Young Leaders Award

A cash award of up to $75,000 and a year-long program that supports visionary, young leaders who are innovating for our planet.

Uplifting the next generation of environmental Changemakers.

The Young Leaders
Award aims to:

The Young Leaders Award aims to:

Fund and support youth leadership while allowing awardees to pursue their environmental passions.

Cultivate a community of Changemakers while amplifying their voices.

Inspire the public to take action in the conservation and regeneration of our planet.

Young Leaders Receive

Funding

Awardees receive up to $75,000 USD to support the exploration and development of their early-stage sustainability ideas, projects, organizations, and businesses.

Leadership Development

The ability to grow as a leader through mentorship, coaching, and learning opportunities.

Based on the proven MIT Venture Mentor Services program, each Young Leader is assigned a team of three to five mentors with varied backgrounds and expertise whom they meet virtually once per month to provide specific and tailored support to accelerate the development of each project and the growth of each leader.

Young Leaders Award Recipients

Lauren Castelino
Win Cowger
Serena Mendizable
Brayan Cruz
Tez Steinberg
Jack Hanson
Abhay Sachal
Keenan Adams
Wawa Gatheru
Sage Lenier
Miswar Syed
Suzanne Pierre, Ph.D.
Lauren Castelino
Win Cowger
Serena Mendizable
Brayan Cruz
Tez Steinberg
Jack Hanson
Abhay Sachal
Keenan Adams
Wawa Gatheru
Sage Lenier
Miswar Syed
Suzanne Pierre, Ph.D.
Jade Algarin
Allison Begalman
Dyson Chee
Mackenzie Feldman
Jasmin Graham
Apurva Iyengar
Amanda Sun
Pooja Tilvawala
James "Rollie" Williams
Benjamin Wong
Turner Wyatt
AY Young
Jade Algarin
Allison Begalman
Dyson Chee
Mackenzie Feldman
Jasmin Graham
Apurva Iyengar
Amanda Sun
Pooja Tilvawala
James "Rollie" Williams
Benjamin Wong
Turner Wyatt
AY Young

Collaborating Organizations

Walking Softer partners with climate, environmental, and grassroots organizations to find exceptional young leaders. We work with partners so that we can identify and elevate strong leaders who have an impact across a diverse array of organizations, companies, and communities

View List

ACE: Action for the Climate Emergency

The Ecology Center

Surfrider Foundation

Upcycled Food Association

Masters of the Envionment: University of Colorado Boulder

Greenhouse

ClimateScience

Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals

Re:Wild

Algalita

Yea! Impact

Center for Scholars & Storytellers

Etho Capital

Future Coalition

Stanford University

Naaee: North American Association for Environmental Education

Do you know a passionate young leader who is working on solutions for the betterment of our planet?

The Young Leaders Award is seeking a well-rounded cohort with a mix of representation across geographies, backgrounds, and approaches to sustainability and regeneration. We encourage interested organizations to contact us to learn more about the Young Leaders Award nomination process. Currently, only leaders based in the US and Canada are eligible.

Please email awards@walkingsofter.org to get involved.

Applications for the 2024-2025 cohort are closed.

The Changemakers

Young Leaders Award Recipients, Cohort 2

Young Leaders Award Recipients, Cohort 2

On behalf of the entire Walking Softer team and the nominating organizations, we would like to congratulate our second cohort's Young Leaders Award recipients.

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Fast Fashion Is Ruining Merch | Climate Town

Fast Fashion Is Ruining Merch | Climate Town

Young Leaders Award recipient Rollie Williams dives into the realm of merchandise, examining what it takes to produce it sustainably and ethically.

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Changemaker Spotlight - Sea Change

Changemaker Spotlight - Sea Change

Rowing Around Great Britain Collecting Data and Stories for Nature and Climate.

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10 Social Impact Solutions Spotlighted at Global Citizen NOW

10 Social Impact Solutions Spotlighted at Global Citizen NOW

Global Citizen is driving urgent action to tackle the world’s greatest challenges and end extreme poverty within our lifetime. During this inspiring event, Pooja learned about numerous social impact solutions, which were once ideas but have since turned into urgent action.

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Walking With - Pablos Holman

Walking With - Pablos Holman

A podcast to amplify the voices of passionate leaders who are reimagining our connection with the Earth.

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Styling with Beth Jones

Styling with Beth Jones

Watch as Beth shares exclusive insights on thrifting to reflect your individual style, all while minimizing your environmental footprint.

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Walking With - Carlos Curbelo

Walking With - Carlos Curbelo

A podcast to amplify the voices of passionate leaders who are reimagining our connection with Earth.

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Meet 10 Changemakers from ChangeNOW

Meet 10 Changemakers from ChangeNOW

There were many amazing individuals at ChangeNow! Here are 10 standouts that are accelerating our transition to a sustainable world.

