NEW YORK, N.Y. – On Monday, June 8, Working in Support of Education (W!se) celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Quality of Life INNOVATIONS (QLI). Despite widespread school closures and a nation in lockdown, more than 125 guests marked the occasion by attending a virtual ceremony, which culminated with the announcement of the 2020 prize winners.
During its 25 years, nearly 30,000 students have submitted proposals addressing quality of life issues. Some of the most impactful projects have resulted in: a bill addressing cyberbullying signed into law by Mayor Bloomberg; solar lights installed along highways in Rochester; school bathroom renovations as a result of identifying health code violations; and free SAT prep from KAPLAN that served more than 200,000 low-income young people in NYC supported by a $10 million grant from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation.
This year, 1,153 high school students in all five boroughs — plus New Jersey and Connecticut — participated in developing innovative solutions to quality of life issues in their communities. Of those participants, eight teams were chosen to present their solutions to a group of esteemed judges at the Final Round of the competition.
The 2020 First Place award and $10,000 scholarship was presented to Gary Shteyman, Elizabeth Shvarts, and Amanda Cheng from Staten Island Technical High School for “The Effect of Cybersecurity Education on Students’ Cyber Safety Knowledge.” Gary, Elizabeth and Amanda created cybersecurity lesson plans and seminars benefiting students at their school.
Second Place was presented to Munisa Ziyadullaeva from the High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology for “Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning: A Hope For A Better Future.” Munisa created and built a website to raise awareness; in doing so, she collected over 100 signatures to reform Local Law 1 aimed at decreasing lead exposure in Brooklyn.
The Third Place Award was presented to Nouraldeen Ibrahim, Jake Li and Jeffrey Lin from Staten Island Technical High School High School for “The Effects of Hallways Changes on Overcrowding in Physical and Virtual Settings.” They delivered a compelling presentation using simulation software to recreate the experience of an overcrowded hallway given the impact of COVID-19.
“The Quality of Life INNOVATIONS program and competition encourages students to generate ‘feasible real world solutions’ for pressing community issues they care about. These extraordinary proposals mark 25 years of social entrepreneurship, and a commitment to improving the lives of others,” said Phyllis Perillo, President and CEO of W!se. “We are extremely proud of these students and their teachers.”
About Quality of Life INNOVATIONS
QLI invites high school students to become social entrepreneurs by using applied research to solve real-world problems. Students identify a social issue, conduct scholarly research, implement their solutions and submit their proposal for change to the QLI Scholarship Competition. QLI certificates are signed by the Mayor of NYC for the semi-finalist students who complete a civics related research proposal with an original solution to a QLI issue. QLI is a New York City Department of Education Model for Applied Learning that has been featured in local media in the five boroughs of New York City and New Jersey. The QLI program and scholarships are made possible through the generosity of SQN Global, the United Federation of Teachers, the Department of Youth & Community Development, The Rotary Club Foundation of New York, PwC Charitable Foundation, The New York City Council, The Laura Niles Foundation, and the New York City Office of the Mayor.
About Working In Support of Education (W!se)
Working in Support of Education (W!se) is a leading educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in New York City with a mission to improve the lives of young people and at-risk adults through programs in 49 states that develop financial literacy and readiness for college and careers. Our initiatives target low-to-moderate income communities and are built on the five pillars of relevancy, real-world experiences, strong partnerships, volunteerism and assessment.