2021 Spirit of Youth Virtual Awards Ceremony

May 13, 2021

The Spirit of Youth Awards highlight dedicated young people and unsung heroes from around Alaska! The awards recognize the hard work and efforts of these future leaders. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s award ceremony was held virtually. With award recipients from Anchorage, Eagle River, Fairbanks, Homer, Ketchikan and Port Graham!

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2021 Spirit of Youth Award Recipients and Ceremony!

April 21, 2021

Spirit of Youth is excited to announce the 2021 Spirit of Youth Award Recipients!

We thank you for your support of Spirit of Youth, and the work the organization does to celebrate young Alaskans.

You can read more about this year’s recipients, who were selected by our Teen Advisory Council, at www.spiritofyouth.org. We hope that you can join the virtual award ceremony on Saturday, May 1, at 5:50 p.m. to celebrate the accomplishments of youth in communities across Alaska.

The Spirit of Youth Awards highlight dedicated young people and unsung heroes from around Alaska. The awards recognize the hard work and efforts of these future leaders. We utilize this opportunity to share their inspiring and heartwarming stories with the community. The event is free but registration is required.

Register for the virtual awards show here.

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Spirit of Youth Anchorage Coalition Strategic Plan 2021

March 25, 2021

Spirit of Youth’s Anchorage Coalition is funded by a Division of Behavioral Comprehensive Behavioral Health Prevention and Early Intervention grant. The Coalition recently updated their strategic plan to reflect the needs reflected in the results of the Youth Needs, Your Voice survey conducted during the Covid-19 Pandemic. You can view the new plan here.

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2020 Youth Needs, Your Voice Survey Analysis

February 23, 2021

This report presents an analysis of the Youth Needs, Your Voice Survey data. The Youth Needs, Your Voice Survey was developed for the purpose of better understanding the mental health needs and resources available to youth and young adults in the Anchorage Municipality, especially in the face of concurrent social issues in 2020, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, social distancing and online education, and the institutional racism highlighted by George Floyd’s arrest and death and the related protests across the country. The intent of the survey was for survey results to inform Spirit of Youth’s direction of youth programming with specified Alaska Department of Health and Social Services grant funds.

Read the 2020 Youth Needs, Your Voice Survey Analysis here.

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Announcing the Recipients of the Youth Connection and Engagement Grants!

December 16, 2020

Spirit of Youth provided several mini grants to a number of organizations. These grants were specifically intended to support youth and young adult-led projects in Anchorage. These efforts promote youth connectedness and engagement

Learn more about some of the youth messaging projects below.

 

Girl Scouts of Alaska – Independent Virtual Girl Scout Group

The Girl Scouts have been developing girls’ courage, confidence, and character for over 100 years. The Independent Virtual Girl Scout Group connects girls and allows them to benefit from the Girl Scout Leadership Experience in a time of social distancing. With guidance, girls mix and match activities and resources to suit their needs while giving back to their communities. The goal of the Independent Virtual Girl Scout group is to promote connectedness and leadership through youth-led facilitation and engage young girls in grades 6-12 in service projects and mentoring.

Learn about their efforts here.

 

Identity, Inc. – LGBTQ+ Youth Leadership Team

Identity’s LGBTQ+ Youth Leadership Team is a youth-led initiative that supports and promotes mattering, connection, engagement, respect, and inclusion for LGBTQ+ youth throughout Alaska. Youth involved in the work and vision of the leadership team will help shape the future of Identity’s youth program. Identity’s LGBTQ+ Youth Leadership program further connects LGBTQ+ youth in spaces of shared understanding, respect and inclusion.

Learn about their efforts here.

 

ASD East High School – Native Student Leadership Council (NLC) / EHS Student Outreach

The Native Student Leadership Council’s mission is to provide opportunities for Alaska Native and American Indian students to learn and utilize leadership skills, share their cultures, volunteer, and enhance pride in being Alaska Native and/or American Indian. As a response to sudden changes and impacts due to COVID-19, the NLC understands the importance of reaching out to students now. Through several efforts such as providing wellness boxes to over 400 youth Anchorage students, NLC will support and encourage adults, youth and their families to engage safely, and genuinely.

To learn more about the Native Student Leadership Council, click here.