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ChangeNOW with Pooja Tilvawala

ChangeNOW with Pooja Tilvawala

ChangeNOW 2024 recently took place in Paris - curious how it went? Dive in with Pooja Tilvawala, the Ambassador of Change for Walking Softer, as she shares an exclusive insider's perspective on how ChangeNow is accelerating the transition to a sustainable world.

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Changemaker Spotlight - Mackenzie Feldman

Changemaker Spotlight - Mackenzie Feldman

Mackenzie and her team at Re:wild Your Campus are on a mission to eliminate synthetic pesticides from all school campuses in the U.S. by 2030.

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Beyond The Haze

Beyond The Haze

Good Climate News: March

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Thank You To Our Inaugural YLA Cohort

Thank You To Our Inaugural YLA Cohort

As the first year of the Young Leaders Award program has come to an end, our awe and gratitude remain front and center.

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2023 Impact Report

2023 Impact Report

As we look ahead, we wish to express our gratitude for accompanying us on this journey. Your participation has played a pivotal role in fostering a healthier future for our planet.

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Walking With - Rollie Williams

Walking With - Rollie Williams

A podcast to amplify the voices of passionate leaders who are reimagining our connection with Earth.

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Cycling for Change

Cycling for Change

Spencer McCullough's bike journey to all 51 national parks to influence policy

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Walking With - Joel David Moore

Walking With - Joel David Moore

A podcast to amplify the voices of passionate leaders who are reimagining our connection with Earth.

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10 Steps To Reduce And Combat Air Pollution

10 Steps To Reduce And Combat Air Pollution

Reducing and combating air pollution is crucial for the well-being of both humans and the environment.

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Climate Town: Chicago Doesn’t Own Its Own Streets

Climate Town: Chicago Doesn’t Own Its Own Streets

Young Leaders Award recipient continues his Climate Town series with an in-depth look at how Chicago gave up control of their streets.

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Burning Hot Takes

Burning Hot Takes

We presented a set of unconventional and thought-provoking climate questions to the recipients of Walking Softer's Young Leaders Award to observe their impromptu reactions.

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Walking With - Tighe Brown

Walking With - Tighe Brown

A podcast to amplify the voices of passionate leaders who are reimagining our connection with the Earth.

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10 Steps to Reduce Plastic Pollution

10 Steps to Reduce Plastic Pollution

Plastic pollution is a significant environmental issue that has harmful effects on ecosystems and human health. Here are 10 ways you can help limit your plastic pollution.

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Young Leaders Award Inaugural Cohort Retreat

Young Leaders Award Inaugural Cohort Retreat

The Young Leaders Award is a year-long program that supports passionate, young leaders who are vital agents of change and innovators of solutions for our planet.

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10 Steps to Create a Sustainable Wardrobe

10 Steps to Create a Sustainable Wardrobe

Sustainable fashion is crucial because it considers the environmental and social impacts of the clothing industry. By promoting eco-friendly practices, sustainable fashion helps reduce the immense carbon footprint caused by traditional fast fashion manufacturing processes.

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Climate Town - America's Stupidest Parking Secret

Climate Town - America's Stupidest Parking Secret

Young Leaders Award recipient, Rollie Williams, has a new Climate Town episode where he discusses "a sneaky little law in almost every city in the United States that forces private businesses and residences to build way more parking than they actually need." Hit play for some outright hilarious commentary on this issue... did you know there are approximately 1 billion parking spaces in America? That's four spaces per car and it's increasing with every new development!

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My Experience: Jacob Alder and the Young Leaders Award Retreat

My Experience: Jacob Alder and the Young Leaders Award Retreat

My experience at Walking Softer’s Inaugural Young Leader retreat provided me with much-needed respite. I am often overwhelmed by the insurmountable devastation that climate change, biodiversity loss, and rampant global inequality pose to each of us fellow travelers on our worldly home - Turtle Island, Spaceship Earth. Yet, for two grateful days at Riverbend Ranch, I found peace and gratitude in the sage, pine, aspen, birdsong, and flowing Weber - Jacob Alder

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AY Young - 2030 Official Music Video

AY Young - 2030 Official Music Video

Check out the new music video for "2030" by sustainable recording artist and Walking Softer Young Leaders Award recipient AY Young.

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Education All-Stars Competition

Education All-Stars Competition

Congratulations to University City High School in San Diego, California for winning our inaugural All-Stars competition.

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Stop The Perpetual Plastic Machine

Stop The Perpetual Plastic Machine

Young Leaders Award recipient Von Wong constructed a colossal 15-foot tall art installation laying out the toxic union of fossil fuels and plastic production.

