What is the Iris Project?

The Iris Project is run in collaboration with Global Greengrants Fund, and has been established in memory of Iris Goldsmith, who died in a tragic accident aged 15.  Iris had a deep and lifelong connection with the natural world, a gentle way with animals, and a particular love for the sea. In her memory, we are building a global community of young people working to protect and restore their local natural environment. We recognise that young people are already leading the way in finding solutions to the climate and ecological crisis. The Iris Project exists to shine a light on that leadership, and to enable outstanding individuals to take it further by providing access to the funds and support that, all too often, they find too difficult to access.

Our Advisory Panel.

Our Youth Advisory Panel sits at the heart of the Iris Project, and the global community that we are hoping to build. It is made up of outstanding young leaders from around the world who are already dedicating their lives to addressing the climate and nature crisis.

As well as identifying candidates for the annual Iris Prize, our panelists provide peer-to-peer mentoring to prize winners, and connect like-minded winners and applicants to share knowledge and create new ideas for change.

  • Sagar Koirala

    Youth Climate Activist, Food System Champion and SDG advocate from Nepal

  • Sophia Kianni

    Iran/USA, represents the U.S. on the United Nations Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change

  • Elizabeth Swanson

    Ecuador, an indigenous artist, environmental scientist, and storyteller

  • Yazid Mikail

    Nigeria, motivated environmentalist with experience in conservation, advocacy and innovation.

  • Alanieta Rose Atama

    Fiji, Secretariat Member for the Alliance for Future Generations.

  • Ezekiel Nyanfor

    Liberia, Founder and Executive Director of Liberian Youth for Climate Actions

  • Ankica Sokolić

    Macedonia, Co-founder of Kolektiv Z and currently studies Environmental Engineering

Our Team.

  • Hannah Dillon

    Director

  • Millie Edwards

    Project Manager

  • Anouk Delaprée

    Communications Coordinator

  • Ankica Sokolic

    Ecosystem Coordinator

Iris Goldsmith

About Iris

The Iris Project was founded in memory of Iris Goldsmith who died when she was fifteen years old. Iris had a profound connection with the natural world, a deep enduring love. The birds and the flowers, the trees, the ocean, the animals held an inexhaustible magic for her, ever since she was a tiny girl. It was here that she found peace and joy and endless inspiration. Our fragile planet and all its many wonders illuminated her life, so when she died there was no better way of honouring her memory than to support young people in their efforts to protect it. Knowing that this is how she would have spent her days, had she been given more of them.

Our Supporters.

We could not run the Iris Project without our brilliant network of partners. Our content and media partners, MakerChange Studio and Greenhouse Communications and Global Greengrants Fund. Not only are they ensuring we reach as many young people around the world as possible, but they are also helping shape the impact that the Iris Project has.

News & Blogs

Stay in the know.

Blog
In less than a year, with the help of funding provided by The Iris Project, Maria has started her project, constructed almost 500 stoves, made 18,000 briquettes and empowered her local community with new knowledge and skills in Malawi.
Blog
Steve is a marine conservationist and climate justice advocate based in Mombasa, Kenya. Founder of Youth Pawa, an organization that works in nature restoration projects, ocean conservation and community empowerment.
Link
Article from Conservation Optimism
Whilst there is, of course, no silver bullet when it comes to tackling the climate breakdown. Given the scale of the calamity that we face, it would be far more risky not to fund young people and the solutions that they hold.
Blog
Young people in Africa will be burdened with the responsibility of driving the outcomes of future COPs and bringing about the change our current governments have so far failed to implement. We must be included in shaping our own future.

FAQs

Want to learn more about how we’re structured and how you can get involved? Here are the answers to some of our frequently asked questions.

FAQs

Want to learn more about how we’re structured and how you can get involved? Here are the answers to some of our frequently asked questions.

About Us

What impact does the Iris Project aim to make?

Read The Iris Project Annual Report 2022 to learn more about the work we’ve been doing! Monitoring and evaluation is a core focus for the Iris Project. We have developed an Iris Project impact framework and commit to altering our approach if we find out that it isn’t having the intended impact. We endeavour to admit and reflect on things going wrong and use our failures to guide our progress.

Which regions do you work in?

We believe that circumstance should never act as a barrier to action – and aim to provide support wherever it is needed the most. That is why we work with panelists and nominating partners from all around the world to identify the best candidates for the Iris Prize, wherever they may come from.

How are you funded?

Our initial set-up costs were provided by Iris’ Family, and we have since secured donations from individuals and foundations – rather than private or listed companies – to fund the first three years of the Iris Project. The majority of donations will directly support the work of young people (60%), including paying our Advisory Panel for their time, and we have committed to keeping operational costs to 20% of the annual budget. As a partner of Global Greengrants Fund, we adhere to their Fundraising Guidelines which means that we don’t accept funds from anyone who does not support the principles of the Iris Project, namely securing environmental justice, championing the protection and restoration of nature, and the rights of those working to defend it.