 

See Stories – Youth Speak: Empowering LGBTQ+ Youth and Allies

See Stories builds inclusive communities through film and story. By providing youth access to resources such as film workshops, youth are empowered to share vital stories and messages. Through their current storytelling youth-led project titled “Youth Speak” LGBTQ+ youth and allies,” See Stories seeks to engage LGBTQ+ youth and allies in social justice conversations around mental and emotional experiences, create positive relationships, and expand student networks with LGBTQ+ adults and mentors.

Learn more about their efforts here.

 

Anchorage Youth Task Force – YTF Inside Out 

The Anchorage Youth Task Force, a project of Covenant House Alaska and Anchorage Coalition to End Homelessness, is a group of young leaders in Alaska who are committed in using their knowledge, skills, and insights to improve program practices, as well as inform, and expand youth services. The Anchorage Task Force provides resources to youth and their families across Alaska, offers direct training and technical assistance, and promotes youth/young adult endeavors.

Learn more about their efforts here. 

 

Choosing Our Roots – The Alaskan Queer Experience. 

Choosing Our Roots (COR) is a grassroots community organization working to ensure that all queer Alaskan youth and young adults have access to safe homes, supportive communities, and opportunities to thrive. COR promotes inclusion, fosters youth development, and empowers youth by providing spaces for youth to share their experiences & perspectives, and receive affirmation from others. Their current project, “The Alaskan Queer Experience” documents youth voices through a podcast and video series that seeks to highlight multi-generational, diverse experiences across Alaska. With this project, Choosing Our Roots hopes to reach LGBTQ+ youth struggling to find acceptance and resources in their communities and build shared knowledge from individuals across multiple generations and intersections of identities about what they need to feel seen, connected, and supported.

Check out more about Choosing Our Roots – The Alaskan Queer Experience here.

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2020 Spirit of Youth Radio Stories

November 24, 2020

Youth producers from the Alaska Teen Media Institute contacted awardees for the annual Spirit of Youth awards radio stories, featuring teens from across the state being honored for the good work they are doing in their communities.

The Spirit of Youth Awards highlight dedicated young people and unsung heroes from around Alaska. Now in its 22nd year, the awards recognize the hard work and efforts of these future leaders who utilize this opportunity to share their inspiring and heartwarming stories.

Thank you to the Alaska Teen Media Institute for creating these radio stories!

 

Garrett Graham—Anchorage, Humanitarian

Garrett has demonstrated courage, resilience and fortitude as he faces challenging personal difficulties. In June of 2018, he formed a team called “Garrett’s Got Guts,” which participated in the Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis fundraising event. He has taken action to educate himself, his classmates and his community members about genetic disorders with both humor and sincerity.

Story by Quinn White, Senior Producer, Alaska Teen Media Institute

 

Alicyn Bahnke and Zoe Okleasik of Nome, and Quannah Potts and Nanieezh Peter of Fairbanks, Discovery

Alicyn, Zoe, Quannah and Nanieezh were inspired to take action due to their personal experiences with climate change in their community. In their resolution to the Alaska Federation of Natives they wrote about the severe impacts climate change is having on Indigenous ways of life and the spiritual and cultural well-being of Alaska Native communities. Their resolution declares a climate emergency and creates a climate action leadership task force to advance Indigenous voices and advocate for strong climate policies that will ensure the survival of future generations.

Story by Riley Taylor, Senior Producer, Alaska Teen Media Institute

 

Anna DeVolld—Soldotna, Innovator

Anna developed a program called Promote Our Pollinators. This insightful, ambitious project strives to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and to provide easy-to-implement ways to support these essential creatures. Anna is educating hundreds of students, seniors, and business and community members about the importance of pollinators.

Story by Quinn White, Senior Producer, Alaska Teen Media Institute

 

Kevin Grimes—Fairbanks, Phoenix

Kevin is a strong member of Facing Foster Care in Alaska. He mentors youth from all ages ranging from 13-25. Kevin fights hard to help foster youth around Alaska. While he is only 18, he has worked with political members and others to spread his message.

Story by Daisy Carter, Senior Producer, Alaska Teen Media Institute

 

Sarah Mixsell—Anchorage, Visionary

Sarah founded Alaska Kids for Kids in 2011 when she was nine years old. Alaska Kids for Kids is a registered non-profit organization which annually selects a youth focused organization to serve through fund-raising and other donations. Under Sarah’s leadership, the organization has raised over $20,000 in funds and other donations that directly benefit youth in Alaska. As a youth herself, Sarah understands and empathizes with those challenges at a peer level.

