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Teen Servant Leadership Award

The nomination period has CLOSED.

The 2018 winners have been notified and will be posted online in September after the award ceremony at HSLDA's National Leaders' Conference.

All applicants will receive an email announcing the winners the week of Aug 20.

Questions? Email us at SLAward at homeschoolfoundation.org.


In 2017, the homeschool community responded enthusiastically to our second annual Servant Leadership Award, created to encourage homeschooled students’ involvement in community service. Community leaders and parents nominated over 80 teens, whose selfless service ranged from quiet, faithful work in food banks and thrift stores to founding service organizations now impacting multiple states.

These leaders of tomorrow have shown that they are already leaders today, sometimes bringing together nearly 100 volunteers of all ages to make a difference in the lives of the hurting or vulnerable.

Three winners were selected, each receiving a cash prize. The awards were presented at the Home School Legal Defense Association’s annual National Leaders Conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado, in September 2017.

**Scroll down to see 2017's winners!**


Promoting love of neighbor among homeschooled students
through community


Ellie Rutan

Ellie has a passion for instilling in this generation a gratitude for the veterans who have fought for our freedom and a commitment to protect the liberty we have inherited. She is working to show these veterans that the sacrifice they made will not be forgotten. Over the past four years, she has interviewed over sixty WWII veterans and is editing the video interviews for a DVD as part of her “Legacy of Our Fathers Project.” For many families, Ellie’s interview is the first time they have heard in detail of their relative's service. For some veterans, it is the first time they have spoke about the war.

Also in the past year, she spearheaded the formation of a new Young Marines unit for youths and received the Young Marine Achievement Award in 2016 for her efforts. Ellie has brought multiple WWII vets to the local Marine Recruiting office to share about their service with the next generation of soon-to-be Marines. She has volunteered as a musician, photographer, re-enactor, speaker, coordinator, and more at numerous events honoring veterans including the USS Indianapolis Reunions. Ellie's project Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/legacyofourfathersproject.

In her own words:

“The veterans I have been around have shaped a large part of who I am - they taught me to view my freedoms as a priceless treasure that must be defended at all costs. They have shown me what courage, honor, and leadership look like. They have inspired me to be all that I can be. They are my heroes and have forever changed my life for the better.”  ~Excerpt from Ellie's application

Esteban Merkt

When a 7.8 scale earthquake devastated Ecuador in April, 2016, Esteban sought how he could help address the lack of suitable housing and basic shelter. He assembled a team of seven youth and three chaperones and coordinated a 12-day service trip to build houses for people in the poorer neighborhoods of a town called Rio Chico and three surrounding villages. After working on construction by day, the team spent their evenings connecting with underprivileged youth in the town. In addition to planning each day’s schedule and logistics both beforehand and as situations arose throughout the day, Esteban served as the team’s translator.  

In his own words:

I was challenged to become a good leader often times having to struggle with changing situations and unexpected illnesses. The Ecuadorians showed me more about how to make do with what was at hand than I would have been able to learn on my own. Their humility and kindness even in the midst of their poverty is a great source of reflection to me as I review our stay in Ecuador. This service has changed my life, in that I was forced to mature and learn to adapt to situations as they come. Living in Ecuador even for a brief time taught me about the simplicity of life and the brevity of our time on earth. The Ecuadorian people taught me and my Company to live a simpler life, not wrapped up in the things of this world which can easily be lost or taken away. ”  ~Excerpt from Esteban's application

Wiley Skaret

Already an international award-winning pianist, Wiley leads a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable foundation called "James 1," which directly benefits children of Colombian police officers who have died in the line of duty. International organized crime groups and a violent remnant of a 50-year civil war have made the role of police officers in Colombia, South America, a vital but dangerous one.

Wiley and his foundation are working to raise a $500,000 university scholarship endowment for children of these fallen heroes. Wiley performs at benefit concerts and has secured private and corporate donors for his project, but his primary work is serving as the pianist in a series of music videos to raise awareness. His videos are set against beautiful Colombian landscapes and seek to pay homage to the ultimate sacrifice of Colombian officers and the lives of widows and children left behind.

In his own words:

“While I’ve been blessed to give many concerts in many beautiful halls, like Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, etc…, the most gratifying concerts for me have always been those that benefit others in some way.

Colombian police officers that are dying here in Colombia are the tip of the sword against our world’s fight against narcotraffickers and international organized crime. They do, and have done, so much to make this country great. And so when they give the ultimate sacrifice, giving back to their children also just seems right. So many of the officers dying in the line of duty come from humble circumstances….

What can I do? Well, I play the piano. And I’m doing what I can to support Colombia’s finest families. 
~Excerpt from Wiley's application

To learn more about Wiley's project, donate to his cause, or see his videos, please visit www.james1.net or visit him on Facebook @james1piano.

(alphabetical by last name)

Isabella Albert, 15, Collerville, Tennessee
Since the fifth grade, Isabella has been devotedly serving her community. For her latest project called Isabella’s Blessing Box, she created a sustainable outdoor food pantry in an underprivileged area.

Chloe Cholet, 17, Fort Worth, Texas
Chloe founded the Porcorn Joy Project as a means to coordinate teams of local teens to both encourage and serve the homeless and underprivileged in their community in various ways.

Kayleigh Cunningham, 15, Port Saint Lucie, Florida
Kayleigh is co-founder and Co-Executive Director of the Treasure Coast Hope for the Homeless charitable foundation which focuses on helping needy families and shelters throughout her area.

Christina Relich, 17, Richmond, Kentucky
Christina renovated a run-down childcare area at a local church that serves as an open refuge for community children. She founded a book publishing company to allow her to self-publish a children’s book related to her mural in the childcare area. All book proceeds go to charities benefiting poor children.

Adam Stacko, 16, Medina, Ohio
Adam founded a homeschool student council that offers teens education in how to become a servant leader and opportunities to implement their team leadership skills in service projects in their community.

Benjamin Wright, 17, Fleetwood, North Carolina
Despite many medical challenges, Benjamin serves joyfully for a special needs ministry at his church and volunteers weekly at a local place that provides a hot meal for struggling or homebound families.

Past Winners


Helping families homeschool through hard times

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