A high school junior, Abby is tackling hunger issues in a direct and innovative way. Through Abby’s Sustainable Hunger Initiative, she’s working to break the cycle of food insecurity, poor nutrition and hunger with hundreds of pounds of regularly donated garden harvests and nutrition education. Abby recruits volunteers for bi-monthly workdays, coordinates onsite tasting demonstrations, collaborates with community partners, and plans community nutrition education activities; scavenger hunts and events. Over 3 years, Abby has helped double the project’s garden space, raised $50,000+ in funds, and impacted thousands of youth, schools, community and civic groups.
Zoe has seen first-hand the the impact plastics have on our oceans. Three years ago, she started organizing monthly clean-ups to help eliminate plastics in her community. From there, she joined the Talent Zero Waste Team and helped that group convince their City Council to ban plastic to-go items. Continuing to spread her message, Zoe has presented at local elementary schools, resulting in two schools switching from single-use plastic to metal dining utensils. Zoe’s efforts go beyond her town to make a difference. She wrote “Coral’s Quest,” a children’s book about a hammerhead shark who educates humans on how plastic hurts the ocean, and she’s been invited to attend the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp. Her goal is to establish Zero Waste Teams in more communities.
After learning how the homeless population in her community needed items as simple as toothpaste, Emma decided to take action. She created Emma’s Homeless Helper Project, an initiative focused on giving homeless youth and families the basic supplies they need. With the help of donors, Emma collects hygiene and non-perishable food items, plus clothing items like socks and hats, then bundles them into care “kits.” These packages are then donated to domestic violence programs and homeless shelters. To date, Emma’s Homeless Helper Project has donated close to 500 hygiene kits, 100 food kits, and 300 pairs of socks. As her efforts grow, Emma is looking to set up donation boxes in her community and begin purchasing items in bulk. One day, she’d like to have a storefront to serve the homeless directly.
At age 10, Kenzie felt it was only fair that everyone have access to healthy meals, so she started her nonprofit, the Make a Difference Food Pantry. Now 15, she has expanded the organization to include a fixed food-distribution site; mobile feeding programs for the elderly and children; and outreach pantries to help more North Carolinians in need. She also established Kenzie’s Kids Summer Feed Program, which involves cooking and delivering 400 hot meals every Friday. Her Mobile Disaster Feeding Program served those affected by Hurricanes Matthew, Harvey and Florence. To her, “It’s not just about the food, but how you make people feel.” Since opening the nonprofit in 2014, she and her team have provided just short of two million meals, because it’s only fair that everyone have access to hot meals.
After hearing that a family friend with an intellectual disability had been defrauded, Paige wanted to help teach vulnerable people in her community how to protect themselves and their money from scammers and ill-intentioned strangers. She decided a board game would be a fun way to teach basic financial literacy, so she created the SuperConsumers Financial Literacy Project. To date, she has presented her game to over 150 teens and adults with intellectual disabilities in her local school district, and she has been interviewed about the project on two local news stations. Building on this momentum, she plans to work with a local nonprofit to develop a new curriculum and donate more of her board games to special education classes and community organizations.
When Aaliyah was growing up, she always shared her stuffed animals and blankets with the foster kids who stayed in her home. She noticed that the gesture gave them comfort, and she wanted to share that with other foster kids in her community. Aaliyah started Furries 4 Fosters, which allows her to collect new stuffed animals and blankets for foster kids. This has prompted an ongoing partnership with Cedar Valley Angels and other nonprofits to help distribute tote bags filled with comfort items and ensure every child gets a warm and fuzzy gift for the holidays. Since starting Furries 4 Fosters, Aaliyah has also donated hundreds of blankets to the Allen Hospital Child Protection Center and local DHS offices.
Alex makes bow ties to raise money for bullying initiatives through Build-A-Bow, an organization he started to spread happiness and turn the term “nerd” into something positive and fashionable. He’s continued to stand up for people being bullied by writing a book on the topic called Bullies, Bowties, and Brilliant Alex. Alex’s many endeavors prove that no one is too young to have an impact.
