OVO Foundation launches new £1m programme to help tackle the climate crisis

28 July 2020

  • OVO Foundation has launched Climate Changers, a new programme to inspire and educate over 100,000 children and young people to take action on the climate crisis.
  • £1m has been invested in three projects to educate children in the UK on sustainability issues and enable them to make a positive and tangible difference in their local community.
  • Over the next 3 years the funding will: save 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions in schools and create 12 Tiny Forests absorbing 7,200kg CO2 .
  • The projects support OVO's sustainability strategy, Plan Zero, by educating the younger generation on how to reduce their carbon footprint, protect the physical environment and to limit their impact on the planet.

28th July 2020 - OVO Foundation’s new £1m programme; Climate Changers, will support projects that empower children and young people from around the UK to help fight the climate crisis and create greener, more sustainable communities. The programme has been developed in response to recent research which suggests 13% of children and 5% of young people typically never spend any of their leisure time outdoors.

To celebrate its fifth year of funding, OVO Foundation launched its new strategy which focuses on giving all children access to a sustainable future. Climate Changers is pivotal to this new vision, as well as OVO’s sustainability strategy Plan Zero. As the climate crisis is the defining issue of our time, projects have been selected that can educate on sustainability issues and have quantifiable outcomes with carbon emission savings.

Over the next three years, the funding from OVO Foundation will engage more than 100,000 children and young people from around the UK with climate change issues, including biodiversity and energy efficiency. The funding will also be used to connect them with real-life opportunities to make a tangible difference in their local community, helping to embed positive and sustainable behaviours and fight the climate crisis for years to come.

Climate Changers, is supporting the following three organisations:

  • Action for Conservation (AFC): support bringing AFC’s WildED programme to over 2,470 students in schools with high levels of deprivation, inspiring young people to create greener, more sustainable schools and communities. WildED will support young people to design and deliver 400 projects that boost biodiversity, build key skills and knowledge and cut carbon emissions. The programme will also equip 198 teachers with training and resources to support young people’s environmental learning in the longer term.
  • Earthwatch Europe: Funding some of the UK’s first Tiny Forests - a densely packed native forest built into urban spaces which fit into the size of a tennis court. Creating 12 Tiny Forests with schools will benefit 9,000 children across 24 schools in some of the least advantaged areas of the UK, connecting them to nature and helping them understand more about environmental sustainability. By 2023, once the 12 Tiny Forests are established, they will collectively have an average annual uptake of up to 7.2 tonnes of CO2.
  • Energy Sparks: supporting Energy Sparks’ online school energy management tool and activity programme that teaches pupils how to improve energy efficiency at school. Energy Sparks will provide students from 350 schools across the UK with targeted advice on how to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions, whilst equipping them with energy saving skills to take home to their families. Over the next three years, we’ll help schools avoid 6,000 tonnes of CO2, and save £1.9m in energy costs.

Gaby Sethi, Head of OVO Foundation, said:

“The climate crisis is urgent, and whilst it’s up to all of us to do our bit, we know that not all children and young people are taught how important it is – or even given the skills to help. There are feelings of helplessness, but not hopelessness, as they search for ways to take action. This is where our projects come in. It’s our mission to not only help children understand why they should care about the environment, but connect them with opportunities to have a meaningful difference and show them how they can protect it for future generations.”

Hendrikus van Hensbergen, Chief Executive at Action for Conservation, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted to join the OVO Foundation’s Climate Changers programme and incredibly grateful for their support with our work across the UK. With 41% of UK species in decline and less than 12 years left to limit dangerous climate impacts, we need young people from all backgrounds to feel inspired and empowered to protect the natural world. This initiative will enable us to support more young people than ever before to build a greener future for people and the plane and demonstrate the ways in which their generation can lead revolutionary change at this crucial moment in time.”

Maria Pontes, Programmes and Partnership Director at Earthwatch, said:

“Young people all over the world are taking action to protect their future and that of our planet. Earthwatch is committed to helping the next generation to build the knowledge and skills to do this, and thanks to the support of the OVO Foundation, we are delighted to be able to expand our exciting new Tiny Forests initiative and involve 24 schools. We are looking forward to connecting children and teachers with nature outside the classroom, and, as the saying goes, seeing mighty oaks from little acorns grow.”

Claudia Towner, CEO and Programme Director at Energy Sparks, said:

“The support of OVO Foundation will enable Energy Sparks to increase its impact across the UK, helping children and young people reduce their school’s carbon footprint, save money and develop a powerful can-do attitude towards the challenges of global warming.”


For more information:

E: [email protected]

About OVO Foundation

OVO Foundation is OVO’s charity that was created in 2014. Our vision is for all children and young people to have equitable access to a sustainable future. We do this by developing and funding projects that enable them to live in a sustainable community, and also increase their knowledge and awareness of sustainability issues and empower them to take action. Our projects include Future Builders, where we’ve worked with over 100 young homeless people to renovate derelict houses that they go on to live in, and Project Jua, where we electrify schools and health clinics in the most remote parts of Kenya to improve health and education outcomes for 100,000s of people. Thousands of OVO Energy customers choose to donate to OVO Foundation each month by adding at least 25p to their monthly statement. OVO matches all customer donations, and also covers OVO Foundation’s overheads so 100% of donations go directly to the projects.

About Action for Conservation:

Action for Conservation is a charity which uses pioneering approaches to engage and empower young people to protect the natural world and become the next generation of environmental changemakers. They work to inspire young people from diverse backgrounds across the UK to discover the magic of nature and take action to protect it, whilst supporting NGOs, businesses, schools and government to involve young people in their decision-making. They run WildED in secondary schools across the country, host their WildWEB digital environmental action programme, lead Residential Conservation Camps in national parks and support and mentor young people through their Youth Ambassador Programme. More recently, they launched the Penpont Project, the world’s largest youth-led restoration project of its kind, on a 2,000-acre estate in the Brecon Beacons National Park.

About Earthwatch Europe:

Earthwatch is an environmental charity with science at its heart. We drive the change needed to live within our means and in balance with nature. We do this by:

  • Connecting people with the natural world
  • Monitoring the health of our natural resources
  • Informing the actions that will have the greatest positive impact

About Energy Sparks:

Energy Sparks is a unique and powerful online schools’ energy management tool and education programme that empowers pupils to improve the energy efficiency of their schools, helping them to have a real impact in the fight against climate change and teaching them energy saving life skills to take home to their families and communities. Pupils investigate how energy is used in different parts of the school and devise strategies to reduce their schools consumption. Energy Sparks includes a competitive element to kickstart and maintain pupil enthusiasm. Energy Sparks started in 2017 in Bath and NE Somerset and now operates in five areas across the UK. Participating schools have already seen reductions in energy use of up to 30%.