NEW YORK, N.Y. – On Wednesday, May 31st, Working in Support of Education (w!se) held the 22nd annual Quality of Life INNOVATIONS (QLI) Awards Ceremony, generously hosted by CITI in Tribeca. 150 guests attended the event, which was capped off with the announcement of the 2017 prize winners.

More than 790 high school students in all 5 boroughs, New Jersey and Long Island submitted proposals with innovative solutions to quality of life issues in their communities. Of those teams, eight were chosen to present their solutions to a group of esteemed judges at the Final Round of the competition, which was also held at CITI earlier in the day.

Erin Baskett, Managing Partner and CFO/CCO of Autonomous Research, the lead sponsor of QLI, presented the top teams with their trophies and scholarships.

The 2017 First Place award was presented to Tomer Poole-Dayan and Nicholas Tarr from Bronx High School of Science for “Overflowing Litter Baskets.” The pair created a map of litter baskets and their fullness between 10th Street and 22nd Street on 5 different avenues and found that the average wire basket had a fullness index of 2.41, while the average deluxe garbage can had a fullness index of only 1.91. To address the issue, the students proposed installing more BigBelly solar trash compactors. The pair split $15,000 in scholarship money.

The Second Place award was presented to Daiana Chen and Yerim Lee from Staten Island Technical High School for “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) Awareness.” The team raised awareness of NIHL throughout their school, secured approval for the incorporation of a lesson on NIHL in their school’s health classes and plan to work with their school’s MakerSpace program to construct “Jolene the Mannequin” (a decibel measuring tool), using a manual provided by the organization Dangerous Decibels. The pair were awarded $8,000 in scholarship money.

The Third Place award was presented to Eliseo Nesci from Edward R. Murrow High School for his proposal “Community Health and Waste Management Solutions.” Nesci found that Gravesend Bay has been environmentally exploited over the years and proposed that Southwest Brooklyn be granted a Superfund to ensure its protection and the purification of toxic wastes from the bay’s sediments. He also proposed that the real solution to NYC’s recycling woes lies in increasing incentives for citizens, private businesses and haulers to recycle. He received $6,000 for his winning proposal.

Sterling Roberson, VP for Career and Technical Education High Schools at the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), who has participated in the QLI awards ceremony for the last five years, said: “The UFT has strongly supported the Quality of Life INNOVATIONS program. There are very few programs that equip students with critical college and career skills such as research and writing while also instilling in them a passion for innovative civic engagement. Exceptional programs like QLI must be cherished and nurtured.”

w!se President and CEO Phyllis Frankfort Perillo noted: “I’m thrilled that for 22 years, students have been making a difference in their communities through this social entrepreneurship project. The proposals this year were extraordinary.”

QLI is the only program with certificates signed by the Mayor of NYC for students who complete a civics related research proposal with an original solution to a QLI issue. School policing, recycling, financial education, dietary diseases, early childhood reading and atmospheric pollution were among the issues students chose this year.

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 real world social issue, undertake scholarly research, develop feasible solutions and have the opportunity to submit their proposal for change to the QLI Scholarship Competition.  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.  Supporters of the program include Autonomous Research, the United Federation of Teachers, Museum of American Finance, the New York City Office of the Mayor and Marathon Ventures.

About 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 46 states that develop financial literacy and readiness for college and the workforce.

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