Communities across the U.S. are experiencing the effects of climate change daily with record-high temperatures and devastating storms. Unfortunately, many of the individuals most severely impacted are underserved by and underrepresented in the climate movement. The voices most affected by climate change are rarely reflected or engaged in finding solutions.
With this in mind, the Tom’s of Maine Incubator was created in 2022 to resource the next generation of leaders from marginalized communities who are driving environmental solutions. By providing funding, mentorship, amplification, and support to these early-career changemakers who are underrepresented in the climate movement, Tom’s of Maine is empowering them to Do Good. For Real.
Each of the five Tom’s of Maine Incubator Members receives $20,000 in funding to support their work, plus access to expert mentors, opportunities to collaborate in person and virtually, and support from Tom’s of Maine in amplifying their message and engagement with their important work.
Tom’s of Maine and PR agency, BCW, worked together to conceive and execute a campaign to help amplify the next generation of leaders driving environmental solutions, leading to the Tom’s of Maine Incubator.
Story mining was essential to the strategy for the Incubator, as the lack of representation in the environmental movement is one of the biggest challenges. The lack of representation can be attributed to several factors including: Historical Factors: the environmental movement and climate science have traditionally been dominated by voices from privileged backgrounds; Access to Education: Limited access to quality education and resources disproportionately affects underrepresented communities; Socioeconomic Factors: Economic disparities can restrict participation in the climate movement; Networking and Mentorship: Underrepresented groups may face challenges in accessing professional networks and mentors who support their career progression, especially networks or mentors who share their life experiences.
With this in mind, BCW focused on first drawing attention to the application to find five Incubator Members followed by amplifying the selected Member’s and their ideas and solutions. This was done by first researching and understanding what those underrepresented in the climate movement really needed to garner their interest and reach them where they are. Then, once Members were selected, BCW and Tom’s of Maine conducted 1:1 story mining sessions to pin down compelling elements of each Incubator Member’s narrative. This allowed the team to focus on amplifying the Incubator Members’ voices and stories via media, speaking, and sponsorship opportunities that could further spotlight their work.
The PR efforts behind the campaign resulted in media interviews tied to newsworthy moments in time to share Incubator Members' stories, supported by paid amplification and social sharing. This was in addition to bespoke social content featuring the Incubator Members on the Tom’s of Maine social channels, plus amplification of their own social content for added reach. Lastly, Tom’s of Maine website updates and curated blog posts highlighted the application, overall campaign and Incubator Members to bolster SEO results. This integrated strategy amplified the Incubator program across earned, owned, paid, social, and digital media.
Looking ahead, the Tom’s of Maine Incubator is uniquely positioned to help address these challenges to help improve representation in the environmental movement, as seen with the success of the Incubator Year One. Tom’s of Maine is further investing in underrepresented climate change leaders — providing resources and creating opportunities to elevate the voices of these emerging leaders and helping them scale solutions that will benefit all people.
The Tom’s of Maine Incubator program exceeded objectives to amplify the next generation of leaders driving environmental solutions. The program received over 800 million media and social media impressions in 2022 and 2023. The program and Members have been covered in several top-tier and notable outlets, including Essence, Forbes, Yahoo!, WWD, NewBeauty, PureWow, Global Grind, NewsOne, AfroTech and many more. Incubator Members’ also had access to programming that the BCW team helped co-create such as networking with climate leaders through workshops, gaining exposure through LinkedIn Live events, and receiving amplification on Tom’s of Maine social, digital, and owned channels.
What truly sets the Incubator apart and solidifies the campaign’s cultural relevance are the five members. Bodhi Patil is co-founder of Ocean Uprise to lead blue initiatives towards ocean health. Wawa Gatheru founded Black Girl Environmentalist, an intergenerational community for Black girls. Sanjana Paul co-founded Earth Hacks, a nonprofit organization that supports students hacking the climate crisis. Alexia Leclercq is co-founder of Start: Empowerment. Aliyah Collins is the founder of the Eco-Healing project to connect environmental justice to spiritual care.
The inaugural program was a success, and Tom’s of Maine and BCW are in the process of launching the second year of the Tom's of Maine Incubator as a renewed commitment to elevating the next generation of leaders from marginalized communities. With financial and professional support from Tom’s of Maine, Incubator Members will have the opportunity, resources, and space to immerse themselves in creating solutions for the greater good.