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Karim Abouelnaga headshotKarim A., 21, New York

Karim knows firsthand how hard it is to succeed in under-resourced inner-city public schools. He was lucky enough to benefit from nonprofits that provided him with great mentors, and he decided that he wanted to give the benefits he received to other kids in his situation. With this in mind, he organized a group of friends and founded Practice Makes Perfect, a nonprofit organization that provides “poor and struggling youth with mentorship and academic resources that are beyond the reach of their inner-city public schools.” Struggling elementary and middle school students are paired with high-achieving middle and high school students for an intensive academic program during the summer, all whilst being supervised by college interns. The unique inter-generational approach has made strides in improving these students’ performance in math and reading, and it’s eliminated their summer learning loss. In the past three years, Practice Makes Perfect has aided over 300 students in the New York City area. Their goal is to help over 900 students in the New York City and Washington DC areas this summer. Karim says, “Having gone through some of the most academically struggling public schools and being blessed with the opportunity to attend an elite college makes it clear to me that growing Practice Makes Perfect is nothing short of my purpose.”

Having gone through some of the most academically struggling public schools and being blessed with the opportunity to attend an elite college makes it clear to me that growing Practice Makes Perfect is nothing short of my purpose.

 

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2015 peace first prize winners

Brennan

brennan projectBrennan Lewis, 18, Apex, NC

Growing up a member of the LGBTQ community in North Carolina, Brennan saw firsthand the difficulties and feelings of isolation that LGBTQ youth can endure in a heteronormative environment. And while Brennan was very fortunate to have a loving support system in their family and friends, they saw others who weren’t as lucky. So with a strong sense of compassion, Brennan and a friend took action and courageously created QueerNC.

Grace

grace projectGrace Callwood, 10, Abingdon, MD

Grace is a cancer survivor who learned, through giving away clothing that didn’t fit her post-treatment, that anyone and everyone can help brighten the day of their neighbor. The girls who received Grace’s donation had just moved into a homeless housing complex and were thrilled to be getting new clothes for school. After hearing what a difference her donation made in their day, Grace wanted to help other children who were going through tough times.

Jasmine

jasmine projectJasmine Babers, 19, Rock Island, IL

After watching her best friend and sister endure bullying and witnessing the devastating effects that it can have on them, Jasmine decided it was time someone created an outlet to promote compassion and tolerance among young women.

Xiuhtezcatl

xiuhtezcatl project 2Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, 15, Boulder, CO

Growing up, Xiuhtezcatl’s father emphasized his obligation to taking care of the land – a privilege and responsibility that, in a world ravaged by climate change, he does not take lightly. He has been on the front lines of the fight for the environment since he was four, attending and leading rallies and summits, always willing to confront adult leaders for the current climate crisis we see today.

Yasmine

yasminearringtonactionphototwoYasmine Arrington, 22, Washington D.C.

2.7 million young people in the US have an incarcerated parent, and statistics show that they are more likely to drop out of high school and go to jail themselves because of it. Yasmine is one of those 2.7 million; she has experienced firsthand the financial and emotional burdens, and the marginalization that a family goes through as a result. And through building a meaningful relationship with her incarcerated parent, by forgiving him, she was motivated to do something to support her peers and help them find their own peace of mind and end this cycle of incarceration.