Berkeley, CA (September 13, 2022) — The New Leaders Initiative of Earth Island Institute announces the six recipients of this year’s Brower Youth Awards. The winners will be honored at an in-person ceremony at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, California, on October 18, 2022. This is the 23rd year of the annual Brower Youth Awards, the premier environmental youth award in the country.
From local restoration initiatives to divestment campaigns, this year’s awardees are tackling some of the biggest environmental challenges of our time.
“The Brower Youth Awards is always an inspiring and uplifting event, a great opportunity for young environmental leaders and supporters to come together and look toward a bright future,” said Mona Shomali, director of the New Leaders Initiative.
Earth Island Institute, an environmental nonprofit based in Berkeley, California, has been hosting the Brower Youth Awards, named in honor of the organization’s founder, legendary environmentalist David Brower, through its New Leaders Initiative program.
The New Leaders Initiative provides cutting-edge, innovative programming to help build the capacity of young, emerging environmental activists throughout the United States. Every year, six young people based in North America are each awarded a cash prize of $3,000.
This year’s winners are:
Ilana Cohen, 21
Organizing for Fossil Fuel Divestment
In 2018 Ilana Cohen cofounded the New York City chapter of the national youth climate justice coalition, Zero Hour, and organized one of the nation’s first Youth Climate March. As a first-year student at Harvard University, she helped relaunch the Divest Harvard campaign, which secured a historic victory last fall when the university pledged to divest its $53 billion endowment from the fossil fuel industry. Cohen has since cofounded Fossil Free Research, an international campaign uniting students, academics, and experts against the toxic influence of Big Oil money on climate change research. Read more.
Lauren U.C. Ejiaga, 17
New Orleans, Louisiana
Supporting Education in Louisiana
When she was in eighth grade, Lauren U.C. Ejiaga created a science fair project on the impact of ozone depletion on Louisiana’s marsh grasses that won a top prize at the national STEM competition. And as a cohort leader for the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Ejiaga founded multiple native plant restoration projects. Read more.
Amara Ifeji, 20
Bringing New Voices into the Environmental Movement
Amara Ifeji recognized early on that her passion for the environment was something those in marginalized communities like her own often had little opportunity to explore. So, in 2018, she started facilitating environmental learning opportunities for fellow students of color at her high school. Ifeji went on to become one of the directors of the Maine Environmental Changemakers Network, an intergenerational group of 400-plus youth from diverse backgrounds that advocates for a more just, inclusive, and equitable environmental movement. Read more.
Raghav Kalyanaraman, 17
Restoring the North Texas Prairie Ecosystem
Over the past two years, high-school senior Raghav Kalyanaraman has worked with youth volunteers to restore North Texas’ Blackland Prairie Ecosystem. Earlier this year, he founded the nonprofit Eagles For Environment to unite his community around prairie restoration work. Read more.
Hamid Torabzadeh, 17
Long Beach, California
Advancing Disaster Preparedness and Environmental Justice
Hamid Torabzadeh has been working to expand youth and young adults’ roles in alleviating human suffering in the face of increasing climate and public health disasters. Read more.
Annika Weber, 18
Pushing for Carbon Neutrality
In early 2021, Annika Weber cofounded the Northwest School Carbon Neutrality Task Force, a group of students, parents, and faculty who researched how her high school could become carbon neutral by 2030. Her school is now in the final process of adopting the task force’s recommendations, and could soon be the first K-12 school in the country to set a carbon neutrality goal that doesn’t use carbon offsets. Read more.
While the Brower Youth Awards is the New Leaders Initiative’s flagship event, the program’s core goal is to support young environmental activists throughout the year. New Leaders Initiative provides youth with several programs, including fellowships, microgrants, webinars, networking events, and access to resources and relationships that will help them lead and sustain successful campaigns and projects.
Images and video clips of the winners are available to the media upon request. The winners are also available for interviews. For more information, please contact Sharon Donovan, communications director, Earth Island Institute, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-859-9161.