Seven student-led charity projects awarded funding during Philanthropy Tank ‘finals.’
Eleventh-grader Ben Gao created Venture to teach financial literacy to younger students and spread entrepreneur skills to youth in Palm Beach County. Skills that could lead to careers in business.
"These are essential lessons, and unfortunately they are often overlooked in our curriculum," said Gao, who attends Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. "We hope to promote these critical skills and empower students with the wealth of available knowledge."
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Gao’s Venture was one of seven student-led charity programs that earned in total more than $89,000 in funding thanks to their pitches made to a group of philanthropist-investors.
For the last four years, Philanthropy Tank finalists have made their presentations onstage in front of hundreds of audience members. This year’s "finals, "scheduled for the Kravis Center, were canceled because of the coronavirus.
The select group of teens this spring finally were able to present their charity ideas — virtually. Philanthropy Tank debuted the recorded Live Finals Event on its Facebook page and website, philanthropytank.org. A mentor was assigned to each charity, and each program was eligible to be awarded up to $15,000 in funding.
Gao was awarded $10,500 for Venture. He was disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to pitch his idea to a live audience, but the Zoom pitch was still an "awesome opportunity."
"It’s definitely a very rewarding feeling," Gao said. "The other finalists and I put in tremendous amounts of work to prepare for our final pitch, and we worked hand-in-hand with Philanthropy Tank to finalize our ideas and prepare our presentation. Being recognized also lights the fire under us as we are now super eager to get to work and bring our projects to life."
Other project winners include Girls Help Girls, by Suncoast junior Rithika Kacham, which aims to help women in need receive proper hygiene products, such as menstrual cups and pads, by raising awareness about the lack of access women have to proper hygiene.
Hello Hygienics by Spanish River juniors Nishah Jaferi and Jonathan Beres provides handy, on-the-go, wellness kits to prioritize health for the less fortunate.
Angel Rojas, Pierce Dono and Oliver Charles-Pierre, eighth-graders at St. Vincent Ferrer School, created Idea Lab as a an outlet where they can gather tools and materials to create, invent, tinker and fabricate as a community through hands-on design and construction.
MoneyBuddies, created by American Heritage juniors Gabriel Sun and Brendan Detamore, is a program that intends to inspire the youth of Palm Beach County by providing them with fun, free lessons in basic principles of financial literacy and proper money management.
Stand Up, Be Counted, founded by Glades Central juniors Anajiah Graham and I’Yunni Phillips, hopes to increase the numbers of individuals who rst complete and return the Census 2020 documents, thereby gaining seats in the House of Representatives when new electoral district boundaries are drawn.
South Florida Tech for Seniors, conceived by Suncoast sophomore Sam Friedman, will work to help local senior citizens with their technology needs while teaching them basic skills to be self-sufficient.
Philanthropy Tank allowed Friedman to expand his work and help more people than ever before.
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"I've always been good with technology, and as I helped my own family, particularly my grandparents, it made me realize how many people like them don't have someone like me, and could really use some help with technology," Friedman said. "My organization helps those people with their technical needs, so they can use their devices to access information and communicate with family and friends."
His future goals are to expand throughout the county, state and possibly beyond to help as many seniors as possible, and recruit teenagers from all over to help.
As for Hello Hygienics, Jaferi and Beres plan to distribute more than 3,500 kits to county residents under the poverty line, and in the process raise awareness of the hygiene issues present in our community.
"We believe that now, in the midst of this pandemic, Hello Hygienics can have a profound effect," Jaferi said. "Our care kits will be equipped with hygiene essentials including bar soap and masks to help families struggling in Palm Beach County."