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What is IDEAS For Us?

IDEAS For Us (IDEAS) began when a group of passionate university students made the choice to stop talking about environmental issues and begin the very difficult work of trying to actually solve them. Founded in June of 2008 at the University of Central Florida (UCF), IDEAS began as a student-led organization called I.D.E.A.S. – an acronym that stood for Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions. With a major focus on action, I.D.E.A.S soon gained recognition by fellow students for their tenacity and dedication to solving environmental issues on campus. In time, on and off-campus media recognized the student group for their impact and the concept organically spread around the United States.

Over the last decade, the patience, passion, and persistence of our members, staff, and volunteers have accomplished a lot. With the help of our volunteers and donors, we can continue to change the world for the better as a 501 c3 non-profit charity and United Nations Accredited non-governmental organization (NGO). We are honored to have had such generous support. The IDEAS Hive is our integral tool that we use to activate to communities to collaborate and intercommunicate to generate plans for environmental action projects. The aim is to use these monthly meetings as brainstorming platforms to connect key individuals and leaders to each other, cultivating a space for ideas to grow into real solutions to the many issues any given community may be facing. Fleet Farming is the most successful and prominent example of the Hive’s effectiveness. It was started by members of the Audubon Park community in Orlando, FL after a series of productive Hive sessions focused on the inefficiency and negative impact of food transportation systems. It has gone on to become its own fully-formed social enterprise, educating and empowering people of all ages to grow their own food and connect to the Earth. The IDEAS Solutions Fund is how we engage people to carry out action projects centered around the United Nations SDGs in order to achieve more sustainable communities. Along with the Hive, it is how we carry out our mission of developing and funding environmental action in our local home of Florida, USA and all our international branches. Real action can only be achived through planning, ambition, and mutualistic collaboration.  The movement to change the world begins with an idea.


Timeline of Milestones

Here are some highlights over the years:


  • Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions (I.D.E.A.S.)  is formed as a student club at the University of Central Florida (UCF).
  • I.D.E.A.S. is denied Registered Student Organization (RSO) status for being just another environmental club and decides to continue meeting anyway.
  • First I.D.E.A.S. action project ever held to clean-up a campus lake, now called Lake IDEAS.


  • I.D.E.A.S. becomes an official RSO on UCF campus.
  • Second I.D.E.A.S. Chapter forms at Penn State.
  • I.D.E.A.S. UCF launches the “Kill-A-Watt” dorm room energy challenge saving $45,000 in 3 months, and recognized by Secretary Steven Chu of the U.S. Department of Energy.


  • First international action project held when I.D.E.A.S. teamed up with Art Creation Foundation for Children (ACFFC) in Jacmel, Haiti to host a trash clean-up and up-cycling competition to turn waste into art to be sold.
  • I.D.E.A.S. received first award from Repower America’s “CO2nsequence Campaign” winner with IDEAS getting 8th place out of 1200 in the Nation!
  • I.D.E.A.S. For UCF chapter helped host the first-ever Green Waves Music & Arts Festival, collected over 350 ‘Define Our Decade’ ballots helping Florida win the EAC competition
  • Six I.D.E.A.S. For UCF members get accepted to the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU)
  • I.D.E.A.S. For Miami Offshore Drilling Protest gets Front Page in Miami Herald
  • Center for American Progress (CAP) awards IDEAS with the ‘Best Campaign of the Year’ Award for 2009-2010 and a $1500 grant for T-totes: A Plastic Bag Reduction campaign turning T-shirts into reusable Tote bags with the help of Solar Power.
  • I.D.E.A.S. energy saving project, Kill-a-Watt, saves over $21,000 and 74,000 kWh at Florida International University (FIU)
  • I.D.E.A.S. For UCF wins first governmental award with Orange County Government’s ‘Green Leaf Award for Environmental Excellence’.
  • IDEAS For Us incorporates as a non-profit organization in Florida, USA.


