Press Release

America’s Promise Awards 150 Grants to Youth

‘Power of Youth Challenge’ winners, ages 13-18, receive $250 to lead service projects in their communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – America’s Promise Alliance announced today 150 recipients of COVID-19 Response Grants as part of the Power of Youth Challenge—an initiative to provide young people who are making a difference in their communities with financial support and coaching to further their efforts. 

Now in its second year, the Power of Youth Challenge is part of America’s Promise’s ongoing work to channel the rising tide of youth leadership in this country and build on its long-standing commitment to connecting young people with opportunities to serve their communities. Young people participating in this round of the challenge responded to a broad array of community needs made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The 150 grant winners hail from 35 states, are 13 to 18 years old, and represent a diverse group of promising young leaders tackling a wide array of challenges in their communities. They received mini-grants of $250 each to pursue their projects. 

“As communities across the country face unprecedented challenges, young people are stepping up in remarkable ways,” said Dennis Vega, interim president and CEO of America’s Promise Alliance. “From sewing masks for first responders, helping small businesses, and supporting our teachers, the visionary projects supported by this year’s Power of Youth Challenge show how young people are taking action to support their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”   

The Power of Youth Challenge is designed by and for young people. Since 2019, this year’s competition challenged young people across the U.S. to identify a need in their communities related to COVID-19 to put into action a service project that is remote or that follows social distancing guidelines. 

Grant winners were chosen by members of America’s Promise Alliance’s Power of Youth Council, who also helped applicants clarify goals and budgets, develop plans for carrying out their projects safely, and connect with the wider community of youth service leaders.  

The challenge was made possible through a grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, which supports nonprofits around the world that promote a just, equitable, and sustainable society, including organizations that empower young people through service. 

Below are six grant winners who are representative of the diverse array of projects funded this year: 

Teens Helping Seniors, Dhruv P., Montgomery County, Md. 

Dhruv P. is a high school junior in Montgomery County, Md., and the co-founder of Teens Helping Seniors — a volunteer delivery service that connects teens with their elderly neighbors to help with errands and groceries. Since it began earlier this year, Teens Helping Seniors has expanded to 27 chapters around the country with over 600 volunteers. With his grant award from the Power of Youth, Dhruv is piloting local meal delivery for seniors and offsetting driving costs for teen volunteers. 

Sewing Masks for First Responders of COVID-19, Kiana K., Morton Grove, Mich. 

Kiana K. wanted to find a way to support essential healthcare workers as they risk their well-being to care for others. Kiana combined her love of sewing with her desire to help those who put others first. Thus began her initiative of making reusable masks that fit over N95 respiratory masks to extend the amount of time they can be safely worn. The grant award will support Kiana as she innovates new ways to help essential workers in her community and across the country while following guidelines for social distancing. 

Luggage for Hope, Hannah N., Wolfe City, Texas 

Hannah N. was determined to provide youth in foster care with the dignity and respect they deserve as their environment shifts since youth in foster care are frequently moved from one foster home to the next, often without much warning. The grant award will support Hannah with her project, Luggage for Hope, which collects donated luggage and distributes it to youth in foster care around her Texas community. 

Project Falcon, Rayan G., San Jose, Calif. 

Small businesses in communities across the country struggled in March to transition their customer outreach to a virtual setting. In Rayan G.’s California community, that trend has only continued. To help small business owners reach new audiences and support their companies Rayan has worked with other students who have experience in web design to create free websites for organizations around his area. 

Care Relief Package, Mahbuba S., Detroit 

To help students in underserved communities stay connected during remote learning, Mahbuba S. started an effort to offer peers care packages to promote positivity and connection. She personalizes the kits before safely distributing them: equipping them with healthy snacks, stress balls, a flyer for a homework help hotline, and a hand-written letter. With a mission to engage students around the Michigan region, Mahbuba hopes to excite her fellow peers for the school semester. 

The Literacy Initiative, Agha H., Ballwin, Mo. 

Agha H.’s project, along with dozens of other applications, was conceptualized before the pandemic struck. With an emphasis on youth development, STEM, and literacy programs, Agha created an after-school initiative for students in underserved communities to serve as educational enrichment. He has quickly pivoted since March, planning a global virtual camp and online lessons for students left without easy access to education opportunities. In just five months, he’s already affected over 1,000 students with his project, The Literacy Initiative.