Abby Sher is a writer, performer, and mom to three cool beans. Her memoir, Amen, Amen, Amen: Memoir of a Girl Who Couldn't Stop Praying got lots of awards from people like Oprah. She writes regularly for The New York Times and The Jewniverse and wears a bike helmet to bed.
The Challenge: About 15 million children in the United States today are living below the federal poverty threshold. They struggle to get clean clothes, healthy food, and emotional support.
The…Solution: Celebrate U. The Teen Who’s Making A Brighter Future: Talia Eskenazi of New York, NY. Talia Eskenazi and her best friend, Chase Kauder, liked organizing birthday parties—for friends, friends of friends, parents of friends of friends, you name it. They also liked doing volunteer work for underserved schools and communities. One day they realized… >> Read More
The Challenge: Children with developmental disabilities are too often overlooked when it comes to organized sports.
The Solution: San Diego Chill.
The Teen Who’s Making A Brighter Future:…Isaiah Granet from San Diego, CA Isaiah Granet started playing ice hockey at age 4, and he’s sure it’s given him the confidence and collaborative spirit that fuels him today. While doing research for his bar mitzvah, Isaiah noticed that there weren’t as many athletic opportunities for children with developmental disabilities and was determined to… >> Read More
The Challenge: There are so many young people who want to be trailblazers, but where do they begin?
The Solution: High School HeroesX.
The Teen Who’s Making A Brighter Future: Eli Wachs from…Bryn Mawr, Pennslyvania Eli read a book in high school that changed his life. And in turn, the lives of many young people. The book is called “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think” by Peter H. Diamandis, and Eli was inspired by one of Diamandis’s messages—that youth are as capable as anyone at… >> Read More
The Challenge: Hospitalized children often have nothing to play with or inspire them.
The Solution: Kayla Cares 4 Kids
The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Kayla Abramowitz…from North Palm Beach, Florida. Kayla is only 14 years old, but she knows what it’s like to spend time in the hospital. She was just 6 when she would first show symptoms that would eventually be diagnosed as Crohn’s Disease, Juvenile Arthritis, and Eosinophilic Colitis. The eldest of three children, she also spent time… >> Read More
The Challenge: Bullying affects students all over the world and can be traumatizing.
The Solution: The Validation Project.
The Teen Who’s Making A Brighter Future: Valerie Weisler of New…York, NY. Valerie Weisler knew what it was like to be shy. As a high school freshman, she was so quiet, she was accused of being mute. But when she saw a fellow student being bullied, she spoke up and said, “You matter.” His response, that her words “validated” him, in turn inspired her. Thus,… >> Read More
The Challenge: Limited access to books in low-income communities.
The Solution: Bags of Books.
The Teen Who’s Making A Brighter Future: Alexa Grabelle of Voorhees, NJ
Alexa remembers being…10 years old when she heard the term “summer slide.” It’s common for students to regress a bit academically during the summer months when school is out. But Alexa learned that “summer slide” was a lot worse for kids in low-income communities, because there was a severe shortage of books and learning opportunities. Alexa decided… >> Read More
PROBLEM: The homeless population in the U.S. continues to hover around 550,000. In the colder months, homelessness is particularly life-threatening.
SOLUTION: Warm Winters.
THE TEEN WHO’S…MAKING A DIFFERENCE: Corinne Hindes of Walnut Creek, CA. In 2011, Corinne Hindes saw a homeless man in her neighborhood dressed in only a t-shirt and jeans, even though it was frigid outside. Corinne had been an avid ski-racer her whole life and she noticed that the Lost and Found at the ski resort where… >> Read More
Problem: Juvenile delinquency and recidivism rates are very high in the United States.
Solution: Taft Teen Court.
The Teen Who’s Making A Difference: Michael Mottahedeh of Calabasas,…CA. Michael’s parents came to America from Iran to find religious freedom and opportunity. When they raised Michael, they made sure he understood that all people were entitled to equal opportunities and a chance at justice. In ninth grade, Michael’s English teacher saw his passion for the justice system and introduced him to Teen Court—a… >> Read More
Problem: Education funding cuts too often leave schools without vital programs.
Solution: Rim High Literature Club
The Teen Who’s Making A Difference: Laurielle Schwab of Running Springs,…CA In 2014, Laurielle’s former elementary school lost the funds for its reading program. Laurielle was already in high school, but she was determined to give back to the community that nurtured her. She pulled together a group of friends and brainstormed how to bring reading resources back to the school system. And thus, Rim… >> Read More
The Challenge: Nearly one in five people in the U.S. have special needs, and yet we still have trouble teaching special needs awareness.
The Solution: Autism Advocacy.
The Teen Who’s Making A…Brighter Future: Alexandra Jackman from Westfield, NJ. Alexandra Jackman was 8 years old when she met a young girl with cerebral palsy at summer camp. Alexandra wanted to say hello, but she didn’t know how. That’s when she realized that there was nothing holding her back except for her own fear and misperceptions. From that… >> Read More
The Challenge: There are over a million schoolchildren in the United States today who don’t have basic school supplies.
The Solution: Performing for Pencils.
The Teen Who’s Making A…Brighter Future: Jessica Goldberg, 17, of St. Louis, Missouri. Jessica has been dancing and acting for over a decade. She also has a heart of gold. While volunteering as a teaching assistant at St. Louis Aim High, Jessica was shocked to see how often her students lacked the basic tools they needed. She decided to… >> Read More
The Challenge: Starting political conversations among high school students is no easy task.
The Solution: The Fight Apathy Campaign.
