Announcing the 2024 Build a Better Future Scholarship Winners

I don’t think a single year goes by where I don’t comment on how hard choosing scholarship winners is. Spending time reading through each application and hearing about how each of these kids is making a difference in their communities is so encouraging. I want to at the very least give each of them a big hug and tell them they are making the world a better place!

We are so grateful for each applicant we received this year and inspired by the work they are doing. Five top projects stood out to us in the end and here they are…

Jack Voelker: All Latitudes Lacrosse

Jack noticed lacrosse players from opposing teams sharing equipment because they did not have enough gear to go around for everyone. Instead of keeping this as a simple observation, he did something about it, because he felt the players deserved more. He gathered gently used equipment to donate to teams in need around his community, and eventually grew and grew his project internationally.

Jack is our top winner and recipient of the $5,000 grant towards furthering his project, which he plans to put towards reusable period products for girls who are unable to play lacrosse during the week they are menstruating because of the lack of period products available to them.

You can see more of his work on his Instagram account:

https://www.instagram.com/alllatitudeslacrosse

Thrisha Kalpatthi: Pittsburgh Metro Math

Thrisha has a love for participating in math competitions in her community but felt discouraged by the lack of diversity at these math competitions. She decided if there was anyone that would do anything about it, it was her! She brainstormed what barriers were keeping everyone from being involved and set to work to create math competitions that break these barriers and include everyone.

On top of creating an inclusive environment, she also worked hard to generate donations for The Brashear Association, a local non-profit that works towards community resources.

Elia Woods: The Recycling Project

Elia is an Arizona teen who found an impactful way to make a difference in her community. Water is one of the most basic human needs, so she took something some people have an overabundance of (reusable water bottles) and found a way to distribute them to community members who needed better water access. Not only did she do this project, but she also made sure accessible water spouts for filling the bottles were available.

You can see more at her website:

https://therecyclingproject.org/

Josephine Gardiner: Pool Panthers

Josie Gardiner is an avid swimmer who realizes the privilege and lack of representation of the sport. Water safety is also a big priority for her, so she set out to find a way to help more kids become water-safe and give them proper swimming gear. By providing free swimming lessons in low-income housing neighborhoods, she was able to reach her goal and provide lessons to the children who needed it most.

Sahana Gupta: Hani’s Heros

Sahana saw the positive impact the foster care system was making for children by providing them with their needs, but she felt like she could do more by helping provide for their wants as well, as those often are overlooked. She worked with her local foster care center to make free, extravagant birthday cakes for as many children as possible, even connecting with local bakeries to widen her ability to reach more children.

Scholarship Optional Strategy Plan Due Date Reminder

Due date reminder!

Our optional Strategy Plan is a Google Form that gives you a very small glimpse of our final scholarship submission. It’s a few questions that generate critical thinking about the project you’re working on and planning to submit for the final application. It gives your project organization and meaning.

On top of all of this, it’s an opportunity for feedback from our scholarship team. Each strategy plan submission is read and then responded to with specific feedback as well as all questions submitted are answered.

This part of the scholarship process is not required but can be extremely helpful and can give scholarship applicants a big advantage.

The strategy plan for 2024 is due on March 1, so the deadline is quickly approaching. If you know anyone planning on submitting a scholarship application this year, send this their way!

Even if you miss the strategy plan deadline, you are still qualified to submit a final scholarship application by April 8, 2024.

To see more about our scholarship program, head here.

From Scholarship Winner to Beloved Community Award Winner

When choosing a scholarship winner, we are always looking for projects that have ways in place to impact communities for years to come, not just once. So it excites us when we see our scholarship winners continue to do amazing things with what they are working on, long after the scholarship money has been awarded. 

A 2023 scholarship winner, Gitanjali Rao, has recently let us know that she is being awarded today with a Beloved Community Award for Technological Innovation for the same work that she submitted for her scholarship application. 

“The Beloved Community Awards is one of the marquee events of The King Center’s week-long annual King holiday experience. The awards recognize national and international individuals and organizations that exemplify excellence in leadership, pursuit of social justice, and commitment to creating the Beloved Community in the tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mrs. Coretta Scott King.” –www.handsonatlanta.org

Gitanjali is an amazing student who is always working hard and finding more ways to serve, learn, and research. We are so proud of her and all of her amazing achievements! A big congratulations to you today, Gitanjali!

What We’re Looking For in a 2024 Scholarship Applicant

Our 2024 scholarship is officially open and taking applications! You can see our 2023 winners, as well as all past winners, here.

