American Climate Leadership Awards for High School Students 2024

New Category for High School Students Making Change in Their Local Communities

New in 2024! ecoAmerica is launching a new High School Student award category in 2024: the American Climate Leadership Awards (ACLA) for High School Students. Read about the semifinalists HERE.

Watch the American Climate Leadership Awards 2024 on April 10 by registering today. The ACLA broadcast will feature the esteemed ACLA Selection Committee, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, and other VIPs. 

Promoted with the support of youth climate leaders, non-profits, teachers, principals associations, guidance counselors, and school boards nationally, ecoAmerica is providing $125,000 in prizes for high school students, clubs, classes, teacher-sponsored programs, and student-led nonprofits working to make progress at the local level. 


ACLA for High School Students will award prizes for individuals and initiatives with proven success broadening local participation in building public engagement and/or political will for climate action, advocacy, preparedness, or resilience.

The submissions will be judged by peers, recent graduates, youth climate leaders, and climate advocates. Applicants’ work can range in scope from their school to their neighborhood, city, or state. 

Meet the Judges

Jasilyn Charger
7th Defenders

Hannah Estrada
Youth Vs Apocalypse

Daphne Frias
Climate Advocate

Nancy Metzger-Carter
Schools for Climate Action

Alexandria Villaseñor
Earth Uprising

ACLA for High School Students Judge Hannah Estrada welcomes applications for the inaugural high school students awards.

Apply or Nominate today!

Learn More About the Awards

+What will the winners receive?

Semifinalists will be recognized with cash prizes:

  • Semifinalists will receive $5,000 each in recognition of their efforts. 
  • Finalists will receive $10,000 each to further their work.
  • Winner will receive a total of $25,000.

The semifinalists, finalists, and winner will receive prominent recognition 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 15 deadline. High school students and their adult sponsor, working at the local level, are invited to submit an application. The adult sponsor must be involved in the project in a formal capacity (teacher, school administrator, advisor), and have the authority to verify the application contents. 
  • Nominate – If you know of someone who you believe qualifies for this award, please nominate them, and we will invite them to apply. 
  • Finalists – After reviewing all applications, the most promising submissions will be recognized and asked to submit videos to be considered for the final round. (To secure your spot as a semifinalist and be considered for a finalist or winner status, you will be asked to submit a video for the second round of the application.) These individuals, schools, and organizations will be promoted in ecoAmerica communications and online, receiving recognition for their progress thus far in the awards process. From this group, finalists will be selected and one will be selected as the winner. All finalists and the winner will be announced in an awards ceremony in Spring 2024. 

+What are the eligibility requirements?

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

  • Demonstrated leadership and success engaging a broader diversity of Americans to build public support and political resolve for climate solutions, including mitigation, sustainability, climate advocacy, preparedness, and resilience.
  • A strong track record of effective climate action, including clear program objectives, tactics, and measurable results. 
  • Successful programs or initiatives on a local level that can be replicated by others on a local level. This includes state-level work. 
  • Reached new audiences: We welcome applications from across the country, from all communities, and in particular applications from local communities. We encourage applications from schools, students, and school organizations working to bring in or include audiences who are new to climate action.
  • Current programming (plans for future programs will not be considered). 

An adult sponsor who verifies your application is required to qualify for the awards.

+How will my application be evaluated?

The submissions will be judged by peers, recent graduates, youth climate leaders, and climate advocates 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, increase advocacy, or advance sustainability, preparedness, or resilience.
  • Reaching new audiences: effectiveness in bringing in or including audiences who are new to climate action.

+Who should apply?

  • High school groups and high school clubs working on climate at the local level. 
  • Individual high schoolers who are employing innovative methods to broaden participation of Americans in climate change solutions locally.
  • Outstanding high school-led nonprofits that have demonstrably moved their communities, organizations, or constituencies to effective climate action and advocacy, including community, health, faith, youth, rural, conservative, and other organizations. 
  • High school-led for profits with initiatives to build support for climate action with their stakeholders.

+Where can I learn more about past winners?

This is the first year we are holding the high school students awards. You can learn more about the 2023 ACLA finalists here

Awards Timeline

Timeline of the awards process: 

Sept 18 Awards Application Live. 

Nov 1 Nominations Deadline. 

Dec 15 Applications Due. 

Jan - Feb 2024 Judging Period.

Spring 2024 Finalists Announced.

+Awards 2024 Timeline 

  • Sept 18 Awards Application Live 
  • Nov 1 Nominations Deadline 
  • Dec 15 Applications Due 
  • Jan – Feb 2024 Judging Period
  • Spring 2024 Finalists Announced 

Help get the word out! Share award details with your network on social media.
Click HERE for the ACLA 2024 Social Toolkit

Not a high school student? Learn about the American Climate Leadership Awards HERE.

For more information: acla@ecoamerica.org