The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place:…Andrew Plotch—hailing from Fair Lawn, New Jersey—was sick and tired of hearing about the latest tabloid news and complaints from his peers about feeling powerless. Andrew has always believed in the power of each individual and was determined to bring his high school friends along on his mission to affect the world positively. He started… >> Read More
The Challenge: Over 15 million children in the United States aren’t sure where their next healthy meal will come from. At the same time, childhood obesity is still hovering at around 17%.
The…Solution: Go Healthy St. Louis. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Sophie Bernstein, who grew up in St. Louis, Missouri and always wanted a vegetable garden. For her bat mitzvah project, Sophie planted a garden big enough to help supply the local food banks. That’s when she saw first-hand how much… >> Read More
The Challenge: There are currently about 46 million people in the United States still living below the poverty line. Many of them are teenagers who just want to fit in and study with their…peers. The Solution: The Strengthen Our School Program. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Liesl Eibschutz, who grew up in the relatively affluent city of San Luis Obispo, California and was shocked to learn that many people in her high school were dealing with homelessness, foster care, and/or severe financial strains.… >> Read More
The Challenge: There are young girls all over the globe who are not able to get an education like their male counterparts.
The Solution: Richard’s Rwanda-IMPUHWE.
The Teen Hero Who’s Making…This World A Better Place: IMPUHWE means compassion in Rwandan, and that is the perfect word to describe Seattle native, Jessica Markowitz. Jessica was 11 when she met Richard Kananga, a Rwandan human rights advocate. Richard had survived the genocide in Rwanda and was working on restoring his homeland. Jessica was mesmerized by his talk and… >> Read More
The Challenge: Physical education and learning teamwork are so important for health and emotional well-being. Sadly, there are many kids who get no opportunity to experience this kind of…education. The Solution: Play It Forward. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Emmi Eisner, of Encino, California. Emmi was just 11 years old when she started realizing how fortunate she was and how many kids around her didn’t have the same resources—especially at school. Emmi loved sports and always believed in… >> Read More
The Challenge: Marin County and Marin City share a lot of the same land and yet their communities are often divided by income and prejudice.
The Solution: Marin City Community Garden…Project. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Hart Fogel, who grew up in Mill Valley, CA, and has been passionate for a long time about restorative justice, youth leadership, and getting out into nature. Hart has been volunteering for five years with the Marin County Youth Court, which is an early intervention… >> Read More
The Challenge: Fragile-X syndrome is a genetic condition on the autism spectrum that often leads to learning disabilities, cognitive impairment, and/or different types of anxiety and seizures.
The…Solution: The Magic Arrows, a therapeutic game for children with Fragile-X syndrome, that focuses attention and reduces stress. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Ben Moelis, who saw his dear friend’s suffering and decided he could design a fun way to face this obstacle. Ben was always interested in engineering and… >> Read More
The Challenge: The conditions for many migrant day laborers in the U.S. are unsafe and unrewarding.
The Solution: Laguna Friends in Need, improving the lives of migrant day laborers in Laguna…Canyon, CA. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Shira Alcouloumre, who grew up in Laguna Canyon and saw first-hand how these laborers were being treated. She was just 4 years old when her mother took Shira and her siblings to Santa Ana. Their mother had them use their own money to… >> Read More
The Challenge: Millions of people are living below the poverty line in the United States, many of them children who are trying to go to school.
The Solution: Rainbow Pack, a nonprofit organization…giving low-income elementary school students much-needed school supplies. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Riley Gantt, who was just 10 years old when she befriended a girl in Los Angeles who couldn’t afford a box of crayons. Riley knew she had to change that. She started raising funds with bake sales… >> Read More
The Challenge: Bullying. With the rise of social media, bullying has taken on new methods and momentum. Matthew Kaplan saw it eating away at his brother’s confidence and hurting the ones Matthew…loved most. The Solution: The Be ONE Project. ONE stands for Open to New Experiences, which is what is happening, thanks to this anti-bullying peer-led program. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Matthew Kaplan, who started The Be ONE Project in 2011, when he was in eighth grade. Since then, his… >> Read More
The Challenge: The Jewish community in Greenville, South Carolina needed a stronger Jewish life for youth that could unite the two congregations in the area.
The Solution: Gesher BBYO, which is a…thriving chapter of the international BBYO Jewish youth movement. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Ruthie Perlman, of Greenville, South Carolina. Ruthie loved her community growing up, but her friends were mostly from conservative Christian homes. She felt like an outsider a lot of the time. Except when all of her… >> Read More
The Challenge: Matthew Hacker was diagnosed as autistic when he was 2.5. But why did that mean people excluded him all the time?
The Solution: Fantastic Friends, an organization for special needs…kids where everyone is treated equally. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Marissa Hacker, Matthew’s twin sister and founder of Fantastic Friends. Marissa Hacker remembers thinking that her brother was so much fun to play with—brave and bold and full of smiles. She didn’t know why his diagnosis of autism meant… >> Read More
The Challenge: There are 6 million American schoolchildren suffering from potentially life-threatening allergies and diet-related illnesses. Without proper labeling on food, the school cafeteria can…be a very dangerous place. The Solution: The School Food Labeling Initiative. The Teen Hero Who’s Making This World A Better Place: Lauren Maunus, of Palm City, Florida. Lauren was just 4 years old when she saw how dangerous unknown allergies could be. Her little sister almost died from an unexpected reaction to eating a… >> Read More
Maya Rigler is 10-years-old. Her favorite color is blue, she loves reading the Percy Jackson series, going to Camp Harlam (a URJ summer camp in the Poconos), and getting fro-yo with her…friends. Sadly, Maya started 2015 by finding out she had a malignant tumor. >> Read More