This Gen-Z Activist Is Offering Prince William $1 Million — Find Out Why (Exclusive)

Genesis Butler previously petitioned Pope Francis — and even received a reply

<p>Jesse Grant/Getty; Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage</p> Geneis Butler attends the Environmental Media Association IMPACT Summit in March; Prince William during a visit to the Bahamas in 2022.

Jesse Grant/Getty; Samir Hussein - Pool/WireImage

Geneis Butler attends the Environmental Media Association IMPACT Summit in March; Prince William during a visit to the Bahamas in 2022.

Genesis Butler has a special request for Prince William’s Earthshot Prize.

PEOPLE exclusively reveals that the 16-year-old animal rights and climate activist has partnered with Generation Vegan to ask the Prince of Wales to add a meat alternative category to his prestigious environmental prize. Butler, who has been a vegan since age 6 and gave her first TED Talk at age 10, argues that adding a plant-based prize is urgent for the planet’s sake.

Generation Vegan announced it was offering to provide the £1 million ($1.2 million) prize for an "Advance a Plant-Based Food System" category, matching the sum that Earthshot winners receive, in a social media statement on Aug. 17. A letter was sent at the same time to Prince William at Buckingham Palace. Today, Butler exclusively tells PEOPLE that she plans to be on the ground when the royal, 41, travels to the U.S. next week.

On Sept. 19, the heir to the throne is set to attend the second annual Earthshot Prize Innovation Summit in New York City. The Summit is co-hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and will unveil the fifteen 2023 Earthshot Prize finalists who are trailblazing climate solutions to repair Earth by 2030. The exciting event, held during New York Climate Week, will also convene previous Earthshot Prize winners and finalists with policymakers, global business leaders, philanthropists and climate activists to scale their innovative solutions.

Related: How Kate Middleton and Prince William Honor Queen Elizabeth: 'Something They Think About Every Day' (Exclusive)

Looking ahead, Butler tells PEOPLE that she hopes Prince William replies to the correspondence sent to the palace and adds a meat-alternative award. The current Earthshot categories aim to revive and repair the land, air and sea via Protect and Restore Nature, Clean Our Air, Revive Our Oceans, Build a Waste-Free World and Fix Our Climate prizes.

“I hope that I'll get an answer back from him, whether that's by him responding to it or even by him just adding this. That's all that we're asking, just that he adds the plant-based winner,” the teen activist says.

The latest pitch from Generation Vegan (which is also known as GenV) already has celebrity endorsements — some with royal connections! The nonprofit announced in August that the push for an Advance a Plant-Based Food System Earthshot Prize had the backing of Olivia Colman, Sharon Osbourne, Emma Thompson, Alicia Silverstone and Annie Lennox. Colman played Queen Elizabeth in seasons 3 and 4 of The Crown on Netflix, while Thompson attended King Charles' coronation in May and Lennox performed at the Earthshot Prize Awards in Boston last year.

Related: Prince William Is 'Very Excited' to Take Earthshot Prize Awards to Asia, CEO Says (Exclusive)

The new campaign marks Butler’s third time teaming up with GenV, which was formerly known as Million Dollar Vegan. She previously partnered with the organization to offer Pope Francis a $1 million donation to charity if he went vegan for Lent in 2019 and also proposed a donation of the same sum to veteran causes if then-President Donald Trump adopted a plant-based diet for one month. The California teen was delighted to receive a reply from the Pope, who sent a letter with a blessing.

"His Holiness Pope Francis has received your letter, and he has asked me to thank you," said the message from Msgr. Paolo Borgia, an official with the Vatican's Secretariat of State, according to the National Catholic Reporter. "He appreciates the concerns about care for the world, our common home, which prompted you to write to him. The Holy Father will remember you in his prayers, and he sends you his blessing."

Looking back, Butler tells PEOPLE that catching the Pope’s attention was “very inspiring” and that it felt gratifying to spread awareness about vegan impact.

“I think that it really made me realize why it's so important to question these world leaders because it got a lot of attention. That's why I'm continuing with these campaigns, especially with the new one where we're asking Prince William,” she says. “It made me realize that it's so important to ask these world leaders these big questions because then it gets a lot of attention and it's helping our planet for the better.”

Can't get enough of PEOPLE's Royals coverage? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

The young change-maker is the great-niece of the late civil rights leader Cesar Chavez and said that she draws strength from his legacy today.

“I know throughout all of his work he knew what he was doing was right. It really just inspires me to keep going and not take ‘no’ as the answer and to just keep being persistent with your activism. He has always really helped me remember it's super important to be fearless and to keep speaking up,” she tells PEOPLE.

Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty Prince William chats with children as he visits Kew Gardens for a Generation Earthshot event in 2021.
Ian Vogler-WPA Pool/Getty Prince William chats with children as he visits Kew Gardens for a Generation Earthshot event in 2021.

The Earthshot Prize will next travel to Singapore for the third annual awards ceremony on Nov. 7, and winners of the five current categories will be announced as the recipients of £1 million each to help scale their environmental solutions.

Over the last year, the 2023 Earthshot Prize cohort has driven incredible impact to repair and regenerate our planet with more than 1.5 million people benefiting directly from finalist solutions. Over 7,000 hectares of land and almost 2.1 million hectares have been protected or restored, while over 35,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions have been reduced, avoided or sequestered.

King Charles’ elder son created the contest in 2020 with plans to award Earthshot Prizes until 2030. The inaugural awards were held in London in October 2021.

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.