Announcing the 2022 Student Awards!

As we close the books on this school year, I can only look back with admiration at this incredible group of students I’ve had the joy of working with. This year brought a head-spinning amount of change for all of us, but especially students, as schools attempted to find a “new normal” in the wake of the pandemic. The year had its ups and downs; its victories and its tragedies. Through it all, our clubs and leaders continued to organize for the sake of kids everywhere. 

In special recognition of their hard work and dedication to improving the lives of kids this school year, we are thrilled to announce the winners of the 2022 Student Awards! This group of stand-out leaders and clubs went above and beyond in their efforts to mobilize their communities and take action for kids.

Leadership Award Winners

Avery (second from left), with her officer team.

Avery Shippen

Hume Fogg High School, Tennessee

Avery was the talented young leader of the impressive and always-reliable club at Hume-Fogg High School. If something needed doing we could always count on Avery to take care of it; often we didn’t even need to ask! Avery brought an artistic touch to her club’s advocacy with fun projects like a collaborative tree mural where students contributed messages about climate change, or decorating cookies and valentines cards for the Have a Heart campaign! Avery’s achievements as an advocate even earned her a spotlight in the Nashville Scene’s Student Issue. We’re ecstatic about Avery’s plans to start a new SCAN club at George Mason University this fall!


Ella Mbanefo

Deerfield Academy, Massachusetts 

Ella was a joy to work with this year and she made her leadership role look effortless. She brought creative ideas and used them to organize the two largest letter writing events we saw at any school this year. In the fall, Ella and her team hosted a Therapy Dogs & Advocacy event, letting students play with pups and write letters in support of children’s education. This spring, students collaborated to paint a mural elevating girl’s education while asking people to write postcards for child nutrition investments. They collected over 250 letters between the two events, which secured their #3 spot in the Club Challenge!

Erin (right), at a postcard writing party.

Erin Yoo

Illinois Math & Science Academy, Illinois

Erin Yoo led an outstanding team of young advocates that dominated our Club Challenge competition all year long. With Erin at the helm, the IMSA chapter hosted a consistent stream of successful events including guest speakers, documentary screenings, postcard writing, and more! Their donation drive for a local food pantry was an amazing highlight. They even created their own website! Erin’s leadership was a key component of the club’s success. She kept her team focused and always planned two steps ahead – she was even ahead of me most of the time! I know Erin has big things ahead of her.


Ryan McRoberts

New Mexico State University, New Mexico

Ryan might be the most determined student leader I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Ryan was the one and only leader of the NMSU chapter nearly the whole year, but she was determined to recruit a new team before she graduated. Ryan shouldered the responsibility of planning club activities with grace, and organized several engaging events that brought in new members. Noteworthy, was a Mental Health panel discussion for the MINDS Act Month of Action in her last moments on campus! She used this opportunity to bring in several talented new leaders. We’re excited about what comes next for NMSU!


Taylor Perez

Miami Arts Studio, Florida

Taylor Perez is the youngest Leadership Award recipient and the only awardee not graduating this term! One of the most important aspects of a good leader is just showing up. As they say, it’s half the battle. Taylor had perfect attendance on our national training webinars, and I could always count on her to be signed in, smiling with the camera on, and ready to go! Her club was new to advocacy this year, but she jumped at every opportunity to mobilize her club to ask lawmakers to prioritize kids. Taylor will return to her leadership role next fall, and we only expect her to improve from here!

Club Challenge Winners

Clubs competed in the Save the Children/SCAN Club Challenge all year—a friendly competition between clubs to earn points for taking action to improve children’s lives! So many clubs had an impressive showing in the inaugural season of the Club Challenge, but only four can claim the top prize: a grant opportunity for up to $1,500 for their club to host an exciting and innovative event next school year!

