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HRC Youth Commissioner receives national recognition

Photo of Alisha ZhouFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Oregon’s Alisha Zhao, 16, Selected to Serve as a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador

Zhao to receive funding, training to lead large-scale service initiative to create positive change in the lives of Oregon’s children

Washington, D.C. (June 30, 2015) –YSA (Youth Service America) and Festival of Children Foundation announce that Alisha Zhao of Oregon will serve as a National Child Awareness Month Youth Ambassador. As one of 51 Youth Ambassadors selected from a nationwide pool, Alisha will receive funding and training to lead an initiative to counteract the negative effects poverty has on childhood development through providing youth experiencing homelessness with affordable and convenient programs in the areas of education, creativity, physical activity, and health.

Alisha’s work begins in September—National Child Awareness Month— when she travels to Washington, D.C., for leadership training and meetings with members of the state’s congressional delegation. She then returns home to launch her nonprofit, Kids First Project, which addresses Oregon’s issue of being ranked 46th in the nation for early childhood education as well as its lack of recreational programs for disadvantaged youth. Its mission is to promote HOPE - Health, Opportunity, Play, and Education - by raising awareness on the lack of funding going towards disadvantaged children, providing the resources necessary for children experiencing homelessness to reach their full potential, freeing up time for parents to find housing, and ultimately breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty.

Alisha was selected through a competitive application process, and chosen based on the quality of her project proposal and its potential to create substantive, large-scale change on behalf of young people in Oregon.

Now in its eighth year, National Child Awareness Month is a program spearheaded by Festival of Children Foundation to raise awareness about issues affecting children and encourage the nation's youth to take action.

The 51 Youth Ambassadors will work in their communities, and form a collective network to raise awareness around issues important to young people. Youth Ambassadors receive a national-level platform for their cause; a $1,000 grant to develop a service project his or her home state; ongoing training and project guidance; and networking opportunities with other Youth Ambassadors across the country.

“These teens and young adults are the future of philanthropy. They understand the importance of making a difference and giving back. Festival of Children Foundation’s collaboration with YSA allows us to give these kids the tools to create a powerful youth network that will create lasting change across the country,” said Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, founder and executive director of Festival of Children Foundation.

Ms. Alisha Zhao is a junior at Lincoln High School in Portland, Oregon. With a passion for human rights and service, Alisha is the first youth to ever serve on her city’s Human Rights Commission. She is also the founder of Lincoln’s Hope For Homeless Club and the nonprofit, Kids First Project. Alisha has been recognized through the Dr. Arnold Rustin Award, Civic Award, KATU News, and ANNpower Fellowship. While being involved in government and community service, she maintains a 4.0 GPA and participates in the International Baccalaureate program. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, playing lacrosse, and reading. Alisha aspires to someday work for the United Nations with a double major in political science and international relations.

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