Foundation accepts nominations for teen leaders

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If you know a Jewish teenager who has made a positive impact in his or her community, then you might want to nominate him or her for a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award.

The Helen Diller Family Foundation is accepting nominations for the 2014 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, which recognizes and celebrates teen leaders who have created projects that can benefit both the Jewish and general community.


In 2013, the awards program, which is based on the Jewish phrase tikkun olam or “repairing the world,” launched nationally to recognize up to 10 teens every year with an individual $36,000 award to be used to expand their projects or further their education.

Of the 10 selected, five are from California and five are from other communities across the country.

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“We’re looking for teens who push the envelope and make their projects meaningful through creativity,” Adam Weisberg said.

Weisberg is the director of Diller Teen Initiatives, which is the “umbrella” for the awards program, and Diller Teen Fellows, an international program for Jewish teens that focuses on building leadership and Jewish identity.


“The majority of recipients have reinvested that money in their project, in order to expand what they’re doing or to add new elements and initiatives to it,” he said.

Past recipient projects include Ellie Dubin’s Kesem Shel Shir, a theatre program that boosts self-esteem and language skills for underprivileged Israeli and American kids, and Nick Lowinger’s Gotta Have Sole, a project that donates new shoes to kids living in homeless shelters.

While self-nominations are allowed, Weisberg said a majority of prospective recipients are nominated by someone in the community who has noticed their project, such as a guidance counselor or rabbi. Family members may not send in a nomination.

The awards ceremony is traditionally held in San Francisco every August. Weisberg said this is a way to bring those chosen together, so they can recognize how their fellow recipients are impacting their communities.

Both the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards and Diller Teen Fellows are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a San Francisco-based philanthropy foundation that supports and raises money for various causes.

“The [Helen Diller Family] Foundation wanted to acknowledge teens doing good things and help make them be role models for other teens, so they might also be inspired to chase their dreams,” Weisberg said.

To fill out a nomination application and to find more information about Diller Teen Initiatives, go to dillerteenawards.org.

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