Emerging Leaders. Big Solutions.

The science is clear and the call to action has never been more urgent. The threat of climate change and its devastating impacts will affect this generation and every generation yet to come. Even more so, young people will face disproportionate effects of climate change. By the time our nation’s high school students are in their fifties, scientists predict that our planet will already have been set on a path of uncontrollable climate change, that is, if we do nothing. We must make the choice to act quickly if we are to avoid the worst consequences of climate change, and youth are the best investment we can make to accelerate the path to action.

ACE youth leaders are solutions-oriented. They understand the seriousness and urgency of the science and are determined to think big when it comes to solutions. While their political leaders reach impasse after impasse, ACE youth are sidestepping the gridlock to focus on winnable, common sense solutions right now. How? It starts with the ACE Assembly, an undeniably inspiring multimedia presentation on climate change, its impacts and the possible solutions. Charged with a clear call to action during the assembly, some emerging young leaders decide to apply to attend one of ACE’s day-long, intensive leadership development workshops, ACE Action Labs, to get the skills, confidence and camaraderie they need to have impact.

Electric VW Beetle Electric VW Beetle

What do the results looks like? Earlier this year in January, the Green Science Club at Bronx Design and Construction Academy (BDCA), an ACE school, was awarded the $100k Zayed Foundation’s Future Energy Prize for leading innovative energy solutions in their school. Then in February, ACE leaders from Santa Monica High School in Los Angeles converted an old 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle into an electric car. Just this month, six of ACE’s top leaders from Chicago, Climate Action Fellows, traveled to Washington D.C. to accept the 1st prize award for the If I Had a Trillion Dollars Youth Film Festival. They won for their “I’d Choose Us” video, asking that the federal government rethink defense spending and reallocate a portion of the funds to sustainable public schools.

Just today, Ben Schlegel, 15-year-old sophomore at Manchester-Essex High School, where ACE mentors the school’s Green Team, had his first blog published on CleanTechnica. The piece’s focus is to educate the public on the “no-brainer” solution, net metering, for residential rooftop solar. White HouseBen sees rooftop solar as a clear, common sense solution for his home state, Massachusetts, and wants to make sure roadblocks are removed so that residents can enjoy both the economic and climate benefits of solar.

The verdict is in. Youth are the key to lasting, innovative climate solutions right now. ACE is equipping these emerging leaders with the tools they need to be effective today and rightfully positioning them as key stakeholders in the face of the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced, climate change. Won’t you support them?


Leah Qusba

Leah joined ACE in 2009 and is currently serving as Deputy Director. She brings with her more than 12 years of experience in the nonprofit sector as a relationship-builder, communicator and strategic problem solver. She manages ACE’s program, campaign, communications, media, and marketing strategy.