The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards were announced last week. The award is sponsored by the Helen Diller Family Foundation and recognizes up to ten people between ages 13 and 19 for significant volunteerism. Tikkun olam is a Jewish concept that means “repair the world”. The award grants teens who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and dedication to projects $36,000 to further their philanthropic work. They will be recognized at a formal ceremony this summer at a gala luncheon.
Anyone can nominate a teen for the award outside of family members. The nominee must be working in a leadership capacity for the greater good and be self-identified as Jewish. Teens may also apply on their own with several letters of recommendation. The award mandates that five recipients be from the state of California. Other award winners this year hailed from New York, Iowa, Rhode Island, Masschusetts and Missouri. All winners except for one are 17-19 in age.
Nick Lowinger of Cranston, RI is the youngest recipient. At 14, Nick started the Gotta Have Sole Foundation last year as part of a bar mitzvah project. The foundation distributes new shoes to homeless shelters and has already spread well beyond his hometown to eleven states. They have already given away over 6,000 pairs of shoes, and Lowinger has hopes to expand the foundation nationally. Other recipients led organizations in a wide range of causes, including a poetry club, a puzzle maker for Alzheimer’s patients, advocacy and teen volunteer action networks. Several of the winners are also working on environmental challenges, such as solar. Jordon Elist from Beverly Hills collects recyclables and uses the income to buy products for food banks.