2015 Red Wagon Award Winners
May 29, 2015
Minnesota Alliance With Youth is proud to announce the winners of the 12th annual Red Wagon Awards. The awards honor young Minnesotans in grades 6-12 who have shown resilience and overcome obstacles to achieve academic gains, give back to their community and grow to become leaders among their peers. Youth across the state are nominated by caring adults, mentors, teachers, coaches and principals.
This year, one group and three individual winners have been selected by a committee of AmeriCorps Promise Fellows, community stakeholders and Alliance board and staff members. Dozens of exceptional nominations were received from all corners of the state. The three individual youth and the group winner will each receive, in addition to the award, a $500 scholarship to fund their academic and civic engagement pursuits.
The 2015 winners will be honored along with this year’s STAR Partner award winner, Twin Cities Public Television, at the Red Wagon Awards Celebration and Fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. on June 11 at Macalester College. The public is invited to attend and honor these young people. Registration for the event is required and is available online at mnyouth.net/involve/redwagonevent.
2015 Red Wagon Award Winners
Neda Khi (nominated for service and leadership), Senior at Century High School in Rochester
Neda’s passion to help families experiencing homelessness in her community has had a tremendous impact. An active member of the Rochester-Olmsted Youth Commission, Neda has not let challenging personal circumstances get in her way, artfully balancing school, work, volunteer activities, and care of her niece and nephew. Last spring, when a proposal came before the Rochester Board of Education regarding the sale of a school property for use as permanent supportive housing for homeless youth and families, Neda collected 200 signatures of high school students urging the sale. Neda is also involved in student government, volunteers at the local food bank, and provides volunteer childcare for homeless families at Family Promise Rochester.
Ja’meyah Taylor (nominated for academics and leadership), Senior at Edison High School in Minneapolis
Ja’meyah Taylor does not let any obstacle, big or small, hold her back. Even though she spent part of her senior year living at a shelter, she has not let that stop her from attending school every day, and even uses her life story and situation to inspire her fellow classmates at Edison High School. When other students are struggling with personal challenges, Ja’meyah goes out of her way to motivate and encourage them, staying after school or coming in early to help her classmates succeed, a goal she is very familiar with. At the beginning of the 2014-15 school year, Ja’meyah was not academically on track, and was told it would be impossible for her to graduate from high school. Unfazed, Ja’meyah made up 20.5 credits during her first semester through online credit recovery, working day and night to be able to not just graduate but graduate on time. Ja’meyah’s journey has inspired other students to continue to push on even when it seems all odds are against them.
Taylor Korte (nominated for service and leadership), Junior at Minnesota Valley Area Learning Center in Montevideo
Taylor is seen by her peers and teachers as a natural leader, working to make her school a better place. She is a voice for promoting alternative education, serving as an officer on the Minnesota Association of Alternative Programs STARS chapter, where she advocates for alternative education programs at conferences and legislative days. A student who might have been lost in a traditional school setting, Taylor thrives at Minnesota Valley Area Learning Center. Always working to improve her community, Taylor helped organize events last year to raise a total of $600 for a new playground at the elementary school. Taylor also works with elementary students, reading and playing games, and is a CNA in nursing homes and care facilities, helping people with daily tasks. Taylor is always willing to do whatever is asked of her without any hesitation and has shown her outstanding dedication to the Montevideo community.
This year’s group award winner is the Duluth Teen Council of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. The Council is a group of young experts in promoting reproductive health among their peers. In 2014, Teen Council members reached 2,177 of their peers with accurate sexual health education through presentations, service learning projects and community outreach. In the past two years the Duluth Teen Council has focused their community service projects on raising awareness about teen dating violence, and organized a large-scale teen-centered concert, health fair and art auction where they raised over $1,000 for a local nonprofit, and facilitated a training about teen dating violence at a statewide leadership summit. Teen Council members model exemplary leadership by addressing issues that impact youth through education, advocacy and service.
“The Red Wagon Awards are a unique opportunity for the Alliance and our partners to celebrate the tremendous impact that young people make through civic engagement and volunteer service throughout Minnesota,” says Sarah Dixon, president and CEO of Minnesota Alliance With Youth. “We cannot wait to see what these youth will accomplish next!”
The 2015 Red Wagon Awards are generously sponsored by AT&T.