The Honors Graduation scholarship program is specifically for graduating high school teens with the intention of attending a college, university, or trade school the following school year. Our scholarship platform is project-based, with building a better future for your own community at the center of it.

Our scholarship becomes increasingly competitive each year, and our winners are submitting better community projects each time. So what exactly are we looking for in our 2024 scholarship applicants?

Community-Based Projects: Projects that directly impact and influence the immediate community and better the people and environment.

Community-Driven Students: We’re looking for students active in their community and students driven to see it grow, change, and better.

Students that Care: We are seeking out students who care about their community, their project, and the people they are serving.

Students Fighting for a Change: Anyone can look around and see a problem. They might even have a way to solve the problem. We’re looking for problem solvers. The students who not only see the problem and come up with the solution but also act on it, too. The students that are fighting for a change.

We cannot wait for the 2024 applications to be submitted next spring so we can read more about the problems teens see in their communities and their ideas and actions to alleviate those issues. Together we truly can build a better future!

The 2024 Scholarship is LIVE

Our 2023 scholarship season has come to a close. The applications we received absolutely blew us away and choosing our final 5 winners was harder than ever. We are constantly inspired by our scholarship applicants and the ways they better their communities.

Our 2024 scholarship is NOW LIVE. This means you can read the rules and submit a feedback form, as well as your final application (although, I would recommend holding off on your final application until the due date is closer!)

If you know of a graduating high school senior, would you please send them the link to our 2024 Build a Better Future Scholarship? All seniors deserve to know about this application and anyone sharing on their social media or through word of mouth always helps us reach those that need to see it.

As always, our email is open for any questions or feedback. Do not hesitate to reach out!

Meet Victor Caceres, A 2023 Scholarship Recipient

Meet Victor Caceres, one of our scholarship recipients. Victor is a graduating high school senior in the state of California that worked hard to renovate and build up his community food pantry. He writes, 

“My community is very much a middle to lower-class community. The people are kind and for the most part helpful. At St. Bridget of Sweden Catholic church, the people at Martha’s Pantry needed help to restore their run-down food bank. The issue I observed was that the pantry was not properly equipped to help the community with the distribution of food and other products to families in need of it. A lack of refrigerators and shelving units left the pantry and its volunteers vulnerable to properly helping out the community. My project aimed to provide the equipment and make a better environment for the pantry through the cleaning, painting, and installation of refrigerators and shelving units to it. Apart from this, my project beautified the facility so it and the St. Bridget community can now enjoy and engage more with the community at large.”

Victor is very involved in his community and really enjoyed being able to give back to those that need it the most. 

“Many people face hunger in the world. Los Angeles is no exception to this. The project’s main purpose was to renovate the rooms and install shelves for the pantry. In the big picture, the project will help the community by providing canned goods & non-perishable items for free to many of the less fortunate in the area. I believe my project will not only benefit the church community at St. Bridgets but many of the people who live in the Van Nuys area, especially the elderly who frequent Martha’s Pantry throughout the year for their goods. More than 200 people rely on the pantry per month and this number totals closer to 400 during the holidays.”  

He set his sights high and worked to make the pantry a usable, happy space for everyone. 

“The project is greatly needed as lately, the pantry has been suffering from a lack of donations. Simultaneously, the state of the building is getting worse. The community engagement needs to increase. Martha’s Pantry is a staple in our community. Although the volunteers are there, the current condition of the pantry impedes the amount of reach the pantry has. With my project, Martha’s Pantry is better than new and has helped over 200 people per month who rely on it for their food. My goal was to equip the pantry with all necessary equipment in the short run & in the long run. This along with the beautification of the pantry will have greater engagement and outreach with the community.”

Victor’s project is inspiring to all those that hear it. His dedication to not only Martha’s Pantry but to the community members that rely on the food pantry is incredible and a story worth sharing! 

Scholarship Update

Our 2023 scholarship season is coming to a close. Our winners from this year blew us away with the impact they made on their communities and even the globe.

You can read an overview of the winners here.

We’ve also done personal interviews with almost all of the recipients. We still have one to come, the timing for an interview hasn’t worked out quite yet, but it’s coming!

Read Jalen’s story here

Read Fiona and Esther’s story here

Read Gitanjali’s story here

Read Austin’s story here

COMING SOON Read Victor’s story here

We’re also well on our way to bringing you the 2024 Build a Better Future scholarship! Once the updated scholarship has been successfully published and is live, we’ll let you know so that you can send the scholarship application to your favorite 2024 graduating high school senior.

Thank you to all of the 2023 scholarship winners for building a better future.