5 California teens win $36,000 each for tikkun olam efforts
SAN FRANCISCO (Press Release)–The Helen Diller Family Foundation and The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties has announced the 2010 recipients of the prestigious Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award.
Now in its fourth year, the award has significantly increased in awareness, tripling its visibility by drawing more than 175 exceptional teens—from more regions of California than ever before. Each honoree has initiated innovative social action projects that are truly helping to repair and heal the world.
These five pioneering California teens will receive an award of $36,000 each, which will be presented at a luncheon ceremony in San Francisco on August 23, 2010. The awards are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award winners for 2010 are:
Jason Bade from Foster City/San Francisco (age 19)
Megan Kilroy from Santa Monica (age 18)
David Schenirer from Sacramento (age 18)
David Weingarten from Woodland Hills/Los Angeles (age 18)
Kyle Weiss from Danville/San Francisco (age 17)
Tikkun olam is a Hebrew phrase that means repair the world; it signifies one of the basic precepts of Judaism. “In a world struggling valiantly to recover from economic, environmental and humanitarian crises, our unconditional confidence in these young leaders is a model for decisive social action and sustainable change,” said Helen Diller, president of the sponsoring foundation. “The Tikkun Olam Award is our investment in these five truly exceptional young Californians—we know this recognition will further the work they’ve begun in the spirit of tikkun olam, and create lasting differences to protect and preserve the earth and its people for generations to come.”
The awardees’ projects included a student-run environmental and recycling movement that saves six high schools millions of dollars per year; a marine preservation program that sparked youth-created environmental activist groups from coast to coast; a sorely needed teen culture and community center for Sacramento youth; an international partnership with Ugandan teens to strengthen Jewish identity, and an innovative social network and fundraising website that empowers African youth through soccer. Each project required leadership and careful organization in addition to fundraising. Use of the award money is unrestricted, though recipients are encouraged to use the funding for college or to further implement a vision for making the world a better place.
The teens were awarded by a selection committee composed of educators and community leaders from San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Marin, Yolo, Fresno, Placer, Contra Costa, Alameda, Santa Ana and Orange Counties. To be eligible, teens could self-nominate, or be nominated by an adult and complete a detailed application describing their projects, its goals, their inspiration and challenges, fundraising tactics and ultimate accomplishments.
Nominees were required to be California residents, between 13 and 19 years old, and self-identify as Jewish. The community service projects can focus on any area of interest to the teen.
2010 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award Recipients and their Projects:
Jason Bade (Foster City): Environmental Movement Saves Six Schools Millions Per Year –A heavy sense of moral obligation to heal the earth was instilled in 19-year old Jason Bade early—at first as his family’s recycling advocate, Jason transferred his passion into a step-by-step student greening blog to co-founding the “Green Youth Alliance,” the first high school environmental services organization in the U.S. that seeks to connect green student groups at high schools nationwide in a synergy of idea exchange and support. Sparking an environmental consciousness movement throughout the Bay Area, Jason reinvigorated his high school’s old environmental club and established a student-run recycling initiative so efficient it now saves the school nearly $5,000 a year. Jason also single-handedly lobbied high school board members to install solar panels to offset electricity usage and reduce carbon footprints in six Bay Area high schools, which will conserve nearly $4 million per year in electricity costs. He represented the U.S. at the UNESCO World Youth Festival panel and spoke at the Global Governors’ Climate Change Summit in Los Angeles; clearly, his vision for sustainable change is engaging entire regions to wake up and repair the earth.
Megan Kilroy (Santa Monica): Marine Preservation Initiative Inspires Teens To Save The Planet –As one of four teens honored with Nickelodeon’s TeenNick HALO Award—Helping and Leading Others—Megan Kilroy is strengthening her mission to fight for environmental issues and teach other teens nationwide that they too can make a difference. As first-ever appointed captain of the student-driven environmental action initiative, “Team Marine,” Megan has passionately educated the public to adopt sustainable mindsets and behaviors and create awareness of the destructive impact their daily actions have on the ocean. Dressed in bottletops as “Cap Woman,” she has lobbied City Hall in Sacramento and Santa Monica to encourage a ban on single-use plastic, and built a solar powered boat and electric car to demonstrate alternative energy usage and create awareness of the effects carbon emissions have on the ocean. Megan envisions a future production company that lets her harness the power of media to shed ignorance about human destructiveness, and educate youth about the global marine debris crisis—empowering others to step up and fight for change as well.
David Schenirer (Sacramento): Teen Culture Center Gives Sacramento Youth a Voice–David Schenirer grew up with a deeply rooted involvement in his Jewish community, inspiring a strong belief that “Tikkun Olam is, in spirit, hands on repairing of the world”—when he began losing his high school friends to substance abuse, he realized Sacramento youth needed a safe and supportive community to call their own. With leadership roles in the North American Federation of Temple Youth and as President of California Association of Student Council, David and his best friend Julian became aware that teens need a strong, spirited community to feel connected and motivated. They raised nearly $400,000 in in-kind donations and co-created VIBE—a 100% organically youth-owned and operated urban lounge where teens can learn academic and vocational skills, engage in service learning, socialize with other youth, and freely express themselves. A versatile space that can be transformed from a dance floor into a classroom, VIBE attracts all walks of teen culture from six different schools and backgrounds. At age 18, David has been dedicated to giving every new generation of teens a voice and meeting the changing needs and interests of Sacramento youth.
David Weingarten (Woodland Hills): Partnership Revives Jewish Identity for Ugandan Teens–Named “Youth of the Year” by his synagogue, 16-year old David Weingarten’s heartfelt connection to the dwindling Abayudaya Jewish tribe of Uganda inspired him to engage his United Synagogue Youth (USY) chapter to create a partnership with teenagers in Uganda. David raised more than $12,000 to bring three Ugandan teens to the USY Regional Convention in Los Angeles, where they participated in program planning and leadership training with kids from all over the west coast. As a result, the three Ugandan teens returned home empowered, and created their own community service and youth development and leadership programs. The Ugandan group has grown swiftly, and has already initiated their own convention, uniting teens from eight villages to conduct youth-led activities and discussion sessions ranging from drug and alcohol abuse to leadership training. Under David’s guidance, the Jewish teens of Abayudaya have transformed their community into a prosperous, supportive international Jewish stronghold, sparking youth movements throughout Africa to assist teens in becoming future leaders.
Kyle Weiss (Danville): Innovative Website Empowers African Youth Through Soccer –After attending the 2006 World Cup soccer game in Germany, 13-year old Kyle Weiss realized that a passion for soccer is the thread that holds communities together in many poverty-stricken African countries. When Kyle and his brother learned that African youth do not have the fields and equipment to play soccer, they co-founded “FUNDaFIELD,” a youth run non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of African children. By engaging Bay Area kids and their parents in creative fundraising initiatives, and by using his social media expertise to develop a website fundraising campaign that sells $1.00 squares on a virtual soccer field, they’ve raised over $100,000 to help build sevens fields in African villages. Kyle’s confidence in the power of soccer is revolutionizing quality of life for African kids: “when we build a field in a community, so much more evolves,” he says. Kyle’s impact has extended beyond sports to non-profit partnerships that facilitate HIV/Aids awareness and prevention programs, and help build drinking water wells on the soccer fields. Kyle has also trained an ambitious and active force of American students who work tirelessly to create sustainable change for African youth.
The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards initiative is one of a number of projects funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation through the Jewish Community Endowment Fund to develop leadership in teens and enhance Jewish education.
Preceding provided by the Helen Diller Family Foundation