IOF students at COP28


It’s Our Future (IOF) empowers Chicago area high school students of all backgrounds to work together towards climate justice in their schools and communities.
Program Background

IOF connects youth from Chicago, Oak Park/River Forest, and the surrounding suburbs. We meet twice a month via zoom and quarterly at in-person outings and events. Students engage with elected officials, decision makers and sustainability professionals to learn about climate policy and advocacy and share their views. Selected students have the opportunity to attend the annual UN Climate Conference (COP) as official UN observers.

IOF youth: 

  • – Advocate for policies and strategies by speaking at community board meetings; authoring editorials; and collaborating with community leaders to develop sustainability policies with local K-12 schools. 
  • – Connect with other youth who share their concerns, and with sustainability professionals, elected officials, and the international youth climate movement. During annual visits to the COP UN Climate Summits as official UN observers, IOF youth meet with world leaders, Indigenous activists, and others.
  • – Educate each other and their communities on intersecting facets of the climate crisis through forums, film screenings and trainings. 

It’s Our Future is a welcoming space for 8th-12th graders who care about climate justice. Join us as we learn together and work to make change.

Why is IOF Important?

The climate crisis can be overwhelming. It’s Our Future gives youth a supportive community to share ideas and make an impact in the face of the climate crisis. Collaboration keeps us moving forward towards climate justice. The staff of Seven Generations Ahead work in both mentorship and partnership with IOF youth.

For more information on this important work, check out our 2022 Year-End Report and 2021 Year-End Report

What’s the impact of It’s Our Future?
  • – IOF students helped to craft and pass a comprehensive School Sustainability Policy including metrics and goals regarding energy use, zero waste, climate literacy and more for Oak Park River Forest High School (OPRF). They are now helping with implementation.
  • – Evanston Township High School, with the leadership of IOF students, is now in the process of designing their own policy following the road map created by OPRF.
  • – IOF students are pushing for their schools (there are 7 high schools  represented in IOF)  to craft similar climate policies. 
  • – IOF youth attend the United Nations Climate Conference, also known as COP where they meet with world leaders, other youth activists, indigenous leaders and share their views. When they return they educate their peers and communities through daily dispatches, social media, presentations and livestream events. 
  • – IOF students gave powerful testimony to Evanston’s city council before the unanimously voted to declare a Climate Emergency

Below is part of a thank you letter from David Pope, President, Oak Park Residence Corporation and Executive Director, Oak Park Housing Authority

“Sophie Ball, a [then] OPRF High School student and member of It’s Our Future, provided what was singularly the most important testimony about the entire project [a net zero energy apartment building that will be the most significant new multifamily building in the entire Midwest ] to the members of the Oak Park Plan Commission, thereby enabling us to obtain the necessary local zoning approvals that have paved the way for us to advance this project through to construction.”

It's Our Future at COP28

We’re thrilled to introduce you to this year’s COP28 delegates! These students come from schools across the Chicago area, and are dedicated to climate justice. 


Learn more about them and their hopes for COP28.
What do our students have to say?

“…My experiences at IOF have helped tremendously in brainstorming solutions and having the leadership and speaking skills necessary to be successful [at advocating for climate curriculum].” – Sophie Ball, Oak Park River Forest High School class of 2022  

“I really appreciate all the support…  I’ve had one of the best experiences a person could ask for.” – Antonio Padilla, Solorio Academy class of 2023

“…Having a space for resource-sharing, networking between separate groups, and making friends within the youth climate space was incredibly valuable to me!” – MIah Ebels-Duggan, Evanston Township High School class of 2023

“…It’s Our Future was fundamental in shaping me into the climate activist that I am today…”  – Charlotte Meyer, Oak Park River Forest High School class of 2021

Get in touch!

For more information, contact us at iof@sevengenerationsahead.orgFollow us on Instagram: @iofyouth

Check out some of our past projects!

It's Our Future at COP27


It’s Our Future student delegates attended the UN Climate Conference, COP27, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt last year!

Five Chicagoland students and one teacher reported on the ground at the conference and sent back dispatches daily about all the action. Get the youth perspective on key issues at the summit, including reparations and finance, decarbonization, and adaptation. 

Check out their interview on WBEZ’s Reset with Sasha-Ann Simons!

And see all our COP27 coverage and student dispatches here!

It's Our Future at COP26

We’re thrilled that five IOF students had the chance to attend COP26 – the UN Climate Conference – in Glasgow in 2021. We encourage you to follow the IOF Instagram and Facebook pages to check out coverage from the conference and get the latest IOF news.

Recent IOF Media Coverage: 

IOF student Lily Aaron on Chicago Tonight

COP26 coverage in the Wednesday Journal

Livestream with One Earth Film Festival

Watch how we educate, engage and empower Oak Park/River Forest high school aged leaders 

A successful night of youth action  – Wednesday Journal


We want you to feel our fear – Wednesday Journal



Climate activists take fight to Madrid – Wednesday Journal