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Local Teens Win Prestigious Award

Students create programs that help in "Tikkun Olam," the Hebrew phrase for "repairing the world," and are awarded $36,000 a piece to further their service efforts.

Two area teens were awarded the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award and $36,000 each for their community service efforts in "repairing the world," a translation of the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam.

Eighteen-year-old Adam Weinstein brought math and science to struggling Los Angeles classrooms. Brentwood resident Celine Yousefzadeh, 19, started a charity fashion show to help Israel.

Education in science, technology, engineering and math is critical for future economic growth of the United States, Weinstein told Patch.   

"And with increasing budget cuts to education, I feel that underprivileged students have even fewer opportunities to acquire the skills they will need to compete in a global economy," said Weinstein. 

It was his understanding of and respect for math and science that prompted Weinstein to start Archimedes Learning, an after-school enrichment program for underprivileged fifth-graders in three L.A. schools, Coeur d'Alene Avenue Elementary School in Venice being one.

Lesson plans have included "creating a submarine out of a water bottle to learn about buoyancy; using paper cups tied together with string to explore how sound travels; and counting M&Ms to understand ratios," according to the award press release. 

This fall, Weinstein, a graduate of Brentwood School, will attend Princeton University, where he hopes to continue pursuing math and science—and to start another branch of Archimedes Learning in New Jersey.

For Yousefzadeh, it was a string of rocket attacks and bombings in Israel a few years ago that made her want to start Fashion with Compassion, an annual student-run fashion show at Milken Community High School that has raised $21,000 for charity in its three-year existence, Yousefzadeh said.  

"It was clear to me and the community at Milken and the community at large that we needed to take immediate action to help Israel," Yousefzadeh said. "Before getting the idea, I went to a few fashion shows at a few other schools and I wanted to take this exciting and fun, cool event and pair it with something that was really meaningful to me and my community."

Yousefzadeh graduated from Milken last year and is currently studying business at Bentley University in Boston.

Each of this year's five Tikkun Olam awardees will receive $36,000 from the Helen Diller Family Foundation, which has given over one million dollars to 30 Californian teens since the award's inception six years ago, to help fund their education and further their projects.  

Anon July 26, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Coeur D'Alene is in no way an underprivileged school. It only has 18% of its kids getting free and reduced lunch and only 8% English learners.

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