While planning her service project for her upcoming bat mitzvah, Rye Country Day School seventh grader Helena Zimmerman had an epiphany: She realized that teens don’t have anywhere near the same resources to help their communities that adults do. That’s why she created TeensGive.org, a nonprofit that helps teens give back through teaching and tutoring. Its subsidiary program, Counting Cupcakes, which Zimmerman launched when she was 16, created a real-life bakery to teach kids entrepreneurship and life skills.
With the help of a $120,000 grant from Google, TeensGive.org has 4,000 high school members and 200 volunteer tutors in the US who teach via the virtual volunteer platform. Zimmerman also partners with Learn To Be, a nonprofit that helps get vital educational resources for those kids who cannot get help at their schools.
Helena, who is now 17, was recently acknowledged for her leadership and commitment with a 2018 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award and received a $36,000 prize, in addition to a grant from her school made possible through the E. E. Ford Foundation. She has also received the Prudential Spirit of Community Award in recognition of her outstanding community service.
“I hope TeensGive teens are inspired to become entrepreneurs, because one person can change the world,” says Zimmerman.