Matthew Kaplan who is a recipient of the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award and will receive a $36,000 award to recognize his work for his organization aiming to put an end to bullying, The Be ONE Project. Matthew formulated a peer-to-peer initiative that engages middle school students nationwide in anti-bullying games and guided discussions to create a more inclusive school environment. Matthew is one of 15 teens who have been recognized for being empowering, young, socially minded leaders who have successfully worked for change on issues from education to public policy, science, to the environment.
Now in its ninth year, the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards have given more than $2.5 million dollars to 70 Jewish teens who are tackling global issues and creating lasting change through tikkun olam – the vision of Bay Area Philanthropist Helen Diller, quiet force behind The Helen Diller Family Foundation.
“I’m so grateful to the Helen Diller Family Foundation for recognizing my work with The Be ONE Project by awarding me the Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award. In the Jewish community, “tikkun olam” translates directly to repairing the world. I grew up with this idea that each of us has a responsibility to make our part of the world a better place. Receiving this award is real validation of my work to create positive and inclusive middle-school communities.”
The idea behind this initiative came when Matthew always looked out for his younger brother. When he learned that some of his brother’s classmates had been bullying him via text and social media, Matthew decided to address the explosion of pernicious and pervasive bullying being targeted at and perpetrated by his peers. Matthew then developed The Be “Open to New Experiences” (Be ONE) Project. Descriptions of all 15 Award recipients and their projects can be found at: www.dillerteenawards.org.
The Be ONE Project now has 501(c)(3) status and has expanded its outreach efforts through a public service announcement on Disney Channel and partnership with Teen Lifeline, a local teen crisis response organization. Through community programs and speaking engagements, Be ONE has engaged hundreds of teen volunteers and reached more than 3,600 students in Arizona, California, Virginia, and Indiana.