SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – The Helen Diller Family Foundation presents ten young leaders in volunteerism nation-wide with the annual Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards and $36,000 each in recognition of their leadership, innovation and commitment to making the world a better place.

This year, two of the recipients are from the Bay Area.  Skylar Dorosin of Palo Alto started a program that teaches swimming and water polo to girls from low-income communities. Talia Young of Lafayette created a poetry club that works to empower high school students and eliminate stereotypes.

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Rachel Bloom, Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards Program Manager, said “the purpose of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award is to recognize and celebrate Jewish teens who are role models in community service and Helen Diller and the Helen Diller Family Foundation really believe that teens do have the power to make change now and that their example can inspire both other teens and adults to really recognize their potential and create a ripple effect so that even more people are being involved in helping to repair the world.”

“Tikkun olam” is a central precept of Judaism meaning to repair the world.

KCBS’ Connie C. Kim talks to Rachel Bloom, Skylar Dorosin and Talia Young:

Now in its 13th year of giving, the Foundation has granted more than $200 million to support education, the arts, medical research and development, leadership training programs for teens and many other charitable endeavors.

The 2013 recipients were selected by committees of educators and community leaders from across the United States.

As a competitive water polo player, Skylar Dorosin of Palo Alto, wanted to share her positive experience with the sport with those who did not have the opportunity.  In 2010, she created Project 2020 to give young girls from lower-income communities the opportunity to be a part of a team, to learn how to swim and to play water polo—building their self-esteem and encouraging them to work together.

“It’s been incredible,” Dorosin discussed her experience with the project.  “We’ve grown from having 10 kids at a clinic five years ago to having 30 kids with a wait list.  Over 250 kids have gone through our program and it’s been incredible to see the girls’ transformation and the program’s growth.”

Dorosin has partnered with Olympian Brenda Villa and the East Palo Alto YMCA to expand the program.

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More than anything, she says the reward is seeing the effect the program has on these young girls.

“You can just see the self confidence on their faces, they don’t want to get out of the water. When we’re in the pool we’re not from different communities – we’re all together working on the same team, playing the same sport.  It’s awesome.”

Talia Young of Lafayette created a poetry club to give struggling teens a creative outlet. (Diller Teen Awards)

Talia Young of Lafayette created a poetry club to give struggling teens a creative outlet. (Diller Teen Awards)

Talia Young of Lafayette created a poetry club for her peers called “Looking for Home” to offer a supportive environment for these teens dealing with depression, eating disorders and the pressures of high school.  It soon expanded beyond her high school to teens all over San Francisco.

“It gave me a lot of self confidence and a feeling of self worth and that I had something to offer,”  Young shared how spoken word helped her.  She wanted to do the same for other people so they “could have that as well to feel like their story was of value and worth being told in front of an audience.”

Since beginning the club and workshop series Young has developed a guide featuring students’ poetry and curriculum ideas to inspire other Bay Area schools to launch similar programs.

A celebratory luncheon honoring the teens will be held in San Francisco on Monday, August 26th.

To learn more about these awards and the award recipients themselves, or to nominate winners for 2014, go to

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