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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards?

The Award recognizes up to fifteen Jewish teens who are outstanding leaders in community service with awards of $36,000 each. We seek teens showing significant initiative and leadership in creating and leading a new initiative – or who have considerably deepened or expanded an existing project — that embodies the values of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

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Who can be nominated/apply for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards?

  • Teens ages 13-19 (at nomination)
  • Serving in a leadership role on a project/initiative aimed at repairing the world
  • Self-identify as Jewish
  • Volunteering without any compensation
  • Residents of the United States

Note: Teens are not eligible for the Award if they have a sibling who has received a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award in the preceding five years.

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I just turned 20, can I still apply?

Applicants must be 13-19 at the time of their nomination. An applicant is still qualified if they are nominated at age 19 and turn age 20 during the application review period.

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I’m in college, can I still apply?

Yes. The school grade of an applicant is not relevant. Only the age (13-19).

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What happens after I apply?

Candidates receive an automatic confirmation message upon successful submission of an application form. Applicants and nominees will automatically receive status updates as submissions are made on their behalf. If you do not see your confirmation email, be sure to check your spam filter.

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What can award recipients do with the Award?

The $36,000 award may be used to further the recipients’ philanthropic work or education.

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So, is this a scholarship?

It’s an award that can be used as a scholarship. We can send funds directly to a university. It can also be used towards philanthropic work. Some recipients choose to direct some of the funds towards their philanthropy and some towards their education.

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How do you decide who receives and award?

We have an extensive evaluation process with Review and Selection Committees. Reviewers use an evaluation system that focuses on demonstrated leadership, commitment and community service impact. Applications are read by multiple evaluators and the committee determines which applications continue on to semi-finalist and finalist rounds. Recipients are selected at a committee meeting led by the Committee Co-Chairs.

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What kinds of projects/initiatives do you look for?

Projects may have any focus, from raising money, to collecting in-kind items, to hands-on interactions, to larger systemic-change initiatives. Projects can have a local, national, or global focus benefiting the Jewish or general community. Applicants can create a new project or contribute to an established initiative if they demonstrate a significant leadership role in an existing organization or project.

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What are the Award evaluation criteria?

  • Proven commitment to the value and practice of tikkun olam
  • Demonstration of vision and creativity
  • Effective development and implementation of a project or organization
  • Dedication to the project over time
  • Ability to impact a growing number of individuals and/or engage a growing number of individuals in the project, either as partners, participants or beneficiaries

Ability to articulate the history, meaning and significance of the project, its goals, impact and potential to engage others

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Will you award the start-up of my new project?

The Award focuses on the established and demonstrated leadership of applicants working on one specific project. Applicants are not awarded for a concept that has not yet been initiated or is still in its very early stages.

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It sounds competitive. Why apply?

Many teens have said that it’s a significant experience just to be nominated and recognized for their work. Others have also said that the process of being nominated and filling out an application and articulating their ideas on paper was beneficial and helped them move their project forward. And, some teens who ultimately received the award were surprised that they were selected, thinking that they wouldn’t receive the award amongst the other impressive applicants.

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When are the recipients announced?

The application evaluation process is complete by the end of June, when applicants and nominators will be informed of the recipients.

The Committee works through a comprehensive multi-stage review process to ensure that each applicant and application receives close care and attention. There are more steps than one might assume, so that each applicant is carefully vetted and thoroughly reviewed.

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Can I apply again if I’ve applied in the past?

Yes. A nominee/applicant who was not selected in the past may apply again. Several past award recipients have been “repeat nominees.” We are not able to give specific feedback on applications due to the number of applications we receive.

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Who funds this program?

The Helen Diller Family Foundation created the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards in 2007. The family’s primary focus is to support education, science, and arts and they’ve donated and helped fund programs and institutions around the world. They created this specific program to help support and thank Jewish teens doing remarkable Tikkun Olam.

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Can a co-leader (or co-leaders) apply together?

No. The Award recognizes individual leadership, so teens may not submit one application together. Multiple teens working on the same project can apply individually. We encourage individuals to focus on their specific leadership contributions. Applicants will be evaluated separately, and for any given project only one individual leader may receive an award. If multiple teens want to apply for the same project, they must be comfortable with any selection outcome. We have seen one co-leader awarded when both have applied.

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What’s the difference between a nomination and a reference?

  • Nominator – submits a teen’s name for the award and then provides a recommendation.
  • Reference – is contacted by the teen to submit a recommendation.

The nomination and reference forms are identical and weighted equally during the evaluation process.

Each applicant must have two people submit forms on his or her behalf – a nominator and reference OR two references.

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Who should I ask to write my letter of recommendation?

Anyone that is not a relative is able to submit a letter of recommendation. We suggest that applicants ask a mentor/teacher/coach/clergy-person that is very familiar with the tikkun olam project and the leadership role of the applicant. The Committee appreciates letters that provide an additional perspective on the project and how the nominee leads the initiative.

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If I don’t have a single major project, can I apply for a combination of volunteering efforts?

While we encourage and applaud teens for being involved in a variety of tikkun olam and community service initiatives that are meaningful to them, recipients are awarded for their work on a specific project or initiative. Nominees’ applications should describe their work on a single project.

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What happens after I nominate a teen/I am nominated?

Teens get an email letting them know that they were nominated along with instructions on how to complete the application process. Teens fill out an application form on our website and need to seek out an additional person to serve as a reference. Reference forms are also available on our website.

Nominators: we typically recommend that you also let your nominee know that you’ve nominated him or her. It ensures that they know that they’ve been nominated in case their email notification gets accidentally stuck in a spam filter.

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Is there printable material I can download and share with my community?

Yes! You can find a downloadable flier here: About the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards