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The Helen Diller Family Foundation

Is Proud to Announce the


Recipients of the

Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards

Jonah Bard

Los Angeles, CA | 18

Jonah created EdRise to address the crisis of millions of students falling behind in their classes due to a lack of individualized academic support. EdRise delivers free virtual tutoring sessions for disadvantaged students in grades 3-8. The organization has recruited 113 volunteer high school and college aged tutors and has reached 267 students over the course of more than 1,200 hours of tutoring sessions.


Benjamin Barkoff

New York, NY | 17

Benjamin was first captivated by the concept of tzedakah, or charity, during preschool. He emptied his piggy bank to donate to an organization supporting wounded veterans. As he learned more about the work and sacrifice of military members, Benjamin created Whiskey Bravo to support the less than 1% of Americans who volunteer to serve in the armed forces, some of whom make the ultimate sacrifice.


Ariel Beck

Bethesda, MD | 19

Around the time she became a bat mitzvah, Ariel attended a conference of women entrepreneurs, where she was shocked to learn that only 2.3% of venture capital goes to start-ups led by women. Motivated to change this statistic, Ariel gathered a group of 10 friends to meet with a woman entrepreneur. That meeting eventually evolved into an international organization supporting more than 2,500 girls learning entrepreneurial skills.


Gideon Buddenhagen

Oakland, CA | 17

Gideon noticed a disconnect where students of color lacked access to technology education as well as mentors who looked like them. By creating Leadership in Motion, Gideon aimed to address this disparity, creating a pathway to leadership for older students and unique learning opportunities for younger students. Leadership in Motion’s successful pilot phase connected low-income middle school students with high school students of color for a nine-week technology education program with Google. His program is now being adopted under Google’s Code Next offerings.


Matthew Casertano

North Potomac, MD | 18

When Matthew realized that he and a friend were both delivering groceries and medication to their respective grandparents to reduce their risk of exposure to Covid-19, he immediately knew that there must be others who didn’t have that kind of help. In 2020, Matthew and his friend Dhruv began Teens Helping Seniors to identify senior citizens, people with disabilities, and immunocompromised members in their community and connect them with teen volunteers to ensure they could get the essentials they needed as the pandemic worsened.


Amelia Fortgang

San Francisco, CA | 18

Standing on the steps of San Francisco City Hall leading the Youth Climate Strike, Amelia felt the power of her grandmothers who worked in local politics and inspired her to organize and lobby for change. With that strong family foundation, and fueled by her passion for environmental justice, Amelia founded the Bay Area Youth Climate Summit, an activism network that offers in-depth educational climate justice workshops, lobbies local and federal elected officials, and mobilizes Bay Area high schoolers to implement climate action plans in their communities.


Robbie Khazan

Arlington, MA | 17

Seeing his younger sister’s joy after he taught her how to program a game, Robbie sought to share the excitement of coding with more kids, especially those who don’t have access to regular computer science education. Working with parents in his community, Robbie organized a 10-week online course in Scratch, a programming language used in animated games. After a successful test run, Robbie expanded his class to include kids in transitional housing, and Kiddo Byte was born. To date, Kiddo Byte has recruited over 50 volunteers and 15 organizational partners, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Lab, and has taught coding and development courses to more than 400 students worldwide.


Sienna Nazarian

Beverly Hills, CA | 17

Inspired by her own family’s history of fleeing persecution simply because they were Jewish, Sienna co-founded The Refugee Empowerment Project to break down the roadblocks that exist for refugees during their resettlement process by offering them the resources they need to thrive. Sienna recognized the impact of her organization the day an Afghani girl said, after she attended a community orientation, that it was “her best day in America.” Since its inception, The Refugee Empowerment Project has recruited more than 130 volunteers to assist over 1,000 refugees, immigrants, and asylum seekers through direct service, including hand-delivering boxes of essential items to newcomers’ homes.


