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Miami teen Michael Joseph Green develops College Ready Recycling program

Miami teen Michael Joseph Green develops College Ready Recycling
Amber Green

Michael Joseph Green is a Miami teen making a difference. Michael "Joey" is a junior at Coral Gables Senior High that developed the College Ready Recycling program, a response to our state’s lack of funding (recycling) and a need for accessible recycling programs. It is a hybrid non-profit program that makes recycling accessible and encourages kids to recycle their way towards college savings.

How did College Ready Recycling come to fruition?

As a member of Engaged Youth (a Miami based youth group ran by Ashoka, partnered with The Miami Foundation), the idea for College Ready Recycling came as a response to a group challenge to find a social issue the kids felt passionately about, and try to come up with a sustainable business model to solve it.

Each of the kids were to pair up, pick different issues, develop a venture to address the matter and then present at the end of the program. Most kids created support groups to address social pressures teens face, Joey opted to tackle legislative funding issues that bother him to the core:

  1. Florida's blatant disregard for sustainable/responsible waste management (recycling)
  2. The rising cost of college tuition.

Youth members of the program collect plastic bottles, which are picked-up and collected on a weekly basis. The plastic bottles are counted and $.20 is automatically transferred into a college/trust account for each bottle collected (presently capped at 40 bottles/per week). The college/trust account is social network friendly and also allows friends and families the ability to contribute to the youth member’s account directly, online and with ease.

Each youth member must maintain a 3.5 GPA to participate in the program and attend any fundraisers or events.

The program is designed to encourage responsible, sustainable living early on through creating healthy recycling habits. Kids are touching the plastic bottles and actively participating in the recycling process and associating environmental conservation as a means of generating revenue.

The reward system also introduces the concept of financial planning early on, and gives deserving kids (and future scholars) an option for college savings no one can touch, that they wouldn’t otherwise have.

College Ready Recycling walks the families through setting up their account online “one-on-one”, registers the potential members (kids) and confirms contact information with young members with the hopes of weekly pick-ups and grade checks from older, driven teens will provide routine accessibility to positive role models our community's children so desperately need.

Logistics: the program is run for kids, by kids. Each of the staff members are a part of the business finance academy and have each had +3 years of accounting training. The staff receive credit for their time as working interns and simultaneously accrue community service hours towards their own Bright Futures Scholarships.

The first event (and annual fund raiser) is planned as a recycling drive in May. They'll be working with coordinators from Manatee County, who has successfully run the World Record's largest recycling drive that has generated +$2 Million for their local schools.

From there, a budget will be laid out and they will know how many kids can be sponsored for this year. In August, they'll be speaking at school orientations and open applications for memberships to our youth (starting in Coconut Grove).

Joey enjoys learning about math, finance and understanding the mechanics of business. He is a member of his school’s Business-Finance Academy and currently an intern at Coral Gables Credit Union. He recently attended UC Berkeley’s pre-college program to study microeconomics and is looking forward to the next step in his education – college.

At home, Joey enjoys riding his bike and prefers to be outside vs. inside anytime. His love of the outdoors and respect for the surrounding ecosystem has long translated into a passion for environmental preservation.

The son of a teenage mom, he is no stranger to financial struggle. There were times the lights were off; there wasn't a place to live and very little to eat. It's from his own experience of constantly worrying about how to pay for college, the idea for College Ready Recycling began.