#1 Illinois Math & Science Academy, Illinois

IMSA dominated the Club Challenge and held the top spot all year long. Organizing several unique events each semester, this talented and effective club was impressive to behold. Among the highlights was a Food Security Awareness Week they hosted in partnership with other school clubs and a local food pantry to collect food donations and advocate for children’s nutrition programs. To close the year out, they collaborated with their school’s PSYCH club to host a guest speaker and discuss the MINDS Act and kids’ mental health. Other guest speakers, film screenings, petition drives, digital advocacy and more make up IMSA’s impressive lineup of events, making them the hands-down winners of the Club Challenge!

#2 University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign, Illinois

The rise of the University of Illinois – Urbana Champaign club is probably the fastest, strongest start we’ve ever seen at SCAN! Though, maybe we should have expected that given that the club was founded by the remarkably talented Leland Pan, our 2021 Leadership Award Winner, who just completed her freshman year at UIUC. Leland and her team founded the club in December, meaning they had little more than one semester to secure their spot in the Club Challenge. Once established, they came out like a cannon. In only 5 months, they hosted an advocate training series, held a bake sale for Ukrainian kids, wrote letters-to-the-editor, and collected nearly 200 postcards to IL lawmakers. We can’t wait to see what this club does with a full year to plan!

#3 Deerfield Academy, Massachusetts

The Club at Deerfield Academy’s approach to organizing must be “if you’re going to something, do it big and do it right!” They stayed true to the fundamentals of advocacy and organized one huge letter writing activity each semester, collecting in total over 250 messages from students to their members of Congress! In the fall, Ella and her team hosted a Therapy Dogs & Advocacy event, letting students play with pups and write letters in support of children’s education. This spring, students collaborated to paint a mural elevating girl’s education while asking people to write postcards for child nutrition investments.

#4 Spring Valley High School, South Carolina

The club at Spring Valley High School continues to be one of the most consistent and reliable in our program. Boasting a large and dynamic leadership team, they manage to pack in multiple activities each month and never miss out on a campaign issue. This club keeps things interesting with creative ideas engaging their members, like decorating plates to advocate for nutritious school meals or packing goodie bags for local kids in need in partnership with Lutheran Services Carolinas. They also had strong contributions to our Have a Heart and MINDS Act Campaigns by hosting guest speakers at their club meetings and writing letters. We’re looking forward to another year of success with this awesome group!

Additional Club Awards

Rising Star Award: South Windsor High School, Connecticut

I first started working with the South Windsor High School Club in March of this year, and they quickly made a splash with their passionate support of local refugees. This winter, they collected over 40 boxes of warm winter clothes for refugee youth and raised over $1,000. This spring, some of the club members volunteered with South Windsor Refugee Alliance to decorate a refugee family’s home to make them comfortable as they settled into the community. With such great community service projects, we’re eager to see what this group gets up to with a full school year!

Extra Mile Award: Redmond High School, Washington

The leaders at Redmond High School deserve a special shout out for navigating a frustrating situation at their school. Nearly every club we work with registers or gets approval from their school as an official student club, allowing them to access resources like meeting space and promotion privileges. Unfortunately, Redmond administrators have denied their application to register their SCAN club—a ruling the leaders are working hard to appeal. Still, these amazing advocates had a lot of success this year engaging their classmates in letter writing for the Have a Heart and MINDS Act campaigns; and they did it all without the support of their school! Perhaps more impressive, we’ve enjoyed seeing the leaders put their skills in action as they campaign for their right to form their club.

Innovation Award: Flushing STC Club, New York

The Flushing Save the Children Club is the only club in our program that is not affiliated with a single school. Instead, their unique approach is to connect students from multiple schools and organize as a community. This of course presents challenges other clubs don’t face, but it also allows for more collaboration and freedom to innovate. They also seem to have a lot of fun! They’ve hosted game and movie night fundraisers and club picnic, and even partnered with the Benjamin N. Cardozo High School STC Club for an event. For the holidays, they held a “Letters of Hope” event collecting handwritten letters for members of their community experiencing hardships. We’re truly inspired by this club’s creativity and appetite for building community!


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Brody Armstrong is the Student Engagement Manager at Save the Children Action Network. He enjoys music, hiking, and empowering young people to be advocates for change.