SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: Corrina Grace moved away from her Lismore home to establish a youth leadership organisation that has now won a United Nations prize.
SUSTAINABLE FUTURE: Corrina Grace moved away from her Lismore home to establish a youth leadership organisation that has now won a United Nations prize.

Lismore woman wins UN award for youth program

A LISMORE woman has been presented with $50,000 at a United Nations awards ceremony in Paris for her organisation which aims to empower youth.

Corrina Grace moved away from Australia after spending a year in Guatemala in 2007 when she realised she could do more to create a sustainable future.

"I had the intention to work at Macquarie Bank as the sustainability manager, but what I saw in Guatemala was enough to convince me that if I was to change anything, I had to get out there and do it," she said.

In January 2009 Ms Grace founded the Guatemala-based organisation SERES, which empowers the "unlikely" leaders as the next generation of change makers.

Since then it has expanded to El Salvador and southern California.

It was SERES' co-founder Antonio Cruz Sanchez who inspired Ms Grace to take the risk and start a non-profit.

"I met a young man who was from a low-income rural community in El Salvador and he was deeply passionate about climate change," Ms Grace said.

"I realised that the most significant thing that I could do would be to help Antonio be all that he could be."

Ms Grace said her passion for sustainability began at a young age.

"I grew up with an ecologically-minded upbringing," she said.

"I volunteered in my teenage years and became more aware of our global ecosystem."

Ms Grace was awarded the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation Japan prize for her Youth Ambassadors program last week.

Ms Grace will use the funds to work towards her next big project - to build a centre for sustainability as a training centre for youths.

There are 2400 young leaders in the SERES network, but Ms Grace is aiming for 7000 by 2020.



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