NEW YORK, N.Y. – On Monday, June 4th, Working in Support of Education (W!se) held the 23rd annual Quality of Life INNOVATIONS (QLI) Awards Ceremony, generously hosted by CITI. 180 guests attended the event, which was capped off with the announcement of the 2018 prize winners.

More than 749 high school students in all 5 boroughs and New Jersey 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, a sponsor of QLI, presented the top teams with their trophies and scholarships.

The 2018 First Place award was presented to Samantha SaintJour from James Madison High School for “Virtual Care Package.” Samantha’s close friend, Rebecca, had to leave her life behind when she turned 18 and aged out of the foster care system. Seeing that her friend lost financial, emotional, and social support, Samantha created an app and website called Virtual Care that provides foster youth with access to information and resources regarding aging out of the system, as well as an adult mentor. She received $15,000 for her winning proposal.

Two teams tied for the Second Place Award: Pridha Kumar from Townsend Harris High School for “Save a Life: Educating NYC Public High School Students in Basic First Aid Knowledge.” She proposed implementing a first aid training program in all NYC public high schools. She trained 700 students in hands-only CPR, AED use, Heimlich maneuver, bleeding control, and limb immobilization and reached an agreement to integrate the training into the core health curriculum at her school; Jonathan Bar-On, Benjamin Bergerson and Jeffrey Rodriguez from the Bronx High School of Science for “Ending the Stagnation of ESL Education.” The team addressed the need to improve education for English Language Leaners (ELLs) in New York. Using California’s ESL education as a model, the team augmented the NY curriculum Blueprint and are working with experts in the field to present the model to TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) executives. Both groups were awarded $8,000 in scholarship money.

The Third Place award was presented to Omar Elmogazy, Daniel Indictor and Dominick Villamor from Staten Island Technical High School for “Keyboard Design and Risky Postural Behavior when Typing.” The team found that extensive computer usage has been linked to the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) relating to the hands, wrists, and arms. To combat these disorders, they constructed a specialized keyboard to reduce risky posture. They proposed the widespread adoption of the alternative keyboard to improve the posture of users and help them avoid behaviors that may lead to the onset of MSDs. The team split $5,000 in scholarship money.

“Autonomous Research supports the Quality of Life INNOVATIONS program because it provides students with an opportunity to learn important skills that will support them in college and beyond. The students learn such skills as research, writing, and the importance of being civically engaged, with my favorite (and important part) being how the students implement their proposal,” said Erin Baskett, Managing Partner and CFO/CCO of Autonomous Research, a sponsor of QLI.

W!se President and CEO Phyllis Frankfort Perillo noted: “I’m thrilled that for 23 years, students have been making a difference in their communities through this social entrepreneurship project. The proposals this year were truly 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.

Click here for photos of the Awards Ceremony.

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 and New Jersey. The QLI program and scholarships are made possible through the generosity of Autonomous Research, the United Federation of Teachers, the Department of Youth & Community Development, Richard and Madeline Schuster, Citi 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 48 states that develop financial literacy and readiness for college and careers.

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