Headshot Photo of Max Blacksten
2023 Award Recipient


Project Youth Climate Action Team (YCAT)

Location McLean, VA

Issue Area Advocacy/Activism | Climate Justice/Environment

From a young age, Max has had a deep love of nature, from going camping with his grandparents to excelling as a Boy Scout. Putting his love of nature into action, Max joined the Youth Climate Action Team (YCAT), a climate justice advocacy nonprofit focused on placing youth at the forefront of the climate movement. He quickly rose to the position of executive director.

Under Max’s leadership, the organization’s reach has expanded to more than 500 members across 45 states and 30 countries, with chapters starting in Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Germany, and India. Max also worked with his local government to develop and expand climate education curricula across Fairfax County public schools and was elected to a one-year term on a local community center governing board.

Life is not a zero-sum game, and tikkun olam serves as a reminder that we always have the opportunity to positively impact the world, regardless of what others do.

Max Blacksten
Max Blacksten sitting on a large rock along a river

Youth Climate Action Team (YCAT)


YCAT logoTo address the existential threat of climate change, YCAT encourages intersectional advocacy by bringing non-climate-based student groups into the climate movement. YCAT provides a platform for teenagers worldwide to write, lobby, and educate the public about the climate crisis and sustainability. They engage and inform youth inside and outside of their network through published newsletters, podcasts, and articles.

Max Blacksten posing outside the U.S. Capitol
Max Bernsten speaking into a microphone to an audience outside the U.S. Capitol