Story by Ryan Danigole, Senior Producer, Alaska Teen Media Institute

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Youth Connection and Engagement Grants

October 9, 2020

Spirit of Youth is offering five grants of up to $4,500 to organizations in Anchorage to promote youth connection and engagement. Priority will be given to youth led initiatives within the 12-24 year old age range.

The Youth Connection and Engagement Grants are specifically intended to support youth led projects that meet the following goals:

  • Mattering – Youth’s perception they are respected, trusted, supported, valued by others, and able to make a difference in their community.
  • Connection and engagement – Community connection is correlated with decreases in youth risk behaviors that negatively impact learning and wellness.
  • Youth/adult connection – Youth–adult connectedness is foundational for adolescent health and wellbeing and an active ingredient of effective interventions serving vulnerable youth.
  • Promote respect and inclusion.
  • Promote the use of the Careline (More info about Careline at http://carelinealaska.com). 

 

The deadline is October 30. Apply here. Read the grant guide here.

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Youth Needs, Your Action: Virtual Service Experiences Summit

September 3, 2020

YOUTH NEEDS, YOUR ACTION: Virtual Service Experiences Summit is a two-day event filled with virtual engagement opportunities. Youth and adults can participate in all the activities or just one or two.

The event will kick off Friday 9/11/20 with evening entertainment focused on civic engagement which you will be able to enjoy from the comfort of your own home.

On Saturday 9/12/20 there will be a number of virtual sessions you can engage in including:

  • Presentations by Youth 4 Change, Anchorage Youth Vote, Alaska Teen Media Institute, and more.
  • Virtual storytelling circles.
  • A variety of fun youth-led virtual service projects that focus on acts of kindness!

The results of the Youth Needs, Your Voice! Anchorage youth needs assessment will be presented and a brand new youth leadership group will launch. This is a great opportunity to make connections with youth-driven programs, and to learn from young people in our community.

Let’s come together to get better connected in our community and learn how to make positive change! Open to all ages and areas of Alaska. Family friendly!

Feel free to attend as many or as few activities as you would like. Students! Ask your teachers about receiving extra credit!

Register here.

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$1,500 grants for COVID-19 youth messaging-Deadline May 15

April 30, 2020

Spirit of Youth is offering fifteen $1,500 grants for COVID-19 messaging, specifically intended to support youth led projects for middle and high school students. These efforts support the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services #akyouthcombatcovid campaign and are made available through funding from the Alaska Division of Behavioral Health. Youth can create their own media, including but not limited to pictures, memes and videos, and post it to their own social media channels.

Individual teens and youth groups are eligible

For Groups: Grants of up to $1,500 are available to youth groups to facilitate message development, sharing and promotion. This could include graphic creations, memes, social media content, audio and video content or other ways of communicating with teens. Youth producers must receive compensation for their contributions (we highly recommend gift cards to local business but this can be decided by the grantee). Other allowable costs are staff time, equipment, subscription services [such as Adobe Creative Suite (Premiere, Photoshop, Illustrator, Audition, etc.), Canva, Mailchimp, SoundCloud , Dropbox, Google Drive Upgrade, iCloud, Vimeo , Youtube, Zoom etc.], advertising (like Facebook and Instagram post boosts) and other materials needed to complete your project.

For Individual Teens: Teens who are not part of a youth group will have the opportunity to workshop an idea for COVID-19 messaging with Alaska Teen Media Institute (ATMI) through Zoom. Teens who participate will receive compensation (gift cards). Grant recipients are also strongly encouraged to participate in this interactive Zoom meeting in order to share their plans for their messaging campaigns and gain teen collaborators.

Each selected project is limited to a maximum of $1,500 and must be focused on addressing two or more of the following goals. 

Messaging Goals:

  • Increase awareness that COVID-19 is an extremely contagious virus that people can give to other people—even if they don’t have symptoms.
  • Increase community awareness of the need to flatten the curve (slow the rate at which people get the virus).
  • Help connect people to resources in the community.
  • Promote the use of the Careline (more info about Careline at carelinealaska.com).
  • Promote healthy activities while hunkering down (social distancing).  
  • Promote activities that contribute to mental health while hunkering down (social distancing). This includes healthy relationships, staying connected (including special events like high school graduation), happiness, entertainment, amusement, etc. Get creative! You know what other teens would enjoy!

Deadline May 15, 2020. Read the grant guide here. Apply here.

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22nd Spirit of Youth Awards Cancelled

March 12, 2020

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the 22nd Spirit of Youth Awards have been cancelled. We would like to thank all the sponsors, nominees, and those who nominated a youth, for participating. 

