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Congratulations to Our 2020 Winners!

by | Sep 15, 2020

We’re thrilled to announce our 2020 Barron Prize young heroes!

This year’s winners and honorees are an exceptional group working passionately to better their communities and protect the planet. They’re helping the hungry and the homeless, inventing life-saving technologies, protecting endangered species, and addressing climate change, among myriad other initiatives. Like all our young heroes, they’re demonstrating courage, compassion, and perseverance as they work to make a positive difference in the world.

These inspiring young people comprise the 20th anniversary class of Barron Prize young heroes. Over the past two decades, we’ve honored nearly 500 public-spirited young leaders from across the U.S. and Canada who have raised more than $24 million for their causes. They’ve inspired countless people by their example and remind us that every person has the power to make the world a better place.

Congratulations to our newest class of young heroes!


Aniyah Ayres, age 14, of Pennsylvania, who created Aniyah’s Mission to help Philadelphians in need and to show young people that their voices and actions matter.

Annie Zhu, age 17, of Texas, who co-founded Fresh Hub to reduce food waste and provide nutritious food to people living in Houston’s food deserts. She also created Readiness Across Mathematics to support underserved youth in learning math.

Bill Tong, age 18, of Maryland, who founded the Bioma Project, an environmental education nonprofit that brings native fish aquariums into classrooms.

Chander Payne, age 17, of Maryland, founder of Urban Beet, which creates urban farms in order to provide fresh food to underserved people and help cool city neighborhoods.

Aniyah with supplies to distribute to those in need.

Dana Perella, age 9, of Colorado, who started Cookies4Cures. She bakes and sells cookies and has raised more than $100,000 to fund research into rare pediatric diseases.

Isabella Paoletti-Tejeda, age 18, of California, who created Read a Story, Change a Life, a literacy intervention program that has helped more than 2,500 at-risk youth learn to read and write.

Isha Clarke, age 17, of California, co-founder of Youth vs. Apocalypse, a diverse group of young climate justice activists.

Kavi Dolasia, age 18, of California, co-founder of Reaching Out with Robotics, a student-run program that works to increase technology literacy for underserved youth.

Kavi Gandhi, age 17, of Pennsylvania, who leads the Yash Gandhi Foundation and has raised more than $460,000 to help find a cure for I-Cell, a rare, genetic childhood disease.

Lillian Petersen, age 17, of New Mexico, who created an early warning system using satellite imagery to predict crop yields in every African country several months before the harvest.

Topher with his Lonesome Larry socks.

Madhvi Chittoor, age 9, of Colorado, who founded Madhvi4EcoEthics to reduce plastic and Styrofoam pollution and inspire others to do the same.

Matine Khalighi, age 18, of Colorado, co-founder of Helping the Homeless Colorado, recently rebranded as EEqual, a national nonprofit that supports the education of students experiencing homelessness.

Sammie Vance, age 11, of Indiana, founder of Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project, which recycles plastic caps into designated benches where schoolchildren can sit when looking for a friend.

Topher Jones, age 12, of Idaho, who created the Lonesome Larry Project and has raised nearly $11,000 to protect sockeye salmon and other threatened fish by selling custom-designed socks.

Viraj Mehta, age 17, of Arizona, who develops technologies for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancers.


Elliot Shin, age 17, of Oregon, who founded Olivenbaum, a nonprofit that educates and empowers refugees and strives to bring peace through music.

Ethan Wilk, age 17, of Arizona, who created the Xenia Project, a nonprofit working to protect endangered marine species with novel blockchain technology.

Hollis Belger, age 15, of California, who founded Juggling for Jude in 2014 and has raised more than $450,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Jaden Winn, age 17, of Oregon, who founded Youth Igniting Change, an alliance of youth activists working to promote climate justice, advocate for homeless youth, and advance the conversation around equity and inclusivity.

Justin Sather, age 9, of California, who founded For the Love of Frogs. He is working to protect frog habitat, reduce plastic pollution, and has raised more than $20,000 for his cause.

Kate Gilman Williams, age 10, of Texas, who co-authored a children’s book titled Let’s Go on Safari! and in the past year, has donated over $12,000 in sales to nonprofits that protect wildlife and wild spaces.

Kevin Malaekeh, age 17, of California, who co-founded the Youth Climate Action Coalition, a nonprofit that has worked with more than 3,000 schools and thousands of students to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Megan Chen, age 17, of Delaware, who founded The Urban Garden Initiative, a nonprofit that empowers students at nearly 50 schools to grow fresh produce and teaches them environmental concepts.

Sofie Roux, age 15, of British Columbia, who has raised nearly $50,000 from sales of her artwork and invested it in sustainable projects that support girls’ education in Africa.

Zev Shapiro, age 18, of Massachusetts, who founded a nonprofit that recently released the TurnUp mobile app to serve as a hub and social network for efficiently organizing young activists.