“TeensGive allows teens to give back to their communities in ways that directly address the inequities in our education system. In this way, I am ‘paying it forward’ by hopefully creating awareness so that more people build opportunities in their own communities.”
When Helena Zimmerman initiated her service project in preparation for her bat mitzvah, she realized many other teens’ projects were limited to clothing drives and daylong clean-up projects, which provide critical services, but can feel short-term and ineffective. In coordination with a classmate, Helena has helped high school students find their own tikkun olam projects by co-founding TeensGive.org, a non-profit creating rewarding and flexible volunteer opportunities for high school students. With the help of a $120,000 grant from Google, TeensGive.org has grown to 4,000 student members across the country, with more than 200 volunteers tutoring students on TeensGive’s virtual volunteering platform. TeensGive.org also offers Counting Cupcakes, a workshop helping teen volunteers lead a team in creating a real-life bakery, while learning business and life skills they can teach to others. Helena also has received grants through her school made possible through The E.E. Ford Foundation and was honored with The Prudential Spirit of Community Award. She and her project have been featured in the Huffington Post and Greenwich Patch. Helena is currently writing a book about entrepreneurship.