MEET THE WINNERSA yearbook of the winners of the Barron Prize
DeepikaLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Invented a solar-powered water filtration device
Age at Winning Prize17
Home StateNew Hampshire
Deepika was inspired to begin her work three years ago following a trip to India to visit her grandparents, where she saw children collecting and drinking polluted water from nearby streams. She learned that worldwide, many children spend more time collecting water than attending school and that 4,000 children die each day from water-related diseases. Convinced that she could create an easy way to filter water, she began conducting research at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, where an engineering professor supervised her work, which combines materials science, photochemistry, and biology. Deepika is committed to educating children about the importance of clean water and has spoken to groups and schools around the world. “My work has taught me to be persistent and not give up, and I feel it’s made me a more enlightened and humble person,” says Deepika.
Emma and Julia
Founders, Books with No Bounds
Age at Winning Prize16 & 17
The sisters’ work is born of their own love of reading and their conviction that all children deserve access to books. They have organized hundreds of book drives and have received more than 20,000 new books from publishers – all of them stored, sorted, and boxed for shipping from the basement of their home. Faced with the challenge and staggering cost of getting heavy boxes of books by air to native fly-in-only communities – $50,000 in shipping costs and donated air services so far – the girls have sold homemade candy, created raffles, and knocked on doors to raise funds. Three times, they have traveled north for ten hours on five small planes to visit a First Nations community where their books are making a huge impact. They have also traveled to schools across North America and to events around the world, speaking about the potential for young people to change the world and the need to work for peace and justice. “I have a voice and the power to create change and, like Margaret Mead, I ‘never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world,’” says Emma. Adds Julia, “This work has taught me there are no bounds to what you can do and who you can be in this world.”
EvanLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Creates Braille nature trails for the visually impaired
Age at Winning Prize17
Passionate about nature since a young age, Evan has volunteered for National Park Service educational programs and founded the Georgia Young Birders club. He conducts scientific research to repair habitats damaged by road construction and helps with a nearby sea turtle nesting project. His newest venture, Nature for All, trains youth volunteers to guide walks for children with visual impairments and other disabilities. Evan is using the trails he’s built as prototypes for more Braille trails in the Atlanta area and across the U.S., and is lobbying legislators to better fund programs for the visually impaired. “I’ve learned how important it is to speak up for what you believe in – for yourself and for others,” says Evan.
Founder, Ears for Years
Age at Winning Prize18
Grace began her work at age 14 following her father’s diagnosis with a brain tumor, which left him with partial permanent hearing loss. She decided to volunteer at a theater center for deaf children, who taught her Sign Language, deaf culture norms, and the perspective that deafness isn’t a disability but rather a different way of life. Inspired by those children, she founded Ears for Years, creating a club at her high school, now 80 members strong. She provided her first hearing aids to a school for the deaf in Mexico where she conducted hearing exams, made ear molds, and then fitted the children, allowing some to instantly hear their mother’s voice for the first time. Grace uses low-cost hearing aids with solar-powered chargers and batteries, making them a good choice for developing countries. She squeezes her non-profit work into her school days, once having to leave history class to take a phone call from the FDA in order to get a shipment of hearing aids out of customs. “You start truly living when you start living for something bigger than yourself,” says Grace. “I’ve realized my capacity to create change in the world.”
Harper and Maggie
Founders, Books and a Blanket
Age at Winning Prize11 & 9
The girls fundraise for their project by selling friendship bracelets, requesting books and blankets in lieu of birthday presents, organizing fundraisers, and asking for donations. They have also reached out to community groups, book clubs, and Scout troops to donate books and make blankets. They recently began partnering with the local Habitat for Humanity, Voices for Children, and food bank so that children in families benefitting from those services will receive a Books and a Blanket crate. They have also started shipping their mini-libraries to children in other states and overseas. “I’ve learned that I can make a difference in the world,” says Harper. Maggie adds, “I think if you try hard enough, you will succeed and that is what we did!”
JamesLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Co-Founder, Project Green Teens
Age at Winning Prize18
A lifelong lover of the Chesapeake Bay, James began his environmental activism by organizing a clean-up of the tidal creek next to his middle school. In three years, he and his classmates worked to remove almost 6,000 pounds of pollutants from that stream. He has also helped lead a local Ban the Bag initiative, lobbying city and state leaders to permit localities to tax plastic bags as a way to discourage their use. “Years ago, I realized what a unique treasure the Chesapeake Bay is and that it had to be somebody’s responsibility to restore it,” says James. “I decided to protect what I loved.”
JoshLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, Elephant Highway
Age at Winning Prize17
Home StateNew Jersey
Josh was first inspired to help the elephants three years ago following a trip to Kenya, where he and his family marveled at and photographed elephants for two weeks, learning more about them from their guide, a Maasai elder. The group was horrified to hear one night that poachers had killed a female elephant not far from the lodge where they were staying. Returning home, Josh vowed to do what he could to protect the elephants. He launched Elephant Highway, naming his new non-profit in tribute to his Maasai guide who had used the phrase to describe the paths elephants make in the bush and that poachers use to track them. Josh has used his filmmaking passion to create a powerful documentary titled One Every Fifteen Minutes, highlighting the alarming rate at which elephants are being killed. “Together, we can turn the tide and save these exceptional animals,” says Josh. “We can show the world that we care and that we stand with the elephants.”
LynneaLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, Junior Refuge Rangers
Age at Winning Prize18
Lynnea founded Junior Refuge Rangers after years of volunteering at a wildlife refuge in Alviso, California, a community with few resources and great need. Her program uses hands-on activities, habitat hikes, and interactive experiments to engage youth organizations, local school groups, Scout troops, and the public in learning about the important role of the National Wildlife Refuge System in conserving critical habitat and endangered species. To facilitate the program’s nationwide adoption, Lynnea has authored an instruction manual and created a comprehensive how-to kit for the use of other National Wildlife Refuges. She has also worked with Fish and Wildlife staff to present a national, hour-long webinar on her program. “I’m committed to keeping places wild for generations to come,” says Lynnea. “I hope to instill in the youth of today a sense of environmental optimism, appreciation, and motivation.”
Creator of Think Twice Campaign
Age at Winning Prize17
Mary-Pat began calling advertising agencies for help in creating and placing billboards and didn’t receive a single return phone call. That’s when she decided to fly to Chicago for a surprise visit to Burrell Communications, one of the world’s leading African-American advertising firms – and located in one of the world’s most violent cities. The COO was so impressed with Mary-Pat’s moxie and determination that she met with the teen herself and helped her create a budget and find funding opportunities. When Mary-Pat won a $50,000 Peace First Prize, she finally had her seed money and by July of 2014, had placed 35 Think Twice billboards across Atlanta. She has traveled to nearly 30 states and spoken to more than 200 youth groups and schools, asking young people to Think Twice. She also serves as youth co-chair for Cities United, a group of 38 mayors working on the issue of gun violence, and as National Youth Director of the Reverend Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, promoting civil rights. “I was tired of attending more funerals than graduations and realized that change starts with me,” says Mary-Pat. “With dedication and perseverance, you truly can bring awareness to a problem.”
MeaganLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Works to protect endangered wildlife species
Age at Winning Prize18
An animal lover since preschool, Meagan began volunteering in sixth grade at the local zoo and then as a citizen scientist helping to track animals in remote areas. In response to the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, she created her “Coins for the Coast” campaign, raising $5,000 for sea turtle and bird rescue groups. She is currently working in the Conservation Genetics Lab at the University of Arizona, analyzing the DNA of several species of big cats such as mountain lions. She hopes to determine the animals’ travel patterns as they cross from Mexico into the U.S. to find out if the border wall is restricting the cats’ movement, which could limit genetic diversity and compromise the animals’ health. “I am as shy and reclusive as many of the species I observe and protect, but I speak out nonetheless,” says Meagan. “I have a voice and they do not, so I use mine on their behalf.”
MollyLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Founder, Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption
Age at Winning Prize17
Home StateNorth Carolina
In 2011, Molly tapped her grandparents’ knowledge of soap making to develop a line of soaps she sells to fundraise for native turtle protection programs. With each soap sale, she also asks customers to sign her conservation pledge and has gathered approximately 1,000 signatures so far. In recent years, Molly has partnered with the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to create her STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Leadership Camp, which she offered for the second time this past summer. “I’ve learned that positive change takes time, and that it helps to ‘take the long view,’ says Molly. “But I know I’m on the right path and that I want to help change the environment for the better.”
Founder, Pearce Q. Foundation
Age at Winning Prize18
Pearce began her work following six months as an inpatient at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she endured 31 rounds of high-dose radiation and 120 days of chemotherapy. Surrounded and supported by other hospitalized children fighting cancer, Pearce realized it was their strength, courage, and hope that sustained her. As a survivor, she vowed to make a difference in the lives of children with cancer. Pearce has kept her promise, meeting often with recently-diagnosed children and speaking at local and national events to share her story. She has forged partnerships with Stand Up 2 Cancer and the Make-A-Wish-Foundation, and her largest annual fundraiser, the 4 Miles of Hope Walk/Run, draws hundreds of participants each April. “Having cancer taught me lessons of courage, hard work, bravery, and service,” says Pearce. “Those lessons formed the basis of who I am today and who I want to become.”
Founder, All Kids Should Play
Age at Winning Prize17
Robbie launched his project after learning of 150 pairs of used roller skates at a local school that were gathering dust and destined for the dumpster. Certain that kids somewhere would enjoy the skates, he started making phone calls and within a week, had delivered them to cheering children at a Baltimore recreation center. Galvanized by that powerful first experience, Robbie resolved to continue “playing it forward.” He created a website, began asking schools and recreation centers for used equipment, and convinced Dick’s Sporting Goods and Under Armour to both donate new gear and help him spread awareness of his mission. Robbie passes on much of what he acquires to the Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks, which now boasts a storage shed full of equipment that teams can tap. When a boys’ baseball team recently needed ten gloves, it was simply a matter of unlocking the shed. Groups from all over Maryland and several states beyond now host equipment collections in their own communities and send Robbie truckload after truckload of usable gear. “I’ve realized that the greatest difference I can make is through rallying others in the community to make differences of their own,” says Robbie. “That’s what service is all about.”
RyanLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Fundraises to protect our oceans
Age at Winning Prize8
As a first-grader, Ryan wrote a book to explain how children can “be the solution to ocean pollution.” He donates all profits from the sale of his book to Ocean Conservancy. For the past several years, he has also created a short film for the annual Youth Ocean Conservation Film Competition, submitting winning entries that have been shared by Ocean Conservancy and Greenpeace USA, among others. Ryan has organized extensive beach clean-ups and used a $1,000 grant from Youth Service America to rally friends and family in planting over 2,000 sea oats at a local beach. “When I was younger, I realized that trash affected the ocean animals and it made me feel sad,” says Ryan. “I really wanted to make it better so I started my project!”
SonaliLeaf indicates winners who were honored for projects that benefit the environment.
Age at Winning Prize14
Sonali launched her project as an 11-year-old, when she received $100 from her parents at Christmastime with the stipulation she use it to make a difference in someone’s life. She decided to raise an additional $150 in order to fund one cleft lip surgery through Smile Train, and to do so by collecting and redeeming recyclables, which she was learning about in her sixth grade science class. When she easily met her first goal, she set her next at $2,000. Three years later, she has collected and redeemed well over a half-million recyclables. Outfitted in long rubber gloves and with help from her brother and friends, Sonali collects, sorts, and redeems 2,000 cans and bottles in order to raise each $100. She regularly collects recyclables from a number of businesses and receives bag upon bag of bottles and cans on her doorstep. “I’ve learned that you can make a difference in the lives of others and help our earth without needing to have a lot of money or power,” says Sonali. “Nothing is impossible if you are dedicated to a cause.”
