Applicant FAQs

What are the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards?

The Awards recognize up to fifteen Jewish teens who are extraordinary leaders in community service with $36,000 each. Awardees are teens who show significant drive and leadership in creating and leading a new initiative – or who have considerably deepened or expanded an existing project. They embody the values of tikkun olam, repairing the world.

What kinds of projects/initiatives does Diller look for?

Projects can have a local, national, or global focus benefiting the Jewish or general community. Applicants can create a new project or contribute to an established initiative if they demonstrate a current, significant leadership role in an existing organization or project. We recommend you view past Award recipients to get an understanding of the types of projects that have been recognized.

What if my project is smaller in scale? Can I apply if my project is for my school or community?

Yes. While recipients of the Award are regional, national, or international in scale, many recipients have been recognized as an Awardee for their impact on their local communities. You are encouraged to apply if the tikkun olam project is making an impact at any level.

If I don’t have a single major project, can I apply for a combination of volunteering efforts?

While it is great to be involved in a variety of meaningful tikkun olam and community service initiatives, leaders are awarded for their current work on one specific project or initiative. Applicants should describe their work on a single project.

Who is eligible to apply for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards?

Applicants must be:

  • 13-19 years old
  • Currently serving in a leadership role on a project/initiative aimed at repairing the world
  • Identify as Jewish
  • Volunteering without any compensation
  • Residents of the United States

Note: Teens who have created and co-led projects with others are welcome to apply individually for the Tikkun Olam Award. In such cases, each applicant will be considered and evaluated separately, and no more than one applicant per project will be chosen as an award recipient.

Note: Teens are not eligible for the Award if they have a sibling who has received a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award in the preceding five years.

I’m in college now, can I still apply?

Yes, if you are 13-19 years old. The school grade of an applicant is not relevant. Only the age (13-19) at the time of the application deadline.

I just turned 20, can I still apply?

Applicants must be 13-19 years old at the time of the application deadline. If you turn 20 after the application deadline, you still meet the requirements.

What happens after I apply?

Candidates receive an automatic confirmation message upon successful submission of an application. If you do not see your confirmation email, be sure to check your spam folder. Please contact the Diller team if you have technical difficulties or any questions:  [email protected].

What can Award recipients do with the Award?

The $36,000 Award may be used to further the recipient’s philanthropic work or for their education. Recipients can speak with philanthropic advisors at the Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund, who will explain their financial options.

Is this a scholarship?

This is an Award that can be used to help fund your education but is not specifically a scholarship. Some recipients choose to direct some of the funds toward their project/initiative and some toward their college education. Awardees can choose how to allocate the Award.

What do Awardees receive in addition to $36,000?

In addition to receiving a $36,000 Award, recipients travel to San Francisco in August for a retreat and Awards celebration weekend, including up to two guests. In addition, Awardees become part of a national cohort of Jewish teen leaders. As part of the cohort experience, Awardees can connect with one another, receive public relations support for their project from a professional PR firm, receive professional headshots, and are filmed for a video highlighting their tikkun olam project. Awardees also become part of a greater alumni network of other leaders, dating back to the first year of the Awards in 2007.

How does Diller decide who receives an Award?

There is an extensive evaluation process with Review and Selection Committees consisting of over 100 volunteers nationwide. Reviewers use an evaluation system that focuses on current, demonstrated leadership, commitment, engagement of others, sustainability, and community service impact over time. Multiple evaluators read each application, and their scores determine which applications continue to semifinalist and finalist rounds. The Selection Committee then reviews the finalist applications. Awardees are selected through a committee process, and Awardees will be notified in late May.

What are the Award evaluation criteria?

To qualify for an Award, applications should:

  • Focus on a single project or initiative led by the applicant
  • Demonstrate that the applicant has made a significant and impactful contribution in a leadership role, either in initial project creation or over time
  • Show the project’s measurable impact
  • Provide a clear articulation of the issue area(s) the project is serving, which can be local or global, serving the community at large or the Jewish community directly

Will you award the start-up of my new project?

No. The Award focuses on the established and demonstrated leadership of applicants currently working on one specific project. Applicants are not awarded for a concept that has not yet been initiated or is still in its very early stages. The application asks about the impact your project has, and you will need to be able to show through metrics what has been accomplished.

It sounds competitive. Should I still apply?

We encourage teens to apply and use the application as a tool to consider the elements of their work that are strong as well as their areas for growth. Many teens have said that it is a valuable experience just to be nominated and recognized for their work. Others have also said that the process of filling out an application and articulating their ideas on paper was beneficial and helped them move their project forward. Some teens who received the Award said they were surprised that they were selected, thinking they wouldn’t receive the Award amongst the other impressive applicants.

When are applicants notified of their status?

Semifinalists are notified in February; finalists are notified in March. Award recipients are notified in May. All Awardees are publicly announced in late June.

Can I apply again if I’ve applied in the past?

Yes. A nominee/applicant not selected in the past may apply again. Many applicants have received the award after applying twice or more!

Who funds this program?

The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards is a program of the Helen Diller Family Foundation.  Jewish values inform the work of the Foundation. The Foundation believes that supporting Jewish teens today creates generations of strong Jewish leaders.  In the words of Helen Diller, “It’s never too late, too early, or too often to give back and make the world a better place.”

Can co-leaders apply for the Award together?

No. The Award recognizes individual leadership, so teens may not submit one application together. Multiple teens currently working on the same project can apply individually, if they are each eligible. We encourage individuals to focus on their specific leadership contributions. Applicants will be evaluated separately, and for any given project, only one individual leader may receive an award. If multiple teens apply for the same project, they each need to be comfortable with any selection outcome.

Do I need to be nominated to apply?

No. You do not need to be nominated to be considered for the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards, and each teen who is nominated is also required to complete and submit an application. We encourage adult mentors to honor a teen leader by nominating them and encouraging them to submit their application.

What happens after I am nominated?

Teens receive an email letting them know that they were nominated, along with instructions on how to complete the application process. Nominees fill out an application on the website in order to apply for the Award.

Is this a needs-based award?

The Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards are merit-based and not based on financial need. No FAFSA or other financial documentation is considered.

Where can I begin the application or log into my account?

Applicants can begin the application here or log into their portal by clicking here. Note: Applications will be open and available between August and January.

Do I need to submit attachments with my application?

While attachments are not required, applicants are encouraged to include attachments (up to 10 pages) that support their application. Examples of attachments include a resume, budget, or marketing materials.

Do I need to submit letters of recommendation with my application?

No. If an applicant advances to the semifinalist or finalist rounds, they will be asked to submit contact information for references who are familiar with the project. Letters of recommendation may be included as optional attachments to support the application.

Does my project need to be related to the Jewish community?

No. Projects can, but do not need to, be related to the Jewish community in order to be eligible for the Award.

When do nominations and applications open?

August of each year.

Can a sibling of an Awardee apply?

Yes, siblings of past Awardees can apply if their sibling has not received the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award in the preceding five years.

What tips do you have for applicants filling out the application for the first time?

We encourage teens to review the entire application or download the writeable PDF before beginning to answer questions. The application has several sections and can be completed over the course of 5 months, from August to early January.

Can a parent, guardian, or advisor fill out the application on the teen’s behalf?

No. Applicants are encouraged to seek feedback and guidance from others familiar with their project, but the teen must fill out the application themselves. The Awards team is also available via text and email if applicants need help completing the application.

“It is never too late, too early, or too often TO GIVE BACK AND MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE”
Helen Diller