Brower Youth Awards

About Us

Since 2000, the New Leaders Initiative program of Earth Island Institute has provided cutting edge and innovative programming for youth leaders from across North America. The goal of all New Leaders Initiative programming is to engage, grow, and support environmental and social justice youth activists so that they can reach the highest version of themselves. Our youth programming includes fellowships, micro grants, media training, mentorship, visioning, coaching, leadership development, professional skill building, webinars, networking events, workshops, community partnerships, and access to resources and relationships to lead and sustain effective campaigns and projects.

The flagship event of the New Leaders Initiative is the Brower Youth Awards, which has recognized outstanding youth leaders who are making strides in the environmental movement. The national awards ceremony is hosted by the New Leaders Initiative and presented by Earth Island Institute.

The Brower Youth Awards has recognized 147 outstanding emerging youth leaders, representing accomplishments across the full spectrum of the environmental movement. Every year, six young people based in North America are each awarded a cash prize of $3,000. On the night of the awards ceremony, the winners’ inspiring stories are told in short documentary videos. The winners also deliver acceptance speeches about their project or campaign – inspiring environmental activism among the audience. Leading up to the award ceremony, the New Leaders Initiative provides a week-long forum that includes mentorship, training, visioning, networking, career coaching to build skills and capacity to effect change. Lastly, the program has a deep commitment to elevating voices from socio-economic and culturally diverse backgrounds so that they can move forward as successful innovators and activists.

Our annual winners join a growing Brower Youth Awards alumni of powerful youth leaders who are recognized for their sustainable projects, innovative ideas, and ability to make a positive change in our world.

Who We Are


Director of New Leaders Initiative

Mona Shomali has been working at the intersection of environmental policy and social justice for over 15 years. As an adjunct faculty, she has taught international environmental policy and environmental justice courses at The New School, Pace University and New York University. She has also taught an ecology course at the New York Botanical Garden.

In addition to academia, Mona has worked as a researcher for the case Sarayaku vs. Ecuador  in the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, a policy analyst for an NGO that lobbied the United Nations on behalf of small island states who face sea level rise, and a contributor for a World Bank Report on Climate change and water distribution in Senegal. When it comes to environmental and social justice youth leadership, Mona believes it is vital to include and represent voices from all different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

Contact Mona to learn about the Brower Youth Awards as well as our local and national year-round programming, fellowship, high school essay contests, micro grant opportunities and local Bay Area events at

Program Coordinator

Susannah Lee graduated from UC Berkeley in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Environmental Biology and a minor in Geospatial Information Science and Technology. Before joining Earth Island, she spent time in Iceland working on a project exploring the potential of hydropower and geothermal renewable energy production for a small town near Reykjavík.

As a student, Susannah conducted a research project investigating the potential for bioremediation of a wetland site contaminated by hydrocarbon pollution. She also contributed to a study of urban agro-biodiversity in East Bay community gardens and the connection between food security and food traditions in the surrounding areas. She hopes to continue developing her passion for environmental justice by becoming more involved in the local issues facing her community.

Email with inquiries about our local high school programming, Brower Youth Award alumni services, and media requests.