Evan Nied

Virginia Beach, VA | 18

After experiencing the dangers of Hurricane Florence firsthand, Evan set out to make a difference by planting thousands of trees and working to mitigate the disastrous effects of climate change. In the three years since his organization Planting Shade was founded, they have planted nearly 12,000 trees across different states, countries, and continents while increasing awareness about the impact of climate change.


Hailey Richman

Plainview, NY | 15

When Hailey was four years old, her grandmother developed Alzheimer’s disease. Through her personal experience, Hailey discovered the lack of resources and support for the 1.8 million youth in the United States serving as caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s. By creating the non-profit organization Kid Caregivers, Hailey began to pursue a way to make a change. Her organization pairs young people with Alzheimer’s patients for shared puzzle solving, which boosts mood and short-term memory, and organizes an online youth support group to demonstrate that kids who are supporting loved ones who are Alzheimer’s patients are not alone.


Cameron Samuels

Katy, TX | 18

In school one day, Cameron attempted to visit the website of a queer youth suicide prevention organization and was shocked to find that it was blocked by the campus internet under the category of “Alternative Sexual Lifestyles (GLBT)” along with other local and national websites dedicated to LGBTQ+ equality and support. As a queer student who understood both firsthand and from friends the struggle to find support and acceptance, Cameron was inspired to begin an effort to lift the bans on these sites and bring justice to queer students within their school district of 90,000 students. Cameron’s leadership has led to coordinated efforts that garnered nearly 2,000 petition signatures, partnerships with non-profit organizations and community groups, dedicated supporters speaking at school board meetings, and hours of conversations with school district officials. Their efforts expanded beyond internet censorship to combat banning books on race, the Holocaust, and LGBTQ+ topics.


Anna Siegel

Yarmouth, ME | 16

Inspired to create a network of youth climate activists in her home state of Maine, Anna founded ME Strikes in 2019 to have a Maine presence in the global climate strikes that occurred in March and September 2019. ME Strikes worked with seven municipalities across Maine to have them declare a climate emergency. At the same time, she was a founding member of the Maine Youth for Climate Justice (MYCJ) coalition, helping to build that coalition and set visionary goals for municipal and state climate policy. ME Strikes and the MYCJ coalition rallied support for legislation that would divest state funds from fossil fuels this past year. Anna’s work, along with an intergenerational coalition of adult allies, legislators, pensioners, and other youth organizers, contributed to the success of the first-in-the-nation legislation, a $1.3 billion divestment of fossil fuels which serves as a model for other states. The success of LD 99 is a testament to the power of intensely collaborative grassroots advocacy. Anna co-founded Maine Youth Action in 2021, an organization that is taking on new tangible, bold, and equitable policy efforts all centered around the goal of repairing the world.


Lindsay Sobel

Chatsworth, CA | 18

After visiting one of the largest homeless encampments in the world in Los Angeles, located not far from her own hometown, Lindsay saw an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of people experiencing homelessness by founding Shoes for Souls. What began with cleaning out her closet to provide gently worn shoes to those in need has grown into a movement with more than 52,000 pairs of shoes donated over the past six years.


Sophie Wolters

Sammamish, WA | 18

Valuing the transformative impact that an academic tutor had on her own ability to believe in herself, Sophie was troubled that families from economically disadvantaged backgrounds often cannot afford extra academic support. Sophie created Student Connection with her brother Josh to make a difference in the lives of students and provide the same motivational support that made such a deep impact on her own life. Since its founding in 2019, Student Connection has paired 500 students and trained tutors for year-long tutoring, logging 15,000 hours of tutoring sessions.


Dylan Zajac

Hoboken, NJ | 19

When he was just 15 years old, Dylan saw that lack of access to technology was often holding students back from completing online homework and preventing adults from applying for jobs. Dylan realized that there was an opportunity to close this gap and provide access to computers to those who cannot afford them by refurbishing computers that others had intended to throw away.