Beckham collects books for people who don’t have any because he believes that teaching kids to read now will help them when they get older. He’s made a huge impact in his community, where there are big barriers to literacy. Beckham’s Bookshelf has already collected over five thousand books, but he hopes to get to seven thousand because he’s seven years old.
Clare noticed that many people in her community didn’t have anywhere to go for lunch on Monday, so she began organizing sack lunches for her local homeless shelter. As part of Clare Cares, she has initiated a slew of projects including designing rooms for underprivileged kids and fighting bullying with Buddy Benches. Because Clare chooses to be actively involved in her community, she’s done a lot to make her city a better place.
When Elliot was born prematurely, he was given an 18% chance of survival. His next 121 days at his local hospital saved his life. Elliot has given back by raising funds from his community, selling them calendars and inviting them to his annual spaghetti dinner fundraiser. Wireless technology has helped Elliot share these events and initiatives on social media or via email and he has raised $100,000 which went to renovating a new playroom and getting much needed supplies. At 7 years old, Elliot has made a huge difference for the families and kids at his community’s hospital.
Kayden realized people were going hungry and enlisted her parents' help to start a food pantry for people in need. Kaydenz Kitchen Food Pantry, however, underwent disaster when a fire ripped through their space, damaging the food and clothing stored there. Kayden is determined to pick up the pieces and aims to use the grant from U.S. Cellular to restock the pantry and create a space equipped with computers and wireless technology to enable people to search job listings, get help with resume writing and learn basic computer skills, all to help make her community a better place.
At 6, Cayden was diagnosed with Immune Thrombocytopenia Purpura (ITP). Two years later, Cayden made huge contributions to raise awareness for platelet disorders. By 2018, he raised over $23,000 from two different 5k walks and contributed over 50 raffle baskets and 20 silent auction items at fundraising events. Using wireless technology, Cayden regularly contacts businesses for donations and plans to design a blog for his annual walk.
Aela is an incredible activist. Using wireless technology to communicate with students from all over via text, email and social media, she’s built a diverse team of student leaders to create an entirely student-led conference, focusing on sexual assault prevention for over 2000 kids. In 2018, they secured commitments from 4 area schools, a space from a local college, and celebrity presenters. Aela and her team also worked to tie in comprehensive consent education legislation with their local senator. U.S Cellular's grant enabled Aela to provide travel for students outside her local area to attend the conference and replicate the model in their communities.
Olivia not only volunteers for her local food pantry and senior citizens home, but she also fundraises to assist those in Iowa who have Autism. In 2018, she sponsored a program allowing autistic kids and their families to enjoy a private pool party at the public pool, raised $800 by helping to construct a quilt that she raffled off, and inspired over $2,700 in donations from local businesses. Wireless technology helps Olivia spread the word about her programs as well as process the donations she receives.
After a brief stint in the hospital at 10 years old, Grace decided to start raising money for kids whose stay wasn’t as short. From hot chocolate and lemonade stands to an annual hospital toy drive and an Amazing Grace Lemonade Race, Grace raised over $40,000 for the hospital in 2018. Wireless technology helps Grace publicize her many initiatives and mobilize her following, and at 12 years old, Grace's fundraising total was $40,549.80.
Emersyn was diagnosed with scoliosis when she was very young, and recently underwent surgery to correct her spine. Her stay at her local hospital inspired her mission to help scoliosis patients feel safe, comfortable and not alone. Emersyn started an initiative where she sells homemade bath bombs to fund care baskets catered to scoliosis patients. These baskets include little bears with braces on them, books where the main character has scoliosis and her own story to help patients feel less alone. Wireless technology is helping Emersyn expand her program beyond her community to help more scoliosis patients.