Age 17, IllinoisDaniella founded Project G.I.V.E. (Go, Innovate, Volunteer, Educate) to connect schoolchildren in the U.S. with children around the world in order to teach empathy, promote cultural understanding, and foster international friendships. Initially created as a pen pal program when she was in third grade, Daniella’s project now supports children’s education in developing countries, including laptops loaded with educational content for a school in Uganda and Internet connections to schools in India. G.I.V.E. has also sent more than 1,000 pair of flip-flops to children overseas, each pair signed with messages of hope. Daniella recently received an Honorable Mention at the White House Student Film Festival for her film about the potential for young people to change the world. “I’ve learned that repairing a small corner of the world is possible with determination, courage, and imagination,” says Daniella. “I will continue to believe that small acts of kindness matter.”
On the Web
Age 15, FloridaSarah has distributed over half a million books to children in need through her Just 1 Book program. She began her work in fourth grade, when she rallied her entire school to bring in “just one book” for a child in need. When that initial drive yielded enough books to create an entire library in a neighborhood center, Sarah envisioned bringing more books to more children with the help of an “ice cream truck for books.” She soon found herself with just that – a bookmobile in need of major repairs, offered as a gift from county officials. After months of renovations, Sarah began scheduling her bookmobile for regular visits to low-income communities throughout Central Florida. She happily hands out gently-used books as well as brand new ones, thanks to a recent partnership with Scholastic. “Books have shaped who I am,” says Sarah. “I like to imagine what the books we distribute are doing for the children who receive them, and the difference books are making in their lives.”
Age 9, New YorkConnor and his brother Jackson co-founded Marbles4MS and in four years, have raised $80,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society through the sale of their marble artwork. As a 5-year-old, Connor asked if he could put paper in the cigar box storing his marble collection, roll the marbles in paint, and shake it all together. He liked the resulting artwork and announced he’d begin selling marble paintings to raise money to help find a cure for MS, a disease that challenges his mother and several other family members. Connor and Jackson have sold over 1,000 paintings and have expanded to include marble-art Christmas ornaments, greeting cards, bike jerseys, and vases. They’ve also launched their Marbles4ManKind project, rallying their peers to organize events such as pancake breakfasts and running races to benefit groups including the Sierra Club and American Cancer Society. “I won’t stop until MS is gone forever!” says Connor.
On the Web
Age 15, CaliforniaCorinne founded Warm Winters to collect jackets, gloves, and hats from the unclaimed lost and found at ski resorts and distribute them to the homeless. So far, her non-profit has collected 10,000 items of warm clothing and delivered them to 6,500 homeless community members. She has created a formal partnership with the National Ski Areas Association and is currently working with 17 ski resorts in eight states. Corinne trains young ski team members at the resorts to lead local efforts and involves groups such as Scout troops in sorting and delivering the clothing. An avid ski racer, Corinne began her work as an 11-year-old after losing a hat at her local ski resort and learning that the heap of lost-and-found items there would soon be discarded. “I’ve learned that every person is important and powerful in their own way,” says Corinne. “And I’ve learned that simple ideas can make a huge difference.”
Age 17, New JerseyAmanda created the Chimp Aid Café to raise money to help Jane Goodall protect chimpanzees. In the past nine years, she has donated nearly $25,000 to the Jane Goodall Institute’s (JGI) animal protection, conservation, and humanitarian programs around the world. She was inspired as a third grader after reading about Jane Goodall’s work and soon set up her first Lemonade for Chimp Aid stand. When that initial effort netted only two customers (her parents) and $5.50, she expanded her offerings and began selling at local swimming events. She now sells homemade pastas, chili, salads, and coffee drinks from her renamed Chimp Aid Café, acting as food buyer, kitchen prep, and clean-up crew, with her dad as chef. “I’ve learned that my passion is to help others and that is what I want to do with my life,” says Amanda. “I’ve also learned that for every problem, there’s a solution, and I want to be part of the solutions.”
