If you or your children are of a certain age, you may recall a popular Saturday morning cartoon featuring five Planeteers from five continents who summon planetary elements to help them protect and take care of planet Earth. The show was the brainchild of media mogul Ted Turner, and began airing in 1990. In its 6-year run, the popular cartoon ranked number 1 in ratings, aired in over 100 countries, and won Emmys, Environmental Media Awards, Parents’ Choice Awards, and Genesis Awards, while carrying its message of environmental stewardship to kids across the nation and around the world. Although the show stopped airing in 1996, the legacy it created lives on today as the Captain Planet Foundation (CPF), a non-profit organization that awards grant money to schools, organizations and communities to fund projects that directly benefit the environment and the children and youth who are involved.
During the peak popularity of the Captain Planet cartoon, series creator and producer Barbara Pyle decided to use the platform of the show to do good in the real world. She negotiated part of the merchandise revenue of the show in 1991 to create the Captain Planet Foundation. Since then, the organization has been able to fund over 1,600 environmental projects featuring youth involvement, impacting over 3,000 schools and communities, in all 50 states and in over 23 countries.
The impact of the projects funded by the CPF are real and measurable, a necessity given the mission of CPF, which is to inspire a passion and understanding in today’s children to solve environmental problems in schools, communities and in homes. The projects funded by CPF have been able to create lasting change in all areas of environmental stewardship. Children and youth have recycled more than 100 tons of waste. Project funding has led to the founding of outdoor classrooms, organic school gardens, nature habitats, and fruit orchards, some of which have been able to directly supply schools with healthy foods for their cafeterias. Grant money from CPF has also been used to clean and maintain rivers and streams, preserve and restore wetlands and forests, and clean up parks and neighborhoods.
Adults and children interested in becoming involved in the Captain Planet Foundation can do so either through applying for a grant, or by providing funding for their projects. The Foundation also accepts volunteers and interns who want to become involved with the organization’s mission to inspire children to become good environmental stewards.
Applying for a Grant
Schools and non-profit organizations who are seeking funding for projects that provide the opportunity for kids to become involved in environmental stewardship, have real and lasting impact, benefit communities, and/or encourage environmental education in schools, can apply for grants ranging from $500-$2500 through the Captain Foundation web portal. The organization gives precedence to groups who have some type of matching fund or in-kind component, as this is usually an indicator of a more successful project. CPF may fund all or part of a project. Groups who apply will receive email notification of their project’s acceptance, and both funded and non-funded projects may reapply after certain time frames have passed.
Donors who wish to become involved with CPF by providing funds for projects can do so in one of the five areas of planetary elements that provided the basis for the original cartoon characters: Fire, Earth, Wind, Water, and Heart. Examples of some of the project types funded within these element catagories include Technology, Learning Gardens, Recycling, Conservation, Pollution, and Community Vitality. Funds will only be provided to projects that fit CPF’s mission, and will not be granted to groups who seek funds for operating expenses, landscaping, scholarships, expensive equipment, promotional items, or other expenses that do not have a direct environmental outcome.
Whether you are interested in applying for funding, providing funds, or in getting involved with Captain Planet Foundation through volunteering, interning, following the organization online, or helping youth become involved in CPF’s Youth Planeteer Clubs, the Foundation has ample opportunities for you to help kids and teens get out into nature and become involved in helping restore and preserve our planet in ways that are fun, informative, and most important of all, making a real difference!