  • I.D.E.A.S. Chapters spanning across 5 universities participated in Powershift 2011 Conference in Washington DC. The UCF Chapter went above and beyond, by taking 40 members in a Veggie Powered School bus from Orlando to DC and back.
  • Florida Wildlife Federation (FWF) names IDEAS the ‘2011 Conservation Organization of the Year’.
  • I.D.E.A.S. UCF wins Hewlett Packard (HP) “Green Your School Challenge” Competition.
  • The U.S. White House Office of Public Engagement gives I.D.E.A.S. For UCF the “Champions of Change” Award. (http://whitehouse.gov/champions)
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) award I.D.E.A.S. as an official “Energy Star Partner.”
  • I.D.E.A.S. leaders invent the concept of the Five Pillars of Sustainability (Energy, Water, Food, Waste, and Ecology) to set I.D.E.A.S. programmatic focus.
  • I.D.E.A.S. spreads to 11 campuses in the United States and evolves into IDEAS For Us (IDEAS)
  • IDEAS files for 501 (c)(3) paperwork and the first Board of Directors assembles (Chris Castro, Clayton Louis Ferrara, Henry Harding III, Scott Minos, Viktor El-Saieh, and Arturo Romero).


  • In May of 2012, IDEAS was honored with official accreditation as a NGO (Non Governmental Organization) by the United Nations.
  • IDEAS leader, Terry Hershner made world history when he traveled from Orlando, Florida to Manchester, Tennessee on an all electric motorcycle. The three day trip marked the farthest distance anyone had ever gone on an all electric Motorcycle in the world until… he did it again but this time went from Orlando to California!
  • First ever IDEAS Summit 2012 held in St. Petersberg, Florida with over 40 attendees from 8 IDEAS chapters in the South East.
  • IDEAS reaches 10,000+ fans on Facebook


  • IDEAS becomes an official 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and Chris Castro leaves board to be named the first Executive Director of IDEAS.
  • IDEAS speaks at the 2013 United Nations Global Youth Assembly in Manhattan United Nations Headquarters, in both January and August of 2013.
  • President Bill Clinton recognizes IDEAS at 2013 UCF Graduation Commencement Speech and praises their efforts.
  • IDEAS leaders travel to the International Economics Congress in Berlin, Germany to speak on the importance of the Sustainable Transition in energy and energy policy.
  • In February, IDEAS flagship program, a monthly, community think/do tank called “The Hive”, is invented in Orlando, Florida.
  • IDEAS hosts International Green Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  •  IDEAS becomes an official host organization for the United States Department of State program called International Research Exchange (IREX) and the first organization in Orlando history to be in the IREX program.
  • IDEAS welcomes their first ever IREX Fellow from Liberia, Stephen B. Lavalah.


  • IDEAS For Mexico wins best Earth Day event for youth conference and clean-up in Guadalajara.


  • Clayton Louis Ferrara becomes Executive Director and Chris Castro returns to Board of Directors.
  • The Hive Orlando produced a carbon negative, pedal powered urban food model called Fleet Farming to grow food and not lawns.
  • IDEAS welcomes their second IREX Fellow from Tanzania, Rutta B. Waziri (bulb shirt).
  • IDEAS brought students and staff to the People’s Climate March in Manhattan, New York to participate in the largest climate march in human history.
  • IDEAS wins IREX Grant to travel to Liberia to launch “Building a Sustainable Liberia” development project.


  • IDEAS welcomes their third IREX Fellow from Nepal, Tika Ram “Santosh” Poudel.
  • U.S. State Department’s Community Solutions Program (IREX) recognizes IDEAS as “2015 Host Organization of the Year” for hosting Santosh Podel (Nepal) and Marcos Woortmann (Brazil).
  • Fleet Farming Orlando expands operations to 12 Farmlettes, selling over 700 lbs of Fleet Greens and also scales to Oakland, California.
  • IDEAS For FIU leader Chole Castro raises over $80,000 to install 20kW solar PV array and full indoor LED lighting retrofit on Camillus House homeless shelter in Miami. The project wins 2nd place for 2015 Solar Builder Project of the Year Award.
  • IDEAS launches the Solutions Fund and begins operations as a micro-granting platform.
  • IDEAS For Democratic Republic of the Congo plants over 3,000 trees with the help of 300 school children in a single day.
  • IDEAS For Uganda hosts IDEAS leader Justin Vandenbroeck for a 3-week intensive rural electrification training and market development campaign. Together they held 15 workshops and educated 500 rural Ugandans on local solutions to energy poverty.
  • On July, 1st, IDEAS opens their official Global Headquarters in Downtown Orlando, Florida.