 

Congratulations to the 2020 honorees:

Dreamer
Derek Booth has learned how to produce professional looking traditional attire. He sews nightly with his grandma, spending time with her and passing on traditions. Most of his garments, which are coveted by many in Kotzebue, are given away for free. 

Runner Up: When funding failed from the Anchorage School District, Geneva Luteria looked for opportunities in the Anchorage Assembly to figure out alternatives to a Tagalog class.

 

Innovator
Anna DeVolld has developed a program called Promote Our Pollinators. This project strives to educate the public about the importance of pollinators and to provide easy to implement ways to support these essential creatures.

Runner up: Grace Hopkins raises hundreds annually for The Door Youth Shelter fundraiser “One Homeless Night” where she builds a box city and spends the night outside.

Life-Saver
Sheryl Swarner was recently involved in saving the lives of three teenagers. Due to her quick actions and directions, the outcome of the event was not tragic.

Runner up: Students Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (SDA) was created by and for teens and young adults, to help engage the power, energy and creativity of high school and college students in the fight against gun violence.

Discovery
Alicyn BahnkeZoe OkleasikQuannah Potts and Nanieezh Peter were inspired to take action due to their personal experiences with climate change in their communities. In a resolution to the Alaska Federation of Natives they declared a climate emergency and created a climate action leadership task force to advance Indigenous voices and advocate for strong climate policies that will ensure the survival of future generations.

Phoenix
Kevin Grimes is a strong member of Facing Foster Care in Alaska. He mentors youth from all ages ranging from 13-25.

Runner up: Shaelene Swanson has had a turbulent upbringing, but despite everything she’s been through, she has remained resilient.

Role Model
For the past five years, Margaret Wolfe has volunteered as the childcare provider for an Anchorage area women’s AA meeting on Saturday mornings. She also helps with youth group activities at her church, assisting with service projects and youth activities.

Runner up: Eli Knapp has been a part of a number of youth-led activities, including R.O.C.K Mat-Su and Special Olympics, as well as helping in his classroom.

Visionary
Sarah Mixsell founded the non-profit organization Alaska Kids for Kids in 2011 when she was nine years old. Under Sarah’s leadership, the organization has raised over $20,000 in funds and other donations that directly benefit youth in Alaska.

Runner up: Zoe Nelles created the Sandwich Project at Palmer High School. She makes lunches for kids so they have food over the weekends.

Humanitarian
In June of 2018, Garrett Graham formed a team called “Garrett’s Got Guts” which participated in the Take Steps for Crohn’s and Colitis fundraising event. He has taken action to educate himself, his classmates, and his community members about genetic disorders with both humor and sincerity.

Runner up: In order to alleviate isolation among senior citizens, Elora Reichert created a traveling petting zoo at a senior living home in her community.

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$3,000 Bullying Prevention Grant Available-Deadline Extended to October 21

September 12, 2019

Empowering Youth Voice to End Bullying 

Preventing Bullying and Its Consequences

Spirit of Youth is working to improve the behavioral health of Anchorage youth. Through community input and local data, we learned there is a direct link between poor mental health conditions and bullying. Our efforts focus on preventing bullying and its consequences, which includes poor mental health. Toward this end we provide training, efforts to improve policies, and build awareness around the issue.

Grant Goals

The four $3,000 Bullying Prevention Campaign Grants are specifically intended to support youth led projects for Anchorage middle and high school students that meet the following goals:

  • Promote respect and inclusion;
  • Increase the broad community awareness and concern of bullying and its serious consequences;
  • Use of the Careline (More info about Careline at http://carelinealaska.com/);
  • Reduced stigma among middle and high school youth about reporting bullying;
  • Increase awareness among students, parents, teachers and ASD staff of what bullying is;
  • Community members advocate for bullying prevention.

Deadline is October 21st! Apply at https://bit.ly/2lRNKGi. Full grant guide available https://bit.ly/2lOYghF.

Previous grant recipients have included:

  • KNBA Youth Health Reporters
  • You Are Not Alone – West High
  • Story Works Alaska Youth Team (SAYiT)
  • LWV Anchorage / Anchorage Youth Vote
  • Stone Soup Group
  • Junior National Honor Society – Romig Middle School
  • Benny Benson Secondary School
  • Ignition Mentorship – Dimond High
  • Boys & Girls Club Eagle River
  • You Are Not Alone – Hanshew Middle School
  • Clark Middle School Informers

 

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2019 Spirit of Youth Radio Stories

August 22, 2019

Teens from across the state were honored for the good work they are doing in their communities at the 2019 Spirit of Youth Awards, which took place March 30 at the Anchorage Downtown Marriott.

