Servant Leadership Award


The Servant Leadership Award recognizes students who have significantly impacted their community through selfless service to others.  The award is open to all homeschooled teens.  Any adult may nominate a teen for the award, after which the teen will be sent a short application to fill out and a reference form to pass on to someone who can testify to the quality and impact of their community service.

Three teens will be selected and invited with their parents to HSLDA’s National Leaders Conference this fall, where they will be awarded prizes of $2,000 each and given the opportunity to briefly address the assembly.

Click here for Eligibility Requirements and the Application Process. >>

In 2016, the homeschool community responded enthusiastically to our first annual Servant Leadership Award, created to encourage homeschooled students’ involvement in community service. Community leaders and parents nominated over 45 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 Asheville, North Carolina, in September 2016.

Promoting love of neighbor among homeschooled students through community

Unity Bowling, age 17
Richmond, VA

Beginning at age nine, Unity has been working to eradicate illiteracy, starting in her home city of Richmond.  As a program coordinator with the organization Read to Them, she leads teams that go into elementary schools to host One School, One Book, a program designed to have all the students in the school and their families reading the same book, to bolster a sense of a reading community.  She expanded the program into four Richmond elementary schools and fundraised the full cost of one year for one of the schools to enable them to begin the program.  She organizes book drives at local schools to provide gently used books for Reach Out and Read VA, helping them supply children with books at home. She has also been involved in literacy development efforts in the Dominican Republic. Unity intends to devote her life to fighting illiteracy on domestic shores and beyond.

In her own words:

“I chose to work with literacy organizations because of a very special student I mentored. She had been held back in kindergarten and was belligerent and seemingly uninterested in learning. Once she learned how to read, she became a completely different child. Her attitude towards learning changed…Seeing that change made something click, and I knew that I was destined to set the ball in motion for as many children as possible, starting in my own neighborhood.”  ~Excerpt from Unity's application

Jacob Caplinger, age 15 

Mount Juliet, TN

Jacob founded a family outreach program called REACH designed to involve local families in service projects in their community.  With approx. 50 active members, Jacob and REACH performed eight substantial service projects last year, assisting nursing homes, rescue missions, the homeless, a local Family Life Center, and individual families.  Under Jacob’s leadership as REACH president, he led or participated in projects that included providing food and shelter to homeless; launching an encouraging card campaign to people struggling with depression and mental health in TN and surrounding states; collecting funds, clothes, bedding, toys and other supplies for needy families; educating about teen pregnancy; and cleaning up areas of Nashville.  

In his own words:

Jacob shared his motivation by saying, “If I’m the only Jesus that people ever see, I want them to know they are loved.”  ~Excerpt from Jacob's application

Katie Prior, age 16 
Oklahoma City, OK

After learning that many veterans’ funerals use an audio recording of Taps because there are not enough military buglers for every funeral, Katie was driven to found the Youth Trumpet & Taps Corps, a non-profit organization that connects student trumpeters with military funerals scheduled in their area to allow for a live playing of Taps during the funeral.  Katie has recruited over 100 volunteers in 33 states to be a part of this movement to honor those who have served and their families.

In her own words:

“Many of the events the volunteers play at would otherwise have no live music and are greatly enhanced by both the musical talents and presence of the high school volunteers. The presence of young people gives hope to our aging veterans as they witness younger generations being patriotic.

“Anyone who has lost a loved one who was a veteran can tell you what an impact the song Taps has, and that for the rest of your life when you hear it, you are reminded of your loved one. My project is impacting more than just veterans’ families: a totally unexpected impact has been on the volunteers themselves. I have seen a rise in the level of patriotism in myself and in my fellow volunteers. It’s really become a project of patriotism through volunteerism.”  ~Excerpt from Katie's application


Congratulations to all who were nominated! You were nominated because those around you recognize the excellence of your selfless service of those in need around you.

Please join us in honoring our 2016 nominees (alphabetical by last name):

Carrie Alberson, Las Cruces, New Mexico

Mckayla Andrews, Cook Station, Missouri

Isabella Baldwin, Germantown, Tennessee

Camille Barnett, Belmont, California

Olivia Bottorff, Henryville, Indiana

Faith Burnett, Spearfish, South Dakota

Gabrielle Carley, Texarkana, Texas

Tessa Clifton, San Marcos, California

Logan Cole, Rosehill, California

Ashlyn Combs, Lexington, South Carolina

Natalie Combs, Lexington, South Carolina

Lindsay Commins, San Jose, California

Jackson Crowe, Downington, Pennsylvania

Elizabeth Daniel, Oakdale, California

Shayna Di Vita, Canyon Country, California

John William Duke, Dothan, Alabama

Anna Fisher, Elmhurst, Illinois

Gabe Fox, Newton, Alabama

Sadie Goodwin, Cleveland, Tennessee

Lydia Harrison, Louisville, Tennessee

Hadrian Heikkila, Joplin, Missouri

Jenny Hula, Bellevue, Nebraska

Kathryn Jernigan, Pensacola, Florida

Morgan Keller, Stevensville, Michigan

Brianna Kosch, Lexington, South Carolina

Jonathan Krutz, Omaha, Nebraska

Rhianwen Landis, Lititz, Pennsylvania

Emma Lee, Bolingbrook, Illinois

Marnie Michael, Gray Court, South Carolina

Isaac McCurdy, Potomac Falls, Virginia

Madilyn Olson, Escondido, California

Joshua Peschel, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin

Stephanie Rudolfo, Waddell, Arizona

Kayla Shea, Waddell, Arizona

Elaina Silvestri, Huntington Station, New York

Weston Smith, Flagstaff, Arizona

Laura Southard, Joplin, Missouri

Mikaydon Thomas, Valley Center, Kansas

Victoria Vera, Humble, Texas

Sharon Wiebe, Newark, California

Ashlyn Wilen, Palmyra, Nevada

Iyanla Xo, Williamsburg, Virginia

Maximus Xo, Williamsburg, Virginia 

Novian Xo, Williamsburg, Virginia

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