The Meridian High School 'Hand to Hunger' team

The International Baccalaureate® announced that 101 projects representing over 300 young individuals from 48 countries have received the Global Youth Action Fund award, totaling over 230,000 USD in student grant funding. The award is designed to recognize and empower students taking the lead to address pressing global challenges at IB World Schools and beyond. 

Over 500 changemakers showcased their commitment to creating a better world by submitting projects that tackle issues ranging from sustainability and equity to social justice. Each project supports one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and goes through a comprehensive evaluation process. Each awardee will receive up to a $3,000 grant to fund their project and mentorship and online training in social entrepreneurship to transform and further develop their idea to impact their community.

We are proud to share that Meridian High School and Edison High School students were notified earlier this week that their applications to the IB's Global Youth Action Fund were successful! Both groups of students will receive grant funds to support their projects further. Hand to Hunger (Meridian) and Period101 (Edison). 

The Meridian' Hand to Hunger' team has reflected on their own unique experiences with hunger both in our community and our world, and those experiences introduced a kind of empathy that drives all the work we've done - and will continue to do:

  • Grace Calabrese (above left) worked with Holy Trinity in Georgetown, donating meals every Sunday for the unhoused in the Georgetown and DC area. She felt uneasy packing meals for those in need while being able to enjoy three a day for herself, so every meal packed was a chance to give back to her community. 
  • Elbetel Kiros (above, center) was inspired by the impact of the Falls Church community in raising money and awareness for the Tigray Genocide occurring in her home country of Ethiopia. As a sophomore, for her MYP Personal Project, she conducted bake sales and educated the community on ways they could help and speak up, raising over $1,500 for displaced children and victims of the war at Elshaddai Secondary School in Tigray, Ethiopia. 
  • Adam Belouad's (above, right) experience with Ramadan gave him an empathy for those struggling with hunger across the globe. Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm of classmates when getting involved with the project introduced the idea of scaling our work to get everyone's hands engaged in combating the growing issue of food insecurity around the world. 

The work of these students is directly aligned with an increased focus on sustainability education in Falls Church City Public Schools. Dr. Rory Dippold, IB Middle Years Programme Coordinator, noted this accomplishment: "We're thrilled to announce that our students have received the prestigious IB Global Youth Action Fund award for their projects' Hand to Hunger.' This achievement reflects our school's commitment to the International Baccalaureate (IB) program and sustainability education." 

FCCPS sustainability coordinator Nicole Jones added: "This project demonstrates the power of empathy and compassion and highlights our students' dedication to addressing global challenges, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We applaud these young changemakers and their advocacy embodying our mission to nurture responsible global citizens who drive positive change within our community and beyond." 

Fairfax County Public Schools student Maya Manchester established Period101 at Edison High School in 2022. The organization addresses "period poverty" - the lack of access some women and girls have to menstrual hygiene products. Volunteers create personalized "period product kits" - small bags containing menstrual products, information on where individuals can access menstrual products, and motivational notes. Members of Period101 at Edison High School made 600 period product kits during the 2022-23 school year. The group also hosted educational events and organized a letter-writing campaign advocating for legislation to address period poverty. 

With the help of the IB Global Youth Action Fund award, Period101 plans to establish chapters throughout North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland during the 2023-24 school year.