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2019 Spirit of Youth Awardees

February 27, 2019

The 2019 Spirit of Youth Awards highlights 8 dedicated young people from around Alaska.

This year’s Award recipients are from Anchorage, Chugiak, Healy, Juneau,
Kodiak, Nikiski, Palmer, Shishmaref, Soldotna and Utqiagvik. We invite you to honor them March 30 at the Anchorage Mariott at 7 p.m. as they share their inspirational stories.

Check out the winners here.

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Purchase your seat to the 2019 Spirit of Youth Awards!

February 12, 2019

Ticket sales have closed! If you need to make a last minute change or order email info@spiritofyouth.org.

Youth from across the state of Alaska will be honored for their hard work and contributions to the community at the Spirit of Youth Awards, March 30 at 6 PM at the Anchorage Downtown Marriott. Purchase your tickets below, and join us in celebration of the Spirit of Youth’s 2019 Spirit of Youth Award recipients!

****Important note: If you are paying by credit card, please select the PayPal option and then the “pay with debit or credit card” button on the next screen.

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2018 Bullying Prevention Grants Available

November 26, 2018

 

Preventing Bullying and Its Consequences

Spirit of Youth is working to improve behavioral health of Anchorage youth. Through community input and local data, we learned there is a direct link between poor mental health conditions and bullying. Our efforts focus on preventing bullying and its consequences, which includes poor mental health. Toward this end we provide training, efforts to improve policies, and build awareness around the issue.

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2018 Spirit of Youth Radio Stories

October 12, 2018

From Kotlik to Kodiak, teens from across the state were honored for the good work they are doing in their communities at the 2018 Spirit of Youth Awards, which took place April 27 at the Anchorage Downtown Marriott.

The Spirit of Youth Awards is the organization’s premiere event, highlighting dedicated young people and unsung heroes from around Alaska. Now in its 20th year, the awards recognize the hard work and efforts of these future leaders who utilize this opportunity to share their inspiring and heartwarming stories.

Thank you to the Alaska Teen Media Institute for creating these radio stories!

 

Duncan OkitkunKotlik

Duncan shares his Yup’ik culture with the world every chance he gets. His songs and public speaking heals and strengthens people in his village. He performs at his school, instilling pride in his peers and is a great role model for the young people of his village.

Story By Aviva Hirsch, Spirit of Youth

 

Gabriel “Gabe” Miller—Ninilchik

Gabe decided to transfer to a larger school in order to pursue his passion for science. The move added three hours to his school day. Yet, he makes time, through Ninilchik Tribe Teen Center, to work with others to build clubs, programs and places for Ninilchik youth to go for peer support.

Story By Kendrick Whiteman, Bartlett High School

 

Isaiah Dunegan-Lain—Anchorage

In a busy classroom, at lunchtime, Isaiah was the only person who observed a student choking on food. He was able to utilize his first aid/CPR skills and save a life.

Story By Aviva Hirsch, Spirit of Youth

 

Kaylynn Zagyva—Wasilla

Kaylynn participates in many community programs and activities despite recently having surgery for a brain tumor, which caused her to have to relearn much of her speech.

Story By Maile Kamohakula, King Tech High

 

Rafael Bitanga—Kodiak

Rafael is the owner and director of the Crepe Escape, a food booth in Kodiak. He donates 10 percent of Crepe Escape’s profits to the Brother Francis Shelter.

Story By Maile Kamohakula, King Tech High

 

Robert Otto—Kodiak

Robert has served as a defense and prosecuting attorney with the Kodiak Teen Court. As a judge, he has mentored new youth attorneys and leads with integrity and honesty.

Story By Danielle DuClos, Dimond High School graduate

 

Robin “Puck” Van Dommelen—Anchorage

Puck has developed a keen interest in conservation of the environment and has lead projects on bird conservation, remediation of natural landscape, documenting and combating invasive species in Alaska. He also conducted an energy audit for his high school.

Story By Danielle DuClos, Dimond High School graduate

 

Rylee Mcintosh—Palmer

Rylee supported the Magic Yarn Project. She and a crew made wigs for children with cancer.

Story By Cornilius Nelson, Bartlett High School graduate

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