The evening was hosted by Atlanta News First’s One on One host, Monica Kaufman Pearson, with musical performance by DejaBlue Grass Band
ATLANTA, GA (March 19, 2023) – Last night, Captain Planet Foundation, the global non-profit dedicated to empowering youth to be changemakers for the environment, held their annual Gala at Flourish Atlanta and recognized environmental honorees Xiye Bastida and Louie Schwartzberg. The benefit raised more than $650,000 to support the Foundation’s worldwide educational programming and grant-making efforts to engage and empower young people to be problem solvers for the planet. The Gala was hosted by Atlanta News First’s One on One host, Monica Kaufman Pearson, who is also the first woman and first minority to anchor the WSB-TV daily evening news in Atlanta, GA.
The evening began with a musical performance from DejaBlue Grass Band as guests had the opportunity to participate in the gala’s silent auction during the cocktail reception which included 14 private Chef’s table experiences from some of Atlanta’s most treasured Chefs.
Highlighting the extraordinary sustainability efforts of both honorees during the program, Climate Justice Activist, Xiye Bastida, was honored with the Young Superhero for Earth Award for her work organizing Fridays For Future NYC and helping mobilize up to 300,000 people in the 2019 climate strikes. In 2020, she co-founded the Re-Earth Initiative, a youth-led Climate Justice education organization and she is also a commissioner at the Climate Governance Commission that develops reform proposals on global climate policies.
While accepting her award Bastida remarked, “I was raised with a view of the world that was about giving back, that was about reciprocity, that was about climate justice. And if all of the kids in the world were raised with this point of view, we can truly change the world.”
Over the past 31 years, Captain Planet Foundation has funded 3,600+ hands-on environmental education projects with schools and nonprofits that serve children in all 50 U.S. states and in 35 countries internationally. More than 1.7 million children have directly participated in and benefited from these educational projects; and subsequently more than 11.4 million kids have been impacted.
During her remarks Captain Planet Foundation President, Leesa Carter-Jones said, “Gen Z and Gen Alpha know that climate change is real, and they’re not taking ‘no’ for an answer.” She continued, “Over the last four years we have trained over 3,500 young people from over 90 countries who remain dedicated to their work. We work with them and over time, they create laws and policies. They work with companies and with their school districts to create more sustainable supply chains. And they do this work with an incredible amount of hope and creativity.”
A rowdy live auction was hosted by Billy Harris and included items such as an incredible week in the French Riviera, a stay at Francis Ford Coppola’s luxury rainforest resort in Belize, a getaway to Ted Turner’s magnificent Vermejo property and more, and raised over $250,000 in the room.
Louie Schwartzberg, the award-winning filmmaker and fierce advocate for the environment, was honored with the Superhero for Earth Award for his dedication to creating works that have a positive effect on the future of the planet. Schwartzberg is the only artist to be inducted into the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) for his lifelong work, and his Netflix series, Moving Art, inspires, educates, and evolves viewer’s perspective on the world.
During his acceptance speech, Schwartzberg remarked, “I believe that the battleground today is a battleground for attention. Grabbing eyeballs is the new currency of our time.” He added, “I think that we need a new story to open our hearts and change our world view. As a filmmaker, I love to take people on a journey through time and scale; to make the invisible, visible; to unveil the mysteries of life that immerse us into nature’s wonders; because beauty is nature’s tool for survival.”
More than 450 guests were in attendance to celebrate the honorees and the impact that Captain Planet Foundation has had on youth around the world. Attendees represented across philanthropy, business, and celebrity guests including country music singer and rapper Blanco Brown, NFL Pro Bowler Ovie Mughelli, Lili Buffett, Laura Turner Seydel, designer Robert Comstock, Reverend Dr. Gerald Durley, Regional Administrator EPA Region 4 Daniel Blackman, Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton and Emerson Collective’s Jamie Van Leeuwen.
Previous award recipients at Captain Planet Foundation Galas have included: Jane Fonda, Bill Nye, Mark Ruffalo, Dr. Jane Goodall, President Jimmy Carter, Sir Richard Branson, Ludacris, Dr. Sanjay Guptay, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and HRH King Charles.
The Gala’s Visionary sponsor is Delta Air Lines. Guardian sponsors are The Atlantan/Modern Luxury, WarnerBros.Discovery, Davis, Pickren, Seydel, & Sneed, and The Eunjae Kim & Arturo Peralta-Ramos Family Trust. Hero sponsors are Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Cox Media, EJF Philanthropies, Georgia Natural Gas, Genuine Parts Company, Jane Smith Turner Foundation, J.P. Morgan Wealth Management, Kellogg Garden Products, Moore Charitable Foundation, Nomadic Expeditions, Novelis, Patt Mitchell & Scott Seydel, Stacey & Don Leebern III, Squish Food, Ted Montana Grill, Turner Enterprises Inc, Turner Foundation Inc., and Voya Financial. Champion Sponsors include Cherry Street Energy, Gay Browne / Greenopia, the Georgia Aquarium, Kristi & Paul Beckler, Legendary Events, the National Society of High School Scholars, Park Place, and TRRU Productions/AVLS.