At seven years old, Madison sold her Halloween candy to raise funds for her local food pantry. Since then, Madison has continued fundraising in her community, raising over $6,000 in six years to support local causes. With wireless technology, Madison has harnessed social media as an effective platform to collect donations and inspire local companies to join the cause. In 2018, Madison surpassed her goal of $1,000 to raise $2,300.
After losing a great-grandfather to Alzheimer's, Alexa decided she wanted to make a difference. Along with her school and her volleyball teams, Alexa has run fundraisers to help raise awareness and money for a local Alzheimer’s organization. With her tireless energy, she has brought the community of Cocke County together for the cause and raised over $60,000 by 2018. Wireless technology has played a part in helping Alexa raise awareness for the cause to raise much needed funds for caregivers and the communities they serve.
Caroline's volunteer work uses technology to improve literacy in her community. She was integral in helping to connect a nonprofit offering free functional reading instruction to children and adults with a software platform. This has led to the organization seeing more enrollment, more volunteers and more donations. Technology and rural Appalachia are notions that don’t often go hand in hand, but with Caroline's innovative use of wireless technology to support literacy efforts, that is about to change.
Over the course of eight years, Blakely volunteered over 1,800 hours at an animal shelter. As a certified foster cat caregiver and adoption ambassador, she cared for over 100 shelter rescue cats in her home, while managing social media accounts to help find them permanent homes. Using wireless technology, Blakely harnesses social media to connect local families with pets that are ready for adoption to help find them permanent homes.
Izabella was diagnosed with pineoblastoma brain cancer in 2016. During her treatment, Izabella's family received help from multiple organizations and now Izabella wants to give back. Pediatric cancer receives only 4% of federal cancer funding and Izabella's goal is to raise awareness for the cause. She speaks at fundraising events, girls camps, and on TV and radio stations, to advocate funding research for pediatric cancer and for organizations that assist families during their time of need. Wireless technology helps Izabella publicize her cause and helps connect young patients with their families while in treatment.
In 2017, Audrey became involved with the creation of a youth center focused on providing a safe environment for students to explore interests and discover their purpose. Audrey helped with the building remodel, from painting to building furniture to scrubbing floors. With Audrey's help, the center has incorporated a plan to use wireless technology to engage with students via mobile gaming and to reach out to more students via social media. Audrey hopes to use U.S. Cellular's grant to add robotics, computer programming and sewing to the center's life skills classes.
Lainie's mission is to spread awareness about the human trafficking epidemic. Wireless technology has helped Lainie in her research, her publicizing efforts and her collaboration with others. Currently, she is working toward getting a bill passed in Missouri requiring public schools to display posters warning teenagers of the signs of human trafficking. She has received a unanimous vote by a local school board to post signs and is working with several political officials to see a law come to fruition. Lainie hopes to use the U.S. Cellular grant to help an organization dedicated to helping victims of trafficking.
Kendal goes above and beyond to help others. As student council president, she used her position to raise money for those who are less fortunate. Recently, Kendal was inspired to start a lending library and went through city legislation to build one in her city park. Available to everyone, the library's rule is to take a book if you need one, and to leave one if you have extras. With wireless technology, Kendal hopes to start sending e-books through her lending library so students without transportation to libraries can still access books.
When Elise learned about the impact Hurricane Maria had on Puerto Rico, she decided to help. Together with friends, she organized a fundraiser initiative and called it Puerto Reno, to underscore the connection she wanted her Reno County community to feel with students on the island. She made a poster explaining the plight of the community and for four weeks, worked to sell craft items to raise funds and awareness. After meeting their goal of $200, Elise sent the funds over to help purchase school supplies for 40 disadvantaged youth. With wireless technology, Elise was able to research and publicize her cause and to connect kids in need with her own community.
As a way to improve his hometown, Chris founded Kinston Teens, a nonprofit organization designed to empower youth through service and civic engagement. Chris and the Kinston Teens work to revitalize their city by adopting and cleaning up streets, creating gardens out of vacant lots and finding ways for others to get involved in their mission. Chris continues to advocate new ways that local teens can help good happen to lead them toward a more positive and rewarding path, ultimately creating ambassadors for their community.
