Announcing the 2021 American Climate Leadership Awards Semifinalists

There are good reasons to believe 2021 will be a blockbuster year for action on climate change. In that spirit, ecoAmerica is pleased to share hopeful and uplifting news — the announcement of the 2021 American Climate Leadership Awards Semifinalists! The 30 semifinalists will delight you, displaying an impressive mix of local, state, regional and national champions for action on climate change. These change agents have brought forth impactful programs in the midst of concurrent pandemics, offering inspiration for anyone seeking to make progress on climate solutions.

ACLA21, hosted by ecoAmerica, recognizes, rewards, and shares best practices on climate change advocacy and action in America. We are proud to offer money, support, and national recognition to climate leaders and organizations building political resolve for climate action at local, regional, and national levels, particularly those who center diversity, inclusion, and justice in their work. 

$155,000 in CASH AWARDS



This year’s semifinalists span a broad spectrum of climate action and advocacy in America including representation from health, faith, local communities, youth, indigenous and business  — and hailing from a diversity of states including California, Connecticut, Florida, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. 

These semifinalists will now compete for the top ten finalist spots, selected by March 15, 2021 and each awarded $10,000. A runner up (receiving a total of $25,000) and the winner (receiving a total of $50,000) will be announced live at the American Climate Leadership Awards Gala on April 27, 2021, during the American Climate Leadership Summit.

Like the Oscars, the American Climate Leadership Awards 2021 Gala will be a live, virtual broadcast extravaganza. So, join us for the big unveil this spring! Gather your friends, neighbors, and family to see the finalists, celebrate their triumphs, and cheer them on.

*The semifinalists include:, American Academy of Pediatrics, Children’s Environmental Health Network, City of Ann Arbor, Clean Air Carolina, Climate Action Campaign, Community Environmental Council, Earth Charter Indiana, Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions, Future Coalition, Giniw Collective, Green Chalice of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), GreenRoots, Inc, Growing Climate Solutions: Path to Positive SWFL, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, Institute for Sustainable Communities, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), Jerome Foster (One Million of Us), Mothers Out Front, National Indian Health Board, New York Youth Climate Leaders, Our Climate Education Fund, Philly Thrive, Reverend Stephanie M. Johnson, Solutions from the Land, Sunrise Movement Education Fund, United Church of Christ and People’s Justice Council, Utah Clean Energy, Vermont Energy Education Program (VEEP), and Youth Vs. Apocalypse.

Prestigious Awards Committee

The 2021 Selection Committee includes Climate Hero Gus Speth, Executive Director of USCAN Keya Chatterjee, APHA President Georges Benjamin, MD, 35th Mayor of Salt Lake City Jackie Biskupski, Harvard School of public health and environment Professor of Environmental Epidemiology and Physiology Marc Weisskopf, Executive Director of To Nizhoni Ani Nicole Horseherder and Green Muslims Climate Change Advocate Sofia Gilani. White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy will be chairing the Committee again this year.

Watch the 2020 awards on-demand to hear from Selection Committee Chair Gina McCarthy, see short videos featuring the finalists, and watch the announcement of the runner up and winner HERE. Take a look at 2020’s top 10 finalists HERE.

Learn More About the Awards

What will the winners receive?

10 finalists will receive: 

  • $10,000 to further your work.   
  • Prominent recognition at the American Climate Leadership Summit 2021 and in key communications before, during, and after the event.
  • Media coverage, including social and traditional media. 

One runner up will receive a total of $25,000. And, the winner will receive a total of $50,000! Both will be announced live during the awards ceremony at ACLS 2021. 

How do you apply?

  • Apply – Any eligible individual or organization can submit an application using this form by the December 15 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 here, and we will invite them to apply. If you’re an applicant, feel free to ask your mentors to nominate you as well.
  • 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 2021. During the 2021 American Climate Leadership Summit, the winner and runner-up will be announced live in front of several hundred attendees. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

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

  • Demonstrated leadership on climate change, specifically those who have successfully engaged Americans to build public support and political resolve for climate solutions.A strong track record of positive climate action, including clear program objectives, effective tactics, and measurable results. 
  • Successful programs or initiatives that can be replicated by others with success.
  • Centered diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in their work.
  • Are for current programming only (plans for future programs will not be considered). 

How will my application be evaluated?

The Selection Committee for ACLA21, shown here, 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.
  • Diversity, equity, and inclusion, demonstrating how your program has centered DEI and justice and worked to dismantle racism and environmental racism 

The Committee will also consider secondary criteria including:

  • 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

More information can be found on the application form

Who should apply?

    • Transformational leaders who are employing innovative methods to engage a diversity of Americans in climate change solutions locally, regionally, or nationally.
    • Individuals and not for profit entities, including but not limited to those who engage or represent local communities, health, faith, and youth constituencies. 

Awards 2021 Timeline 

  • Dec 15 Applications due 
  • Jan 15, 2021 30 Semifinalists announced 
  • Feb 8, 2021 Final proposals due from Semifinalists
  • Mar 15, 2021 10 Finalists announced 
  • Apr 27, 2021 Runner up and Winner announced live at the 2021 American Climate Leadership Summit.  Apply HERE.

For more information: [email protected]

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