Sherman Oaks, CA | 14
2015 Award Recipient
Riley Gantt was only 10 years old when, on a field trip to a lower-income elementary school in Los Angeles, she discovered that many students in the area lived below the poverty line and didn’t have access to basic school supplies. After speaking with a girl whose mother couldn’t afford a small box of crayons, Riley realized that the lack of supplies inhibited students from doing their homework and left them falling behind in school. This encounter motivated Riley to march straight into the principal’s office and announce that she was starting an organization to help provide students with the supplies they needed. Riley made good on her promise, conducting bake sales, garage sales, and letter-writing campaigns, along with rallying more than 50 supporters, to establish Rainbow Pack, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing low-income elementary school students with backpacks full of the supplies they need to be successful learners. Four years later, Rainbow Pack has distributed more than 5,500 backpacks and raised $55,000 in cash and in-kind donations to help close the achievement gap for less-fortunate elementary school students. Riley’s immediate aim is to raise $40,000 in 2015 to help an additional 4,000 students. She is also planning an awareness campaign to educate communities about students falling behind due to lack of supplies. Riley ultimately hopes to put Rainbow Packs in the hands of as many of the 35,000 elementary school students in LAUSD District 6 living below the poverty level, so all of them can reach their full potential.