Starting with a mission to save the sea turtle, Katelyn and Makayla are all in on saving the environment, especially when it comes to water. The dynamic duo engages underserved youth through outdoor activities and environmental service projects which model leadership and promote outreach, all while having fun. The majority of their educational and service efforts are run through the Love A Sea Turtle foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to marine and ocean conservation awareness by engaging students in leadership development and environmental stewardship.
When Tommy was nine years old, he lost his grandmother, Mimi, to ovarian cancer and saw the impact it made on his family first hand. After a small book sale he created to raise funds for cancer research, his mission grew with more activities and advocacy. For six years, Tommy hosted an annual softball tournament to help raise awareness and funds for the fight to cure cancer. In that time, he led his community and raised over $41,000 with the goal that no other family should go through the impact of losing a loved one to cancer.
After being treated at Blank Children’s Hospital, Austin and his sister Avary decided to give back. The pair created “Fizzle Bath Bombs by Avary and Austin,” donating all profits to the hospital to benefit the kids being treated. They raised over $500 in 2017 alone!
Nicole has a passion for STEM and agriculture, and providing kids with the material and experiences needed to learn about them. In addition to working with Future Farmers of America and Camp Invention, she started “Beyond the Bell,” an after-school program for elementary students that teaches about the link between agriculture and STEM through hands-on learning projects.
Jessica dedicates her time and energy to the Unified Club at her school, which promotes inclusion of students with disabilities through shared sports experiences. She is involved with many of the Unified sports teams, traveling to other schools to play with the students. Jessica also volunteers with the adult Special Olympics program, where she hopes to one day coach an adult team. Her work has kept her inspired to continue working toward her goal of attending college to become a special education teacher.
As a volunteer with Infant Crisis Services, Ellie noticed a shortage of crucial supplies and went into action. She organized a drive that yielded more than $1,000 worth of diapers, formula and other critically needed items for families. As a result, Ellie was invited to sit on the organization’s Tween Board and will help conduct their fundraising activities. Ellie was also named one of Oklahoma’s top youth volunteers for 2017.
Brie bakes cookies to raise money for a variety of charities doing good in her community through her self-run nonprofit, Cookies Because. She has baked over 6,000 cookies to raise money for supply backpacks for the homeless, supporting Alzheimer’s research and stocking supplies for local animal shelters. For her next fundraiser, Brie wants to donate to the Children’s Hospital Foundation. A sweet way to make an impact.
After growing up playing violin and piano, Autumn decided she wanted to help other kids change their lives through music. As Miss Tennessee’s Outstanding Teen in 2017, she used her leadership platform to lobby for the importance of music education in schools and to raise money for the Joy of Music, a nonprofit organization offering music lessons. A classical violinist, Autumn has been with the Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra since she was just six years old.
When she was in the ninth grade, Sofia founded the Beckley, West Virginia Rock-a-Thon to support the West Virginia Alzheimer’s Association, which held its third annual event in 2017. Sofia became passionate about the cause after her grandfather developed Alzheimer’s while she was in middle school. The Rock-a-Thon uses rocking chairs rather than having a dance-a-thon event, to allow more people in the community to participate in the fun. Sofia’s first two Rock-a-Thon events raised $35,000.
After taking a writing workshop, Katie realized that many kids may not have the opportunity to find their voice through creative writing. Katie developed a summer workshop called Kids Tales for underserved kids ages 8 to 12 to offer guidance on creative writing and to empower and inspire. The young writers spend a week writing and editing their own short stories, which are then published in an anthology and placed on Amazon. By the time she was a high school senior, Katie grew Kids Tales to involve more than 120 teens, serving seven states and five other countries, making a global impact.
