The Sidekick Collective hunts for high-school students with the potential to make the world a better place.
UPDATE, 3:46 p.m.: The Sidekick Collective surprised Chelan High School senior Lupe Vieyra, naming her this year’s “Cosmic Hero” at a school assembly Friday afternoon.
Vieyra’s leadership as a mentor to middle school kids led to Chelan High School becoming the second high school in the country to train students to become mentors through the WhyTry Program, which aims to improve students’ responses to social and academic challenges.
Vieyra wins a $500 prize for her good work so far and $5,000 set aside in an account for her to use when she’s ready to launch a startup or project.
Keep reading to learn more about the contest and the organization.
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A Washington high school student today will be named a “Cosmic Hero” by a local nonprofit that’s taking a venture capitalist’s approach to investing in kids while they’re still in school.
The winner doesn’t know that he or she has even been nominated for the honor – $5,000 set aside for a future project “to make the world a better place” and a $500 prize recognizing their good work so far.
This is the Sidekick Collective’s second year of recognizing high school students in Washington state who are doing good things in their communities that may not be reflected in test scores or sports championships.
The organization was founded last year by 23-year-old Paige Edmiston, a 2013 graduate from the University of Washington.
In 2009, when she was a senior at Federal Way High School, Edmiston won a $25,000 national high school essay contest on patriotism. The contest was sponsored by Seattle venture capitalist Nick Hanauer and Seattle author Eric Liu, who had co-written a book defining patriotism in the 21st century.
Her essay defined true patriots as “a new breed of hero whose special power does not come in the form of superhuman strength or sonic speed but in the very human sentiments of duty, honor, compassion, and pride.”
The Sidekick Collective (every superhero needs a sidekick) uses the mythology of comic book superheroes to recognize students already showing those qualities.
The organization instructed about 120 secret nominators across the state to dig deeper than the typical metrics of success like grades, athletics and community service.
Instead, their mission was to find: “the students who think a little differently, have a big heart, and possess a certain spark that makes you think they will one day change the world.”
Along with the yet-to-be-announced winner, the organization also is recognizing five other students, who do know they’re being honored:
Eliana Parsons, Big Picture High School (Burien), who organized a dance performance at her school to help cover the medical bills facing the family of a classmate whose mother has cancer.
Manjot Singh, Sammamish High School (Bellevue), who founded the school’s chapter of SEWA International, which organizes awareness events and food drives for refugees.
Loren Carrillo, Lincoln High School (Tacoma), who organized a shoe drive called Clean Kicks to help provide shoes to those in the student body and community who need them.
Elida Antunez, Thomas Jefferson High School (Federal Way), who was one of the few students at her school to take notice of the students in the special education program and has inspired her peers to be more inclusive.
Thierry Williamson, K-12 OCEAN program, (Port Townsend), who is a leader in the Port Townsend 4-H Stewardship Program, which helps clean, replant and reinvigorate the Olympic National Forest.