2023 American Climate Leadership Awards Winners Announced

What do youth, Unitarians, Moms, Marylanders, worker cooperatives, Hawaiians, physicians, farmers, and corporate employees have in common, when it comes to addressing climate change? Well, plenty in 2023!

ecoAmerica is pleased to announce winner, Mississippi’s Cooperation Jackson and runner-up Mothers Out Front. This year’s finalists included extraordinary efforts in climate justice programming, K-12 climate change curriculum, employees organizing for change, engaging through agriculture, a network of worker cooperatives seeking climate reparations, moms coming together for their children’s future, and physicians caring for migrants impacted by our changing climate.

Finalists each received $10,000, the runner-up received $25,000, and the winner $50,000. The finalists were celebrated — and the runner-up and winner announced — during the awards broadcast on March 30, 2023. American actress and climate activist Jane Fonda was also be featured as this year’s inaugural Climate Crusader award recipient.

Congratulations to the ten 2023 American Climate Leadership Award finalists (in alphabetical order)

  • Amazon Employees for Climate Justice
  • Chesapeake Climate Action Network: Electrify MoCo Campaign
  • Climate Generation: Improving Nationwide Climate Change Education, Our Teach Climate Network
  • Cooperation Jackson: Jackson Just Transition Plan *WINNER*
  • Hawaii Green Growth UN Local 2030 Hub
  • Migrant Clinicians Network: Meeting the Needs of Vulnerable Populations Impacted by Climate Change
  • Mothers Out Front: Organizing For a Livable Climate for All *RUNNER-UP*
  • The Wild Center: Youth Climate Program
  • Unitarian Universalist Association: Climate Justice programming
  • Zumwalt Acres: A Regenerative Agriculture Community

Four years in, ACLA is recognizing climate action at levels that invites people in their communities to participate. This year’s finalists reflect an exciting evolution of the climate movement, winning new audiences and influencing stakeholders at every level in ways that are replicable for others to follow. Whereas tackling greenhouse gas emissions was one center of gravity in the past, these finalists are demonstrating that focusing on justice and young people is what is moving the needle.

Exemplary 2023 Selection Committee: This year’s judges includes international environmental advocate and eco-living expert Laura Turner Seydel, 35th Mayor of Salt Lake City Jackie Biskupski, Hip Hop Caucus President and CEO Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., Earth Uprising Founder Alexandria Villaseñor, Actor and Environmental Activist and Author Ed Begley, Youth climate activist Daphne Frias, and Mothers Out Front Fresno Community Organizer LaTisha Harris. Author, activist, environmentalist and Third Act founder Bill McKibben will be chairing the Committee for the second year. 

Learn More About the Awards

What will the winners receive?

30 applicants will be recognized with cash awards. 

  • 20 semifinalists will receive $1,000 in recognition of their efforts. 
  • 8 finalists will receive a total of $10,000 to further your work.
  • One runner up will receive a total of $25,000. 
  • One winner will receive a total of $50,000.

The finalists, runner up and winner will receive prominent recognition at the American Climate Leadership Summit 2023 and in key communications before, during, and after the event including social and traditional media.

How do you apply?

  • Apply – Any eligible individual or organization can submit an application using this form by the December 15th deadline. Whether you are deepening your work in one community or scaling your program nationally, we invite you to apply to showcase your climate leadership. 
  • Nominate – If you know of a climate hero that you believe is deserving of this award, please nominate them, and we will invite them to apply. 
  • Top 30 – After reviewing all applications, 30 of the most promising submissions will be named Semifinalists, and invited to submit more detailed proposals for finalist consideration. The Top 30 Semifinalists will be promoted in ecoAmerica communications and online, receiving recognition for their progress thus far in the awards process.
  • Top 10 – Semifinalist submissions will be reviewed, and from this group, ten finalists will be selected, notified, and promoted as Finalists for the Climate Leadership Awards 2023. During the 2023 American Climate Leadership Summit, the winner and runner up will be announced live.

What are the eligibility requirements?

The American Climate Leadership Awards seeks submissions from initiatives that have: 

  • Demonstrated leadership and success in engaging a broader diversity of Americans to build public support and political resolve for climate solutions. 
  • A strong track record of effective climate action, including clear program objectives, tactics, and measurable results. 
  • Successful programs or initiatives on a local, regional, or national level that can be replicated by others on a local level.
  • Centered diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in their work.
  • For current programming only (plans for future programs will not be considered). 

How will my application be evaluated?

The Selection Committee for ACLA23 is comprised of climate experts and leaders from across a diversity of  sectors and constituencies, who will score the submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Impact and a track record of success, including measurable key success metrics.
  • Replicability, in other words, how easily another person or organization could follow your example and recreate a similar program for another region or constituency. Please share your effective tactics. 
  • Innovation, including new, novel or uniquely effective tactics. 
  • Effective storytelling including demonstrating the success of how your program built public support and/or political will to slow and/or stop climate change.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion, demonstrating how your program has centered DEI and justice and worked to dismantle racism and environmental racism.

Who should apply?

  • Transformational individuals/leaders who are employing innovative methods to engage a diversity of Americans in climate change solutions locally, regionally, and/or nationally.
  • Outstanding not-for-profits that have demonstrably moved their communities, organizations, or constituencies to effective climate action and advocacy, including community, health, faith, youth and other organizations. 
  • For profits with initiatives to build support for climate action with their stakeholders.
  • Conservation, local and rural community leaders/groups conservation leaders and organizations; local and rural communities groups; and conservative groups.

Awards 2023 Timeline 

  • Sept 15 Awards application live 
  • Dec 1 Nominations deadline 
  • Dec 15 Applications due 
  • Jan 10, 2023 Semifinalists announced 
  • Feb 1, 2023 Final proposals due from Semifinalists
  • Feb 22, 2023 10 Finalists announced 
  • Mar 30, 2023 Runner up and Winner announced 

For more information: acla@ecoamerica.org

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