A few years ago, Purchase teen, Helena Zimmerman was busy preparing for her bat mitzvah, when she stopped to take a look at her peers and their projects. Concerned that teenagers lacked meaningful and impactful ways to give back to their communities, Zimmerman co-founded TeensGive.org, a non-profit created for teens by teens that provides in-person and virtual volunteer opportunities for youth in under-served communities. Through TeensGive, she is enacting real change ina her community. She is addressing the crucial need for access to educational resources for youth who may not have the necessary means to receive help at their current academic institution. She has recently partnered with Learn To Be, a nonprofit that matchs tutors and recipients.
Since the implementation of TeensGive in 2014 and with the help from a $120,000 grant from Google, to date there are 4,000 high school members across the United States and 200 volunteer tutors that provide their services through the virtual volunteer platform.
Going back to the roots of her original service project, she coordinated a bake sale for a public school in Harlem. Zimmerman is currently putting her efforts towards expanding the Counting Cupcakes program, a project-based workshop that teaches entrepreneurial and life skills to middle schoolers. It is a workshop that is helping teen volunteers to lead a team in creating a real-life bakery, while learning business and life skills they can teach to others..Counting Cupcakes is the latest initiative launched by TeensGive, which is seeking to expand its outreach to a new audience and is the title of a book she is writing about entrepreneurship. Zimmerman, 17 has also received grants from The E.E. Ford Foundation and was honored with The Prudential Spirit of Community Award.
In June, for her inspiring work, the Rye Country Day School student was announced as a recipient of the 2018 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, a $36,000 award that recognizes 15 Jewish teens for their leadership and commitment to social good to make the world a better place. Now in its twelfth year, the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards have given more than $4 million to 114 teens Jewish teens who are tackling global issues and creating lasting change “to repair the world,” or Tikkun Olam. The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards was the creation of Philanthropist Helen Diller, namesake of The Helen Diller Family Foundation. Zimmerman plans to use the $36,000 to expand the virtual volunteer portion of TeensGive.org to more state, schools and community centers.