NEWARK, N.J., Feb. 9, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Kruthik Ravikanti, 17, of Alpharetta and Ava Mincey, 12, of Statesboro today were named Georgia's top youth volunteers of 2021 by The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, America's largest youth recognition program based exclusively on volunteer service.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards logo

As State Honorees, Kruthik and Ava will each receive a $2,500 scholarship, a silver medallion and an invitation to the program's virtual national recognition celebration in April, where 10 of the 102 State Honorees will be named America's top youth volunteers of the year. Those 10 National Honorees will earn an additional $5,000 scholarship, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their nominating organization and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit charitable organization of their choice.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, conducted annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), honors students in grades 5-12 for making meaningful contributions to their communities through volunteer service.

"We created the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards 26 years ago to highlight and support the work of young people taking on the challenges of a changing world – a mission that rings truer than ever given the events of last year," said Charles Lowrey, Prudential's chairman and CEO. "We are proud to celebrate the vision and determination of Spirit of Community's Class of 2021, and all the ways they're making their communities safer, healthier and more equitable places to live."

These are Georgia's top youth volunteers of 2021:

High School State Honoree: Kruthik Ravikanti
Nominated by Alpharetta High School

Kruthik, a senior at Alpharetta High School, co-founded a nonprofit organization to help other young people start, fund and execute their own service projects. Kruthik said he and a fellow high school student realized that many young people aren't particularly interested in typical types of volunteering, but have a desire to launch their own service projects. However, they often lack the necessary resources, such as the time and money it takes to obtain official nonprofit status. To address this problem, the two friends created "Georgia Youth Leaders" (GYL), a 501(c)3 organization that provides information and guidance to young social entrepreneurs, allows them to benefit from nonprofit status, helps them procure funding, and supports them in other ways.

Once GYL was formed, the founders held seminars to attract high schoolers who had service projects that could operate under the GYL umbrella. Then GYL began applying for grants to help fund those projects, publicizing them through social media, mentoring their leaders, and developing a website. Eight projects are now part of the GYL family, pursuing missions including relief to victims of human trafficking, environmental cleanups, and donating books to children in need. "Georgia Youth Leaders is a bridge connecting change-makers with teens trying to find their passions through volunteering," said Kruthik.

Middle Level State Honoree: Ava Mincey
Nominated by William James Middle School

Ava, a sixth-grader at William James Middle School, has raised thousands of dollars for Alzheimer's disease research in honor of her late great-grandmother, by selling lemonade and raising money online. Ava has volunteered at the community support center established by her grandmother since 2015, where she has come to enjoy helping clients and their caregivers. Her work there taught her a lot about Alzheimer's disease, and convinced her that she needed to help find a cure. "The more research and education about the disease that can be done, the better the odds are for finding a cure," she said.

With her father's help, Ava perfected a recipe for "Ava's Lemonade" and set up a stand in her front yard to sell it. As friends and family members spread the word about Ava's endeavor, sales vastly exceeded her initial expectations, and were exceeded yet again after word spread on social media. Before long, Ava was selling her lemonade in multiple locations, making deliveries all over town and even in surrounding counties, and expanding her product line to include juices made from fresh pineapples, peaches, strawberries and raspberries. So far, her efforts have yielded more than $2,000 for Alzheimer's research. Ava also serves as an advocate for a personal device that alerts caregivers to the location of their Alzheimer's patients.

State Honorees in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards Class of 2021 – the top middle level and high school volunteer from all 50 states and the District of Columbia – were selected for service initiatives completed, at least in part, between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020. Selection was based on criteria including impact, effort, initiative and the personal growth demonstrated over the course of the project. Several Distinguished Finalists and runners-up were also selected in each state, and all qualifying applicants received President's Volunteer Service Awards. 

"It speaks volumes about the character of today's secondary school students that the Spirit of Community program heard from more than 21,000 applicants this fall – most of them stories of young volunteers overcoming the hardships of a global pandemic to support those in need," said Ronn Nozoe, Chief Executive Officer, NASSP. "While we're especially proud to celebrate this year's 102 State Honorees, NASSP applauds every student who's found a way to volunteer this past year. You inspire your peers and adults alike to remember that, even in times of crisis, we all have something to give."

To read the names and stories of all of this year's State Honorees, visit http://spirit.prudential.com.

About Prudential Financial

Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial wellness leader and premier active global investment manager, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Prudential's diverse and talented employees help to make lives better by creating financial opportunity for more people. Prudential's iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit news.prudential.com. 

About NASSP

The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) is the leading organization of and voice for principals and other school leaders across the United States. NASSP seeks to transform education through school leadership, recognizing that the fulfillment of each student's potential relies on great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student. Reflecting its long-standing commitment to student leadership development, NASSP administers the National Honor Society, National Junior Honor Society, National Elementary Honor Society, and National Student Council. Learn more at http://nassp.org.

 

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