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Checking In With AY Young

Checking In With AY Young

Young Leaders Award Recipient AY Young is a producer, singer, songwriter, entertainer, and entrepreneur. He first began writing poetry at 14, a reaction to the great disparity in Kansas City known as “the Troost divide”. While touring the USA, AY learned that over 1 billion people lack access to electricity. So AY began powering concerts using renewable energy, raising awareness about sustainability, and fundraising to bring people electricity.

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Checking In With Turner Wyatt

Checking In With Turner Wyatt

Young Leaders Award recipient Turner Wyatt is a social entrepreneur focused on reducing food waste and improving our environment and economy. Turner is the co-founder of four award-winning organizations: Denver Food Rescue, Bondadosa, Fresh Food Connect, and Upcycled Food Association.

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Checking In WIth Von Wong

Checking In WIth Von Wong

Young Leaders Award recipient Von Wong's work lies at the intersection of fantasy and photography and combines everyday objects with shocking statistics. It has attracted the attention of corporations, like Starbucks, Dell, and Nike, and has generated over 100 million views for causes like ocean plastics, electronic waste, and fashion pollution.

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Checking In With Rollie Williams

Checking In With Rollie Williams

YLA recipient Rollie Williams is a Brooklyn-based comedian, video editor, and guy with both student debt and a Climate Science & Policy degree from Columbia University. He is the creator and host of the digital comedy series Climate Town which has been described as a low-budget Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. Over the past two years, the channel has amassed 421,000 subscribers, over 10 million video views, and has won a handful of digital video awards.

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Think Of The Mother

Think Of The Mother

We need more changemakers to address the unsustainable impact people are having on all societies and species. Walking Softer is on a mission to inform, inspire, and support change makers to take bold and immediate action in the conservation and regeneration of our planet... How will you reimagine our world?

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Checking In With Pooja Tilvawala

Checking In With Pooja Tilvawala

Young Leaders Award recipient Pooja Tilvawala is a climate justice community connector who was born in India, but grew up in the US. She has degrees in Economics and International Studies and first worked at the Meridian Institute to advance ocean policy in Mexico and federal climate policy in the US, form alliances to act on plastic pollution, and more.

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Checking In With Amanda Sun

Checking In With Amanda Sun

Young Leaders Award recipient Amanda Sun studies computer science and environmental studies at Dartmouth College. She is the founder and executive director of Green2Go, advisor of Environmental Students of Dartmouth, and a Youth Leadership Councilor on EarthEcho International.

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Checking In With Apurva Iyengar

Checking In With Apurva Iyengar

Apurva Iyengar is a 20 year old environmental activist and changemaker based in Boston. She is focused on creating a more cohesive and effective youth climate strategy and broadening access to this movement for young people around the world through her non-profit Youth.ify.

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Food Rescue for the Environment

Food Rescue for the Environment

A Q&A with Ali Dunford, Founder of Hole Food Rescue in Jackson, Wyoming.

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Checking In With Jasmin Graham

Checking In With Jasmin Graham

Jasmin’s work encompasses the areas of science communication, social justice, outreach, education, and conservation. She cares deeply about protecting endangered and vulnerable marine species, particularly elasmobranchs.

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Checking In With Mackenzie Feldman

Checking In With Mackenzie Feldman

Young Leaders Award recipient Mackenzie Feldman is an environmental activist from Honolulu, Hawai'i. She is the Founder and Director of Re:wild Your Campus, an organization that works with students and groundskeepers around the country to advocate for an end to the spraying of synthetic herbicides at schools and a transition to organic land management.

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Von Wong's Skull Of Satoshi

Von Wong's Skull Of Satoshi

Meet the 11-foot skull that Young Leaders Award recipient Von Wong built to terminate Bitcoin’s impact on climate change.

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Checking In With Dyson Chee

Checking In With Dyson Chee

Young Leaders Award recipient Dyson Chee is a youth activist living on the Hawaiian Island of Oʻahu. In 2018, Dyson founded Project O.C.E.A.N. Hawaii to take on single-use plastics, and since 2019 he has been serving as a director for the Hawaiʻi Youth Climate Coalition.

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Checking In With Allison Begalman

Checking In With Allison Begalman

Young Leaders Award recipient Allison Begalman is the CEO of YEA! Impact, the co-founder of Young Entertainment Activists (YEA!), as well as the co-founder and EP of the annual Hollywood Climate Summit.

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Checking In With Jade Algarin

Checking In With Jade Algarin

Young Leaders Award recipient Jade Algarín is a community organizer and agriculturalist from Vieques, Puerto Rico.

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Young Leaders Award Recipients

Young Leaders Award Recipients

On behalf of the entire Walking Softer team and the nominating organizations, we would like to congratulate the Young Leaders Award recipients.

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Walk With Us

Walk With Us

With eight billion people on the planet deserving a quality life, we must reinvent how we live - our endless cycle of hyper-consumption with a use, trash, repeat mentality must be challenged.

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