  • President of IDEAS For Us, Chris Castro and Executive Director, Clayton Louis Ferrara, host a Hive at the United Nations headquarters in Manhattan, New York in August of 2016.
  • IDEAS For the Democratic Republic of the Congo holds a campus wide Reforestation Event at Wima High School
  • IDEAS For Uganda receives a donation from a member of Ugandan Parliament to create a tree nursery. They then plant over 3,000 trees as part of a reforestation effort the day after Christmas 2016.
  • The Solutions Fund Rehabilitates a well in Western Somalia, bringing water to over 600 children and their families.
  • IDEAS gives away over 300 native trees during their inaugural “Walk for Trees” event in Orlando, Florida on April 10 celebrating trees and zero carbon means of travel.
  • IDEAS wins 2016 IREX grant to travel to Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal to set up IDEAS student groups and host the first Hive Nepal in Pokhara. Six IDEAS For Nepal groups are stared at colleges and medical schools in Nepal as a result of the trip.
  • IDEAS Executive Director is invited to participate in a three day workshop at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at the Vatican in Rome. He meets with Pope Francis and IDEAS flagship program, “The Hive”, receives the Solution Award from the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN).
  • IDEAS joins United Nations SDSN & the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data as Champion Partner in forwarding the SDGs by taking action and helping to fill a data gap with our hyper-local projects.
  • IDEAS For Liberia (YES) holds Children’s Ocean Day Beach Clean-Up event and removes hundreds of pounds of plastic, styrofoam, and other human-made debris from the shore line.
  • The IDEAS Solutions Fund provides a microgrant for a “Clean Water for Schools” project in Uganda using clay filters to provide safe drinking water for 50+ students in elementary school.
  • Fleet Farming goes viral in two languages, with over 30 million views from NBC Nightly News, NPR, Smithsonian Magazine, Treehugger, NowThis, UpWorthy, and many more.
  • IDEAS visits the White House for a Champions of Change reunion and receives a holiday card from President Obama.
  • In August, IDEAS welcomes John Bosco Gakumba as the 2016 US Department of State IREX Scholar from Kigali, Rwanda working on Environmental Policy.
  • IDEAS For Uganda wins MIT Climate CoLab for Vertical Micro Gardening (VMG) and Hult Prize Winner
  • IDEAS Ambassador, Kehkashan Basu receives the 2016 International Children’s Peace Prize Award for her work as a youth leader forwarding social and environmental progress around the world.
  • IDEAS launches a completely new website intended to inspire our membership to develop their ideas into projects, apply to the solutions fund for microgrants, and take local action to scale IDEAS Solutions.


  • IDEAS launches Solutions Fund to 30 projects in 2017, funding local sustainability projects in more than 14 countries around the World.
  • IDEAS receives “Observer Status” by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
  • IDEAS receives USDA grant with City of Orlando to expand Fleet Farming into Parramore and West Orlando communities.
  • IDEAS embarks on their IREX international expedition, this time to Kigali, Rwanda.
  • IDEAS co-launches the “First 50 Coalition” in the City of Orlando, a coalition of local community groups, nonprofits, and faith-based institutions working together to advance sustainability in Orlando
  • IDEAS Executive Director, Clayton Louis Ferrara, travels to the Vatican Youth Summit to speak about The Hive, and meet Pope Francis for second year in a row.
  • IDEAS participates in the United Nation Youth Assembly at the UN Headquarters in New York.

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