In 1970, Tom and Kate Chappell had a big dream: They wanted to create personal care products with no artificial flavors, fragrances, sweeteners, colors, and preservatives—the kind of stuff they’d feel okay letting their kids use. And they wanted to prove business could be a force for good.
The world has changed a lot in the past 53 years, but those goals still drive the brand today. You know it as Tom’s of Maine.
It’s the spirit of the Chappell’s legacy that has been a driving factor in all of Tom’s of Maine’s sustainable business practices, efforts to give back, and most recently, the introduction of the Tom’s of Maine Incubator Program, which just finished up its inaugural year and launched the application for next year on Sept. 19, says Michelle Waring, steward for sustainability and everyday good at Tom’s of Maine.
The Tom’s of Maine Incubator is again selected five early-career leaders underrepresented in the climate movement to receive $20,000 to support their work, access to expert mentors, opportunities to collaborate IRL and virtually with other Incubator members, and a full curriculum of workshops and learning opportunities to elevate their work. Applications are open for year two now.
“Communities across the U.S. are experiencing the effects of climate change today with record-high temperatures and devastating storms,” Waring says. “But we know that those who are most impacted are typically underserved by and underrepresented in the climate movement. That is why we are so excited about this program, an opportunity to support these emerging leaders through funding, mentorship, and amplification to help propel them in their journey for meaningful change.”
According to a Sept. 2021 report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the most severe effects from climate change fall disproportionately upon underserved communities—specifically racial and ethnic minority communities—who are the least able to prepare for and recover from the impacts of climate change. Many of last year’s incubator members were motivated to take action because of what they witnessed in their own lives.
Take Aliyah Collins, founder of the Eco-Healing Project. During her senior year at Fisk University—a historically Black liberal arts college in Nashville, Tennessee—a devastating tornado tore through the North Nashville area, according to the Eco-Healing Project’s website. She witnessed how it disproportionately affected Black residents, herself included, as she tried to navigate community recovery while also being a full-time student with a job.
Through the Tom’s of Maine incubator, she was able to grow the Eco-Healing Project, which aims to help historically Black college and university students heal and recover from the impact of climate disasters through nature and gardening.
Last year’s other four members were:
“The five Incubator members and their mentors formed incredible bonds,” Waring says. “The conversations we had and the insights we learned from them were truly incredible. They all wanted to continue to be involved in the program and are now our esteemed alumni.”
Know someone who would be a good fit for the program? Applications are open online now through Oct. 15, 2023 to become a member of this year’s Tom’s of Maine Incubator.
The application itself is straight-forward: Complete the registration form, give no more than a two-hundred word responses to few questions, and upload a one to two-minute video answering why you feel it’s important to resource underrepresented leaders in the environmental space and how winning will help your project or idea get off the ground.
“The Tom’s of Maine Incubator is designed to resource people who are underrepresented in the environmental movement and support the next generation of changemakers with solutions,” Waring says. “If that’s you, apply! You could be one of the next Tom’s of Maine incubator members.”
Interested in applying or know someone who would be a good fit? Learn more about eligibility and complete the application online.
No purchase necessary. 50 US/DC, 18 – 30 years, with impeded access/exposure to sustainability/climate/environmental fields. Ends 11:59 pm ET 10/15/23. Rules/elig:www.tomsofmaineincubator.com