Jack Voelker All Latitudes Lacrosse: Our 2024 Scholarship Winner

Our top Build a Better Future Scholarship winner for 2024 was Jack Voelker. Being the top winner means that he also received a $5,000 grant to further the work of his project in addition to a $10,000 college scholarship. 

In Jack’s version of building a better future, he started with a simple observation while visiting Croatia. He writes, 

“I am a dual Croatian-American citizen, and my family and I regularly go there to visit relatives. Being an avid lacrosse player, I went to a local scrimmage. This would have been the end of my experience but for one observation that led to one question that led to a mission: I noticed that as each player ran off the field, he would hand the substitute his sweaty helmet to wear. This repeated several times. I asked a player on the sideline if his teammates had forgotten their helmets. He said no—they didn’t have enough for everyone because they were expensive. My mind flashed to the new helmets we received every year for our club team and piles of perfectly good “last year’s” helmets collecting dust in garages all over Long Island. The next year, I returned with a dozen donated helmets and was met with deep appreciation. In subsequent summers, I would bring as much donated equipment as I could. Word spread through the small international lacrosse community about the American kid helping in Croatia, and other developing programs reached out. My response was to found All Latitudes Lacrosse (ALL), a nonprofit dedicated to growing the sport globally.”

His love for the game and for the people ran deep, so he knew he needed to make a difference. Once he made the initial jump to donating supplies he was able to connect with more and more people and organizations to help him further his project. 

“I have created All Latitudes Lacrosse, to connect donated lacrosse equipment from my community on Long Island with developing programs around the world. Here in the United States, most equipment gets discarded after the purchaser no longer needs it. Thus, the solution to inaccessibility to equipment around the world was connecting the equipment that is outgrown or no longer used here, with where it is needed. However, doing so was difficult, as simply shipping the equipment is expensive. The biggest challenge was finding low-cost or even free ways to get 2 teams’ worth of gear to each of the programs that I helped. Therefore, I had to “get creative.” In one case, I partnered with a safari company headquartered in New York City to get the equipment to Nairobi.”

On top of donating equipment and supplies to these communities across the globe, Jack has also been able to create connections with the players and get to know them even better. He told us about his experience, 

“The project was effective in its ability to reach such a wide variety of programs around the world. For example, at the 2018 World Lacrosse Championship in Netanya, Israel, I connected donated lacrosse equipment from my community with a local youth program. While there, I ran a clinic, in which I taught the local children how to play lacrosse. Despite a language barrier, I experienced a deep connection with these children through the sport. In 2022, I connected donated equipment with a youth program in Ghana. During the Wildfire Lacrosse Festival (a celebration of the inauguration of this lacrosse program), I spoke with the children via video call. I spoke about my experiences, balancing school with sports, and how sports can make you a better student. Again, I was able to see firsthand the power of sports in bringing people together and building relationships.”

As for the grant money, Jack has big dreams as well. He was chatting with a friend about the challenges that come with playing lacrosse and it gave him a great idea on how he can expand to help even more students to play. He writes, 

“We spoke about our individual experiences in the international lacrosse community, and what the biggest challenges are for the growth of the sport. He told me about one of the biggest struggles that his community faces. Throughout the course of any given month, girls are unable to attend school or participate in sports for about a week due to their menstrual cycle. This means that for 25% of the time, girls have to stay home. As a result, it is difficult to increase participation for girls in sports – especially a sport like lacrosse which already faces its own challenges.”

“Therefore, I would like to use the grant to purchase and send period underwear. I would like to approach the company Thinx and work out an agreement. For example, I would ask them if it would be possible that for every one item that I purchase, they would be willing to donate one or two. I have done something similar for the boy’s lacrosse program. I started a “Cups for Kenya” equipment drive. I reached out to Shock Doctor and asked them for a donation. I purchased 50 protective cups and they donated another 100 cups. It is an overlooked but critical piece of equipment for players. Access to this product for women in communities like Reagan’s would drastically improve the quality of life for these girls by allowing them to receive a more complete education, as well as participate in sports.”

We are so excited to see where All Latitutes Lacrosse goes in the future and we are so proud to have Jack as our 2024 top scholarship recipient! 

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:


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:


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.

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!

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.

Meet Jalen Coleman, Our 2023 Top Scholarship Recipient

Meet our top scholarship recipient, Jalen Coleman. Not only did Jalen receive a $10,000 scholarship towards college tuition, but he also received a $5,000 grant for his organization Outside J’s Sunday Fundays. Jalen saw a need within the parks and rec department within his city and worked hand in hand with them to bring new basketball courts and tournaments to their community. He writes, 

“The game of basketball belongs to everyone. If you have a ball and a hoop, you have a game. Unfortunately, the sport of basketball for kids has been privatized and commercialized into a pay-for-play model, where travel, cost, and fees are required before kids ever get to see the ball go through the basket. This has created a demand for gym space, coaches, players, playing time, and winning which has caused the stakes to rise, and the culture of sports to become hyper-competitive. I seek to return the game to its roots. We invite all skill levels, youth ages, and genders to play at newly refurbished courts for FREE. Outside J allows all who want to hoop, the ability to hoop without the hyper-competitive, money-driven baggage that comes with sports.” 

Jalen worked to inspire many in his community. During a phone interview we held with him he spoke of his passion for the game and for creating an inclusive environment for everyone to be a part of. He commented that his least favorite part was the work it took to take everything down and clean up, but it was always all worth it to watch the entire event come together and see everyone having a good time. Jalen also writes, 

“I am a lover of the game of basketball, and I REALLY like playing pickup basketball at outdoor basketball courts. I realize that in this technology-based, travel sports era, that many youths are not participating in sports in a free-play environment. Travel sports requires money, time, transportation, and fees that eliminates a lot of the youth that need to play the most. I decided to combine my love for sports, and my love for community, by creating Outside J, during the Covid-19 Lockdown. I connected with my city parks and rec department, my local schools and churches, to create a website, and prepare for quarterly events that are FREE for youth in our community.” 

Our team at HonorsGradU has been so impressed with Jalen and his commitment to helping his city for the better. Jalen has more free events he’s working on in the future and plans to attend college in the fall as well.