When she was just seven years old, Allie started Tulsa YouthWorks, a free five-week summer program for low-income kids with activities, service projects and meals, which she funded by selling candy bars and writing grants. Eight years later, Tulsa YouthWorks had grown to include a 10-week summer program, after-school program and “Pizza Factory,” which helps kids to develop their own business plans and raise money for college while making pizza.
As a 17-year-old high school senior, Evan founded Step Up To The Plate. His mission was to provide baseball equipment to underserved kids in his local community and around the world.
After noticing that people with special needs didn’t have the same access to extracurricular activities, Kaleb founded Dancing Away the Stigma (DATS) to raise money for Camp Courageous, a year-round camp for Iowans of all ages with special needs. He hopes to make DATS an official nonprofit and bring dance to more special-needs curricula.
After fasting for 36 hours for medical reasons, Quinn realized how difficult it was to experience true hunger. She decided to create Hunger Heroes to help raise funds for kids in her community without adequate food, especially during the summer months. Hunger Heroes raised money and depends on donations and volunteers from the community to complete the mission.
During the Christmas season, Ava makes toys for low-income kindergarten students at Council Bluffs Elementary School. When Ava learned that some young children do not receive gifts during the holidays, she decided to make gifts so that all children received something. Determined to make a difference, Ava began spending her evenings after school creating different homemade toys and jewelry to give as gifts to local children, such as those in the care of Children’s Square U.S.A.
Lia is the founder of the Hopeful Hearts Club, a group that throws birthday parties and hosts other special events for kids at Hope House, the homeless shelter in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Since its founding, the Hopeful Hearts Club has grown so much that Lia lost count of all its members. Lia was named Manitowoc’s 2016 Volunteer of the Year at 13 years old, becoming the youngest person to ever receive a key to the city, and was named a “Hometown Hero” by the Wisconsin State Assembly.
Since she was six years old, Raegan has been helping people and communities affected by natural disasters. To raise money, she makes bracelets and gives them to stores, asking for donations in return, and uses the funds raised to buy supplies to send to families in need. She’s sent supplies to communities across the United States since 2011, spreading much-needed hope and positivity.
As the founding members of Project Playback, Juli, Jason and Colby help patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia by collecting donated MP3 players, then working with patients to provide them with playlists based on their musical interests. Through the power of music, these three remarkable teens create personal connections with an older generation, bringing them peace and happiness, and making a lasting impact on the community as a whole.
In a community with one of America’s highest incarceration rates, Ryan is planting seeds of change. As an educational coordinator and the youngest board member of Teens Grow Greens, Ryan helps inner-city kids develop skills through hands-on experience in personal responsibility, healthy living, leadership and entrepreneurship. Through this work, Ryan empowers teenagers, helps them find their voice and provides them with the opportunity to grow.
Ally, Mackenzie, and Yelfy run two charitable programs: Dresses for Hope and Exchange for Change. Dresses for Hope allows students to choose a dress at no cost, and Exchange for Change lets girls swap out their old dresses for something new. In 2016, the girls collected more than 400 dress donations to offer the local students a variety of styles.
Katie is the founder of Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps., a service organization in Oklahoma City made up of high school trumpet players who use their musical gifts to honor military veterans. In the past year, Katie has received national print and social media exposure, launching her organization to the next level. She now has 125 volunteers in 30 states. She continues to be very involved in her community, having volunteered over 300 hours in 2015, serving her own organization and others.
Bundles of Hope is a nonprofit organization that helps kids through their first night in foster care by providing them with a backpack full of basic necessities. There are over 400,000 kids in the United States in foster care today. The goal of this organization is to make sure that each and every one of them knows that they’re not alone, that there is hope and that there will be a better tomorrow.
Parker founded the nonprofit youth community theater group Kids On Stage in 2015. The group’s mission is to bring to life great stories with great storytellers, both on stage and in the community. They inspire kids to do their best through collaboration and accountability, as well as through a commitment to community.