 

Are you a registered charity?

Our founding partner Global Greengrants Fund is a registered UK charity, no 1151527. At the moment, the Iris Project is hosted as a ‘pooled’ fund by Global Greengrants, meaning that we adhere to their charitable principles but are not yet a registered charity in our own right. Over time this will change, but this partnership feels like the best fit for us as we find our feet as an organisation.

How do you manage risk?

We are wholly committed towards championing the protection and restoration of nature, and the rights of those working to defend it. We understand that this commitment does not come without risk, and want to ensure that the rights and lives of our prize winners and their families are not compromised as a result of their engagement with the Iris Project.

As such, we will work with Global Greengrants Fund to ensure that – should it come to it – our support can rapidly be delivered to prize winners whenever they might need it.

What is The Iris Project Ecosystem?

In the form of a private slack channel, all applicants who apply for a Seed, Stem or Iris Prize are invited to join. Here, they will receive opportunities, both funding and capacity building, find collaborating partners, and initiate or join discussions about environmental and social issues relevant to their community and advocacy. Read the Ecosystem Guidebook.

What is our safeguarding policy?

We are pleased to announce that we have recently updated our safeguarding framework in line with global best practice. We believe that the health, welfare and safety of children, young people and at-risk adults is paramount, and that all people, without exception, have a human right to be protected from harm and abuse of any kind regardless of age, gender, gender identity, gender expression, ethnicity, race, colour, national identity, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexuality, sexual orientation, lifestyle, family make-up, marital status, pregnancy or parental status, medical condition, genetic information, religion or beliefs. We are committed to protecting all children, young people and at-risk adults that may come into contact with The Iris Project. We are also committed to ensuring that all staff are protected from any forms of bullying, harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination and abuse of power. The Iris Project commits to addressing safeguarding throughout its work, through the three pillars of prevention, reporting and response. If you have any safeguarding concerns, please contact Millie Edwards, Safeguarding Focal Point at millie@theirisproject.org.

About The Prize

Can I print-out the application form and fill it in offline?

Yes you can. A PDF version of the form can be downloaded in English or Spanish.

Do you only support projects that already exist?

We will consider any project for the Iris Prize which supports our core principles; namely championing the protection and restoration of nature, and rights of those working to defend it. We recognise that nature restoration takes a variety of forms – from traditional land stewardship, to innovative technological solutions. As such, the Iris Prize will look to reward new ideas and established projects, hoping to overcome the circumstantial barriers that too often prevent young people from being able to advocate for nature-related change.

How can I apply?

Provided you fulfil our awards criteria you are eligible to apply for the Iris Prize. You can either fill out an application yourself, or ask a nominating partner to do so on your behalf. Go to the Get Involved section of our website to find out more.

Are groups eligible to apply?

A nominated individual may apply on behalf of a youth-led group. Mentorship & capacity-building will be available to a maximum group of 5 people. These leaders will then be required to share their learnings with the rest of their group.

Why young people?

Young people are at the centre of a global movement calling for urgent action to address the climate and ecological emergency. Whilst this movement has brought hope to many, we recognise that young people are not being effectively compensated for their efforts. They are being given all the responsibility for “saving the world” but reaping none of the rewards. The Iris Project hopes to address this through the provision of grant funding and mentorship that can harness the potential that young people have, whilst rewarding them financially for the work that they do.

Why nature?

We believe that the protection and restoration of nature should form a central part of any strategy seeking to mitigate the impacts of climate change. Whilst this should not be treated as an alternative solution to the rapid and urgent decarbonisation of the global economy, we recognise the multitude of benefits that locally-led nature restoration can bring, especially when approaches are grounded in justice, equity and inclusion.

What do you mean by ‘Capacity-Building’?

Building someone’s ability to deliver on the objectives of their project. Capacity-building can take a variety of forms depending on circumstance, which is why our Youth Advisory Panel will work with prize winners to tailor a capacity-building programme that best suits our prize winners’ needs, and the requirements of their project. This could take the form of anything from media training, to financial support for our prize winners’ families to enable them to spend more time on their projects.

Do applications have to be in English?

We do not want language to become a barrier to prize funding. As such we will endeavour to translate any applications received in a different language and work with our Youth Advisory Panel and broader network to overcome language barriers where we can. This year, we have translated the application form and eligibility criteria into Spanish, Portuguese, French and Arabic.

How are you reviewing applications?

All applications will be reviewed against the eligibility and scoring criteria by our Youth Advisory Panel and the Iris Project team. They will create a shortlist and provide an additional round of reference and application checks – including an additional submission – before presenting ten candidates for each prize to the Judging Panel.