Introducing the 2014 LearnServe Innovation Award Winners
Opportunities and activities for high school students have proliferated over the past decade. The tools for communicating these opportunities, however, have remained surprisingly constant: bulletin boards, video announcements, loud-speakers, and email lists.
Rockville High School student Xavier Rivera plans to change that. Xavier is launching Currently, a mobile application and website designed as a virtual bulletin board for school community announcements. School administrators, student club leaders, and coaches will be able to reach students with schedules, updates, events and announcements on their mobile devices – making communication more seamless, pertinent, and personal.
Xavier is a winner of the 2014 LearnServe Innovation Award (Montgomery and Prince George’s County). He represents one of 53 student teams from across the DC Metro area who pitched their social venture ideas at the 5th Annual LearnServe Panels and Venture Fair on Thursday, April 24 at the School Without Walls.
MEET THE WINNERS
DC | Winner, DC Public and Charter Schools Category
Simone Banks-Mackey, F.I.G.H.T.
Cesar Chavez Public Charter School for Public Policy: Parkside
More than 1,600 youth live homeless in a given year, far exceeding the 77 beds reserved for homeless youth. Simone experienced this first-hand after her family was forced out of their home in NE DC. F.I.G.H.T. – which stands for Finding, Inspiring, Guiding Homeless Teens – will build a positive and supportive environment for homeless teens through empowerment workshops, dynamic speakers, and academic advising.
DC | Runner-Up, DC Public and Charter Schools Category
Asa Canty and Matthew Smee, Hoop Dreams DC
Woodrow Wilson Senior High School
Avid basketball players, Asa and Matt wondered why some of their friends had to travel 45 minutes by bus within DC in order to find a decent basketball court. They have surveyed students from all four quadrants in Washington DC to identify the courts most in need of an upgrade. Through fundraisers and volunteer support they will refurbish these courts: replacing nets, re-painting lines, picking up trash, and ensuring the courts remain safe, inspiring places to play.
MD | Winner, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Category
Xavier Rivera, Currently
Rockville High School
Zone out during morning announcements and you might miss the message about your basketball game that afternoon, auditions for the orchestra, or a room change for the next Young Changemaker’s meeting. Currently, designed as an app and website, serves as a virtual bulletin board — allowing students and administrators to personalize and customize the community announcements that matter to them most.
MD | Runner-Up, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County Category
Fatima Talib, STEM People to People
Wheaton High School
Wheaton High School boasts multiple science and technology-oriented Academies – but until last month, hosted no science fair. STEM People to People introduced Wheaton’s inaugural science fair, an opportunity to showcase their research and innovations to an audience of science professionals from the community. The science fair will become an annual event, hosted by Wheaton students and faculty, offering students the opportunity to conduct and showcase original research while still in high school.
VA | Winner, Fairfax County Category
Jennifer Kang and Rebecca Soulen, The Atomic League
Annandale High School
Annandale High School students’ families hail from more than 90 countries, and speak more than 50 languages. Yet there is very little interaction between ethnic groups. The Atomic League will bring together the school’s myriad ethnic organizations in the context of quarterly service activities – working jointly with the leaders and sponsors to weave a tighter Annandale community.
VA | Runners Up, Fairfax County, VA
Katie Pruitt and Mira Sridharan, PLATES
Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology
Even in one of the most affluent counties in the United States, students come to school hungry. While federal food aid programs offer students free or reduced-priced meals during the school year, these programs may not sufficiently cover school breaks – most notably between the end of the school year and the start of summer programs, when children may go without a guaranteed meal. PLATES will collect non-perishable items, as well as healthy produced donated by local farmers, which they will share with families during the weeks at the start and end of the summer not covered by food assistance programs.
IND | Winner, Independent Schools
Savita Potarazu, The Fine Hearts
Sidwell Friends School
Between 2006 and 2013, public schools in the United States reduced their investment in art supplies and equipment by 84%. In the process, students enjoy fewer opportunities for creative expression during the school day. The Fine Hearts links artistically talented high school students – with expertise in mediums as diverse as theater, choir, photography, ceramics, drawing, painting, and creative writing – with schools and community centers in need to expanded arts programming.
Ind | Runner-Up, Independent Schools
Kenneth Coleman, Swim to Live
Sidwell Friends School
In the United States, the second leading cause of accidental death in children is drowning – and 1 in 3 minority children don’t know how to swim. Swimming can be a fun recreational fitness activity – not something to fear. Swim to Live believes that water safety education is the best way to end the epidemic of drowning deaths. Swim to Live brings free swim lessons to residents at apartment complexes in Montgomery County, at the invitation of property owners, so that these children can learn to love swimming, not fear it.
Inspired by what you’ve read? Consider a gift to LearnServe. Contributions to LearnServe made by May 30 will be matched, through the generous support of our Board of Directors. Invest in next year’s LearnServe Fellows online at www.learn-serve.org/donate.