IDEAS For Us (IDEAS) is a United Nations accredited 501c3 non-profit organization, founded and headquartered in Orlando, Florida. Their mission is to help people develop their ideas, fund local action, and scale global solutions that solve our most pressing environmental and humanitarian challenges. IDEAS create branches on campuses and in communities around the world to help catalyze local action that advances sustainability in alignment with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
There’s a problem with environmentalism in the United States – it is too focused on advocacy and not enough on action. What happens with advocacy is that people learn really well what the problems are that exist, but they see no solutions and they feel powerless to effect change in their own environments, as well as on a global scale. Then you have people in masses doing absolutely nothing from apathy and depression. IDEAS For Us is an environmental action organization, not an environmental advocacy organization because the goal is to get people to take action. They want everyday people going out to do something in their own community to advance sustainability. IDEAS For Us was founded by Chris Castro, who is now the President of the IDEAS For Us Board of Directors, and Clayton Louis Ferrara, who is now the non-profits’ Executive Director. Chris and Clayton met when Chris was a senior at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and Clayton was a fresh graduate of Rollins College and a biologist building a natural history museum. It’s a great Central Florida story because one person is from UCF and the other is from Rollins, who both saw the vision and believed they could make a difference to turn a college club into a non-profit that could replicate action effectively all around the world.
IDEAS has been engaging a wealth of volunteers and was opening other chapters in different places around the USA in 2011 when they both got to work to fill the need of building an overseeing organization to help the movement. Early on in the creation of IDEAS For Us, they were recognized by former President Barack Obama, who awarded the organization the “Champions of Change” award in 2011, which propelled them to be able to attend UN conferences and now become the only organization in Central Florida that is part of the United Nations with special consultative status giving them clearance to bring people up to the United Nations for various meetings, including students, community members, and staff who run workshops and make presentations throughout the year.
In Orlando, IDEAS For Us operates a local agriculture program called Fleet Farming since 2014 and a community think/do tank called The IDEAS Hive since 2013.