year long member of the Houston Central CCL chapter. For the last five years, Franklin has been a co-coordinator of CCL’s national youth action team, striving to create a home for youth under 18 within our largely adult organization. Franklin and his team help support youth to be active and engaged in CCL, hosting monthly calls and actions specifically aimed at getting young people to use their voices to further climate action in all five levers.
Most recently, Franklin and the national youth action team put on a 100-day endorsement challenge through which youth from around the country worked together to gather 60 endorsements for HR 2307. Over the next few years as a national youth action team co-coordinator, Franklin plans to make the team even more effective by better accommodating youth with busy school and extracurricular schedules and helping Youth Action Team (YAT) members work closer with the adults in their local chapters.
How did you first get involved with CCL?
I live on the Gulf Coast so there’s no escaping the impact of the increased frequency and intensity of tropical systems in my community. Hurricane Harvey was the third 500-year flood that hit Houston in 3 years. I know many Houstonians that lost their cars and houses to the flood waters, which have been magnified by climate change. Seeing my community hurt by these preventable disasters and the grave implications for my future spurred me to act. I wanted to find a way to get involved in the climate movement; however, it was difficult to connect with organizations as a middle school student (this was years before COVID, before everyone developed more robust virtual meeting opportunities.) So, when I heard about CCL through a family member, I knew I had to check it out. My first interaction with CCL was at a local chapter meeting in Houston. I learned more about the organization and became more interested as I learned about CCL’s methodology and the organization’s focus on policy. I started out by attending the monthly meetings, and eventually got more involved with local initiatives and events. In high school, I got more involved at the national level and became a Youth Action Team Leader.
What has been your favorite experience during your time as a CCL volunteer?
My favorite experience as a CCL volunteer was attending the November Conference and Lobby Day. I met a wide array of different people from all around the country and heard from amazing speakers during the conference portion of the event. I was also able to meet up with many of my colleagues from the Youth Action Team, which was exciting since I never had an opportunity to see many of these volunteers in person.
I’ll never forget walking down the halls of Capitol Hill to lobby my elected officials. It was thrilling to rush across different buildings within the complex to make it to my next meeting and take breaks in the cafeteria, which was packed with other lobbyists and congresspeople.
Franklin Wu in front of Capitol Hill on Lobby Day.
As a co-coordinator of the national youth action team, what challenges have you faced in increasing the involvement and recognition of youth in CCL?
A challenge that I’ve faced in increasing youth involvement and recognition within our organization was finding ways to increase access and involvement for new youth members that joined our organization. CCL offers tons of materials and resources to educate our members and ensure success in our endeavors. However, for many youth that have just become involved with the climate movement, it can be intimidating to be the one young person in a room full of adults. I recognized that this may be a concern with new youth members so I worked with the YAT to create a youth webpage, which consolidates all of our materials and can help youth locate a local team of young volunteers in their area. It was launched earlier this year and we are very happy with our progress. It’s been exciting to be able to connect youth from all over and to be able to form a support network so that we can increase youth presence and involvement locally and beyond.
If you could give a fellow young person in CCL one piece of advice, what would it be?
If I could give a young person in CCL one piece of advice, it would be that their work is truly making a difference in our world. Even if you’re not able to accomplish your goal on the first day, every meeting and every little thing you do matters. All of these little things eventually build up and will reward you in the end. In CCL, we value relationships. Relationships aren’t built all at once; rather, they’re built from the bottom up–one brick at a time. I would tell every young person in CCL to stop every once in a while and step back, so you can admire the change that you’ve accomplished.
What keeps you motivated to do this work?
Although we may not be successful in everything we try, CCL is good at finding ways to celebrate even the smallest of successes. Even though it may seem minor, it’s inspiring to feel gratification for your hard work and the change you’ve made. Within the realm of youth advocacy, it’s always great to see familiar faces that we’ve trained and helped support in their work. The amazing work that youth have accomplished is a testament to their hard work and the support of fellow CCLers. We don’t really have the luxury of time. Hearing reports on a daily basis relating the devastation that climate change continues to pose to our society can feel both motivating and crippling; the impacts are being felt right now and the need to take mitigating measures is immediate. In any given week, we can find plenty of reasons to keep doing the work that we do. I’m motivated by the urgency of the task at hand as well as by the continued growth of the youth climate movement; I’m motivated by the hope that we can still make a difference.