Age 14, MinnesotaMaria has distributed nearly 1.7 million gently-used books to low-income children through her non-profit organization, Read Indeed. She has collected books valued at more than $4 million, donating them to over 300 schools and organizations in 43 states and 16 countries. An avid reader, Maria began collecting books for kids in need as a second-grader and set a goal of one million books by the time she turned 18. When she met that goal before the age of 13, she revised it to three million. Maria enlists the help of volunteers – most of them children – who hold book drives and then work with her to identify recipients of the books. “I love helping other people and making the world a little better,” says Maria. “And I’m not just doing this by myself. It’s amazing to see how many other people can be inspired to help, too.”
Age 17, CaliforniaAnant founded the Manipal Foundation to improve the education and health of orphaned and in-need children around the world. He named his foundation for the city in India where his ancestors lived and where he was inspired to begin his work while volunteering at an orphanage. Struck by the lack of resources for the children there, he organized a group of his peers back in the U.S. to help. His team has created scholarships at a school in India, organized relief meals for victims of Typhoon Haiyan, and funded 7,500 vaccines for Rotary’s End Polio Project. They will soon begin work on a project in partnership with the Association of People with Disabilities to aid disabled children in Bangalore, India. “I’m dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those around me,” says Anant. “I saw the result of my efforts at an orphanage in India and wanted to do that on a larger scale.”
Age 15, TorontoRachel founded Kids Right to Know to educate young people about genetically modified food and the need for proper testing and labeling. As an 11-year-old researching the Canadian food system for a school project, she was shocked to find that 70% of the food we eat contains GMOs and that while over 60 countries in the world require mandatory GMO labeling, Canada and the U.S. do not. She created her GMO Labeling Campaign and travels around the world to meet with environmental leaders and to speak at events and rallies. Her television debate over GMO labeling with Canadian commentator Kevin O’Leary on CBC has received over five million views on YouTube and she recently landed a meeting with Canada’s Health Minister (the country’s top health official) about mandatory GMO labeling. “These experiences have taught me that we must all find our true purpose in this world and must act on our passions,” says Rachel.
Age 13, FloridaOlivia founded Save the Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.) in order to help other people and the environment. With her cornerstone project, Leave a GOOD Footprint, she collects gently-used shoes – 15,000 pairs so far – and sends them around the world to those in need. Her project also keeps shoes out of landfills and brings her $.50 for each pound of shoes collected, which she has donated to a local youth theater program and wounded warriors group, among others. Olivia was inspired to help others following a 2009 flood that destroyed her home. Grateful for the outpouring of support her family received, she wanted to pay that back and landed on the idea of Leave a GOOD Footprint. “You don’t have to have something to start something,” says Olivia. “What you need is inside of you. It’s your heart and your thoughts and your imagination, and your willingness to work to achieve a goal.”
On the Web
Age 16, TennesseeJack founded Jack’s Chattanoggins to support families whose children are battling pediatric cancer. In the past seven years, his non-profit has raised over $160,000 by organizing an annual event where people donate money to have their heads shaved. After staging two events and raising $5,000, Jack was approached by the owner of a local outdoor market, who offered his venue for the event. At the same time, an area hospital offered to partner with Jack in growing his project, with proceeds to its Children’s Hospital Foundation to fund treatment for local children diagnosed with cancer. So far, Jack has inspired over 400 people to shave their heads – everyone from a 7-year-old girl to an 80-year-old man. “I’ve learned that if I put my mind and heart to something, there’s nothing I can’t do,” says Jack.
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America. Each year, the Barron Prize honors 25 outstanding young leaders ages 8 to 18 who have made a significant positive difference to people and the environment.
Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes | P.O. Box 1470 | Boulder, CO 80306