Thursday, August 19, 2021
Amidst a year and a half of uncertainty caused by a global pandemic, students experienced a school year unlike any other. Remote learning, cancelled extracurricular activities, and virtual graduation ceremonies gave high school students a wholly unique, and unexpected, academic experience. What remained unchanged, though, was the drive of these young people to help their communities.
America’s Promise Alliance—with support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation—is amplifying the work of youth leaders across the country through the Power of Youth: Serve this Summer initiative. This initiative builds on our long-standing commitment to supporting young people as they spend their summers leading change in their communities.
This summer, America’s Promise Alliance awarded hundreds of passionate young people with $300 mini grants to lead change through community projects. These Power of Youth: Serve this Summer winners, ages 13-19, represent more than 40 states and districts and come from a range of diverse backgrounds. Select projects are also provided with coaching from experienced youth leaders to improve and expand their community projects.
This summer’s winners are tackling a wide range of challenges, from promoting literacy to implementing STEM workshops to supplying food and toiletries for the unhoused. Below are 10 grant winners who represent the diverse array of communities and projects funded this year:
Unchained, Aratrika K., Urjoshi K., Trisha P., and Tanvi P. (Atlanta, Georgia)
Atlanta, Georgia has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the U.S. That’s why Aratrika is working with Unchained, a non-profit dedicated to raising awareness about this issue. To help support survivors of trafficking, Aratrika created Project Care for You. Through this initiative, volunteers will provide care packages consisting of toiletries, handwritten cards, and food to trafficking victims at safe houses across Georgia.
Mission: DICE, Aditya D. (East Brunswick, New Jersey)
Aditya has spent many summers at his local Makers Space learning about technology and engineering. Now, he wants to pass along what he’s learned to others. That’s why Aditya founded Mission: DICE (Design, Innovate, Create, Educate). Mission: DICE works with libraries, schools, and individuals to conduct interactive 3D modeling workshops that explore how art and technology can come together for students in 4th through 9th grade.
We Care Kits, Charu S. (Glen Burnie, Maryland)
Charu is using her grant funding to create care packages for the unhoused in her community. These “We Care Kits” include basic necessities as well as primary medical supplies, such as band aids, antibacterial wipes, disposable masks, and medical gauze. The kits will be distributed at the Annapolis Lighthouse Homeless Prevention Center.
Addie’s Royal Cupcake Stand, Addison L. (Moorhead, Minnesota)
Addison noticed that many economically disadvantaged families in her community were unable to celebrate birthdays. Addison’s solution was to start a new initiative through her annual fundraising event Addie’s Royal Cupcake Stand, which raises funds for children with serious illnesses or disabilities. With her grant, Addison will now also host monthly activities for children in the community at Churches United for the Homeless.
Con Bondad, Sebastian Y. (San Jose, California)
Sebastian saw farmworker families in his community struggling during the pandemic, especially after they were excluded from the federal stimulus. Sebastian’s great-grandfather was a farmer, so he knows how essential they are to the community. Wanting to help, Sebastian held a student-led drive at his school and collected over 450 donations for over 350 farmworker families in the Bay Area. With this grant, he plans to continue working with the Center for Farmworker Families and collecting and distributing even more donations, including essential household and toiletry items.
The Corona Page, Mahi R. (Saratoga, California)
Mahi created the website The Corona Page to dispel coronavirus drug myths, simplify coronavirus drug research, and provide coronavirus drug updates. The website is designed to stop the flow of misinformation and empower individuals with knowledge over fear in the coronavirus pandemic. The grant award will support Mahi in her website upkeep, research, and reach as she and her team continue to debunk myths about the global pandemic for members of her community.
AccessArt, Grace W. (Glenmoore, Pennsylvania)
Grace is the creator of The AccessArt Project – a program intended to improve access to the field of visual art by providing boxes of art supplies to children from low-income families. Since high quality art supplies are quite expensive, such as sketchbooks, paints, pencils, and more, they are often inaccessible to young artists. Grace intends to use her grant to purchase supplies and improve accessibility to the arts to kids across her community.
Operation Cool Down, Ashley N. (Phoenix, Arizona)
Ashley recognizes that summers in her home state of Arizona are always hot, but with last summer being the hottest on record she knows her community needs help. Ashley already volunteers to provide hygiene items to local homeless outreach programs and now plans to do even more. With this grant, she is going to invite youth volunteers to join her in adding over 600 cooling towels to her donated “hope bags” to help homeless individuals stay cool during the Arizona summer.
Community Garden, Cassie G. (Quincy, Massachusetts)
This summer, Cassie is renovating and expanding a local community garden in order to address food insecurity. Cassie recruited community youth groups and volunteers to help her with this effort and already over 175 hours have been spent on this project. This summer, they donated over 50 pounds of fresh harvest to a local food pantry. With this grant, Cassie hopes to donate over 400 pounds of harvest by the end of the growing season.
Youth Representation Gallery, Kathy B. (Chicago, Illinois)
Kathy is creating a platform in which teenage artists in Chicago can showcase their pieces, network with fellow artists, and finally create the representation they deserve. Her goal is to serve the disenfranchised teenage art community while also raising funds to support a local visual arts non-profit. Kathy hopes that this gallery will demonstrate the importance of young, disenfranchised voices in creative urban spaces and encourage artists to continue to express their identity and experiences through visual art.