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HBCU Graduate Student Researchers Lead Development of BSI's 1st State of Black Sustainability Report

Updated: Mar 15

It is the young trees that make up the forest. - African Proverb

Due to an absence of community-owned data related to the impacts and solutions around climate and environmental challenges in the Black community, Black Sustainability, Inc. is developing a State of Black Sustainability Report, FOR us, BY us. We were intentional in our outreach to identify student researchers, from HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities), AU’s (African Universities) and MSI’s (Minority-serving Institutions) to support the research and report development.

The selected students are joining our Executive Director & Co-Founder, Raina Turner-Greenlea and BSI Research Committee Lead, Nene Igietseme, Ph.D. in the development of our first comprehensive State of Black Sustainability report to ensure our research is community-owned and controlled. The report will be released in Black August AND feature and immersive in-person experience at the 9th Annual Black Sustainability Summit!


Omotola Oladapo, 2023-2024 BSI Research Intern

School: Georgia State University (Minority-serving institution - MSI)

Focus: Masters in Public Policy

"I was inspired to apply for the Black Sustainability Student Research position due to my deep-rooted passion for sustainability and a strong belief in the significance of addressing environmental and social issues. With over 10 years of volunteering experience and visits to marginalized communities in my home country, Nigeria, I have witnessed the pressing need for improvements to create livable conditions. This firsthand experience has fueled my determination to be part of the solution.

I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to engage in meaningful research that not only advances our understanding of sustainability but also addresses the unique challenges faced by Black communities in this context. I firmly believe that this position aligns perfectly with my academic and personal interests, enabling me to make a meaningful contribution to the field of sustainability while advocating for social and environmental justice."

Omatola's academic concentration in global affairs covering education, urban planning, conflict management, and fostering alternative economies, closely aligns with the mission of Black Sustainability, Inc.

Aliyah Hamer, 2023-2024 BSI Research Intern

School: Clark Atlanta University (HBCU)

Focus: Masters in Business Administration

"I wanted to apply for this because I felt a strong desire to try something different and embark on a new learning journey. Getting involved in the community and contributing to meaningful projects were essential aspects of my motivation. By participating, I hope to expand my knowledge, develop new skills, and make a positive impact on my community."

Aliyah has shared that she feels her MBA isn't just a business degree, it's a tool to tackle Black sustainability head-on. From starting her own eco-friendly business to advising green investments, shaping impactful policy, or driving change within companies, the possibilities are endless. With her skills and passion, she is ready to create a future where Black communities and the environment thrive together.

Autumn Dancy, 2024 BSI Research Intern

School: Florida Agricultural Mechanical University (HBCU)

Focus: B.S. Environmental Science

Autumn Dancy is a Florida native who fell in love with identifying environmental hazards and tackling responses to them. She has seen first hand the degradation of her local lagoon since childhood and has become an active student at FAMU. Autumn started a campus composting program in the absence of a university led initiative and has even taken action in her local city to prevent the expansion of a boat marina by getting enough signatures to get it on the ballot.

With a strong passion for environmental communication, animal activism and environmental justice, Autumn brings a powerful, confident energy to the team.

Kandake Wallace, 2024 Lead Graduate Student Researcher

School: Florida Agricultural Mechanical University (HBCU)

Focus: Ph.D. Candidate, School of the Environment

Kandake May Wallace is a Ph.D. candidate at Florida A&M University’s School of the Environment. Sister Kandake's research is focused on environmental justice and political participation. She joins the BSI team as the Lead Graduate Student Researcher guiding the next phase of our State of Black Sustainability Report.

She shared what led her to join our team was, "Because of my passion for, and commitment to, sustainability and utilize my scholarship, skillset, and service in environmental justice and science to educate and empower my community."

As a first-generation doctoral student with a lineage from the Global South, Wallace comes from a working-class blended family that taught her the values of hard work, compassion and resiliency, which have shaped her identity as an academic and activist. A two-time HBCU scholar, she graduated from Howard University with a B.S. in Chemistry. She is also investigating the relationship between air pollution exposure and voter turnout in Florida, with an aim to inform policy and funding decisions surrounding environmental justice efforts.


Rest assured, you will be hearing from them soon as they groundtruth the State of Black Sustainability Report with each of you at your Industry House Meetings!!!

We would be remiss if we didn't extend additional gratitude and major thanks to BSN Member Blythe Coleman-Mumford for her leadership and commitment to support HBCU student education. Through her challenging her mainstream organization to invest in opportunities for the next generation, we received a portion of funding for our researchers!

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