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Special Project

Special Project
From the 5th Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Climate Cardinals

Finalist in On a Shoestring, Accessibility


Climate Cardinals is an international nonprofit working to translate climate change research and information, making the climate movement more accessible to those who don’t speak English. We aim to educate those who are unaware of climate change and provide them with information on how they can help combat the crisis. Climate Cardinals was first envisioned by Sophia Kianni, who realized the need for climate translation while on a trip to Iran in middle school. Sophia was shocked when she saw that the air pollution in Iran was so bad that she couldn’t see the stars at night. The more she read online about the climate in the Middle East, the more alarmed she became. Sophia brought up these concerns to her relatives overseas but was shocked when they informed her that they knew almost nothing about climate change.

Determined to educate them, Sophia began to pore over climate research, but she had to translate information into Farsi to help her relatives understand after realizing there was a lack of scientific literature available in languages other than English. After reading Sophia’s translations, her relatives have changed their habits over the past few years, reducing their use of cars and shopping more sustainably.

Through her experiences, Sophia realized that there is more the climate movement can be doing to support individuals like her relatives. She hopes that other students will join Climate Cardinals and translate information so that every person, regardless of the language they speak, can do their part to help save the world.

Strategy and Execution

Climate Cardinals is carrying out its mission to make accurate, reputable climate change information accessible to as many people as possible worldwide. We believe that the best way to tackle the existential problem of our generation is through collective action. In just a few short months, our campaign has garnered a massive international network of student volunteers to translate documents that are selected by our team of researchers. Unlike most organizations, Climate Cardinals incentivizes volunteers by allowing them to earn community service hours from the comfort of their own homes. For every 200 words they translate, our volunteers are credited with 1 hours of community service. The growth in demand for remote community service opportunities has been accelerated by the quarantine and will continue to gain momentum as young activists look for ways to improve the world with the power of the internet. Overseeing the volunteer translators is our team of language leads. Language Leads are the people responsible for supervising all of the Student Translators within their chosen language. This includes distributing documents to be translated, collecting translated documents, reviewing translated documents, and hosting weekly calls between their Student Translators, as well as keeping in touch with the Directors. 


We at Climate Cardinals continue to expand our reach by strategically campaigning on social media and forging partnerships to recruit volunteers. One of our first promotional videos was a simple TikTok encouraging people to sign up to volunteer with us and make a difference. Before long, it went viral and quickly amassed over 300,000 views. In addition to recruiting volunteers on social media, we have our work published and gain exposure through several partnerships with like-minded organizations: Radio Javan in Iran will be posting us to their audience of 11 million Instagram followers as well as publishing articles in their magazine; the Respond Crisis Translation network will help to proofread and distribute materials through their network of professional translators; the Arab Youth Climate Movement distributes our materials to their chapters. Other major partners that we work closely with include the United Nations Environmental Program, Unicef, Wikipedia, The New Fashion Initiative, Translators Without Borders, and many more. Going forward, we plan to continue forging new partnerships with more organizations including various school systems and sustainable fashion brands to bring people together in the fight against climate change.



To date, our organization consists of 15 directors, 500 language leads, and over 6,000 volunteer translators, and we are growing every day. Our student volunteers come from over 40 different countries and have worked so far to translate over 3000 pages of vital climate change information into 105 different languages around the world. Our work has been featured in the likes of Forbes, Business Insider, the Washington Post, MTV, CNBC, and more. Our relationship with our volunteers is mutually beneficial as well; according to a survey we conducted, the majority of our student volunteers have no prior translating experience and are actively improving their language skills by getting involved with Climate Cardinals. We’ve come a long way in a short period of time, and we’re just getting started. By the end of the year, we hope to have 20,000 volunteers on our team, 35,000 pages translated, and to reach people in 150 countries. We are working to mobilize a new generation of climate activists from the ground up. Our movement transcends geographic, cultural, and language barriers. We are one. We are Cardinals.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

Climate Cardinals


Entry Credits