This series of mini-collages visually tells Kat Cadungog’s story of securing funding for FES to launch The Youth Harbour. In 2021, FES embarked on a unique project to create a youth-driven climate support system with funding managed entirely by young people. Starting in September 2020, Kat began fundraising, which took almost a year to turn into successful commitments. Despite support from allied funders and friends, there were moments of loneliness in reaching out to potential partners. Kat worked hard to cultivate philanthropic imagination centered around youth and advocated for the necessary funds to turn the dream into reality. 

Since the start of The Youth Harbour, FES has committed over $1M to over 60 projects throughout Turtle Island. 

Through these visuals,  Kat hopes to capture the essence of the journey, inspiring young people to take action for a more sustainable, fair, and prosperous future.

Visual 1. “The Grind”


In “The Grind,” I felt the weight of countless late nights trying to perfect our proposals, each iteration feeling like a thousand attempts at capturing our vision. Sometimes, translating our passion into funder-speak made me wonder if it cheapened the essence of our idea. I aimed for that sweet spot in our asks—neither overpromising nor underpromising, always seeking the balance between optimism and realism. In its initial stages, there was an influx of opinions, roadblocks, and pressure to secure funding—it just felt like there was so much at stake when the answer was either going to be yes or no and the decision felt so out of my control but oddly solely my responsibility. It was a big burden to bear while not being paid to carry it. 

Visual 2. “Wait, what?”


In “Wait, What?” the reality of having to deliver on what we promised with the funding hits hard. Now, it’s not just about believing in the idea, but believing in our ability to execute it. The weight of expectation feels heavy, knowing that all eyes are on us. Excitement and terror intertwine as I navigated this new phase. One misstep could mean letting down so many who have placed their faith in this. Yet, despite the apprehension, we know we must take that first step, ready to brace ourselves for whatever twists and turns lie ahead (there were many).


Visual 3. “They don’t know I don’t know what I’m doing but they probably do.”


In this visual, the journey is marked by failure and the stark realization of one’s limitations. Confronting the impossibility of doing everything alone is humbling. Despite external validation of success, a sense of isolation pervades—a common plight of youth leaders striving to prove they’re good enough while also being treated with a touch of “you don’t belong here.” The pressure to overperform while still learning the ropes creates a suffocating cycle of trying to keep up appearances amidst mounting challenges. The toll of constantly extinguishing fires while masking personal struggles becomes painfully apparent, highlighting the unsustainability of the situation.


Visual 4. “Catching the Wave”


Here, the realization dawns that the journey cannot be done alone. Attempting to do so would miss the essence of The Youth Harbour’s mission, which is rooted in collective action. Understanding that the strength of the project lies in the unity of youth on the frontlines underscores the importance of moving forward together. This stage signifies embracing the truth that we are part of a larger movement—a movement driven by the belief that youth hold the key to transformative change in tackling climate challenges. It’s a recognition that we are interdependent, acknowledging that alone, we are incomplete. We need each other, for it’s through collective effort that wecan truly make a difference.

Visual 5. “Onwards”


The essence of The Youth Harbour is celebrated: a collective effort fueled by gratitude for the movement, allies, and friends who stand alongside us. Together, we fight to forge a climate-resilient future, guided by love for creation and a deep sense of community. The Youth Harbour embodies this spirit of unity, where each member plays a vital role in the shared journey. Recognizing the interconnectedness of our efforts is paramount, as we dream big with abundance and commit to bold, collective action. It’s a call to embrace a vision of limitless possibilities and work together towards realizing it.


About the Author/Creator

Kat (she/her) is the Executive Director of FES. Kat’s main focus is building The Youth Harbour, a youth-for-youth climate support system focusing on supporting youth climate leaders with financial, technical, and networking support to amplify and scale their work, so far raising over $4 million for youth climate action since 2021. On top of her work at FES, she sits on the board of the Sustainability Network, is an Advisory Council member to the Boann Social Impact, and is an Advisory Group Member for the Community Climate Transitions Innovation Fund by Tamarack Institute. Kat is passionate about activating the local community, whether that be organizing grassroots campaigns and clothing swaps, or volunteering at the University of Calgary or Calgary Foundation. Kat is passionate about empowering youth to take impactful action on sustainable development, strengthening and amplifying the youth *force* in the Canadian climate movement.