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Gracie Evans Uses Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grant to Build Meaningful Connections Between Teens and Holocaust Survivors

Gracie Evans is a recipient of our Federation’s Los Angeles Jewish Teen Initiative (LAJTI) Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grants. She shares her experience and how the program made an impact on her.

Hi! My name is Gracie Evans and I am a rising senior at Santa Monica High School. I started volunteering at the Museum of Tolerance in 8th grade. There, I would listen to survivor testimonies, direct different exhibits, and greet visitors. In 2018-2019, my older brother Rex, who also volunteered with me, had the idea to hold intergenerational events between Holocaust survivors and teens. The events he held that year were fantastic, so I decided to apply for a Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grant to continue to hold these events throughout the 2019-2020 year. As a dancer and piano player, I wanted to incorporate my love for the arts into these events. With the grant money, I held three events this year at the Museum of Tolerance that contained dance performances, concerts, and delicious food. These events not only fostered meaningful friendships but also enabled teens and Holocaust survivors to learn from one another in an intimate setting. I am so grateful to have received the Federation’s LAJTI Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grant for funding these events and to Elana Samuels, Director of Museum Volunteer Services at the Museum of Tolerance, for giving me the space to develop these impactful connections.

What was the most impactful part of being a Teen Innovation Grant recipient?

I found having the support and resources to put on my events the most impactful. The grant allowed me to reach a greater audience with my project and I could not be more grateful for that. The joyous sense of accomplishment and pride I felt after watching my events come to fruition truly would not have been possible without this grant.

How will you take what you learned from your experience and implement it in future endeavors?

Receiving this grant helped me learn to account for budgetary constraints and other external factors when planning large-scale events. These skills are integral when it comes to actualizing an idea, and I will apply them in the future.

Have you participated in any LAJTI or Federation programs prior to the Teen Innovation Grants?

I have not, however, I have been a teen volunteer at the Museum of Tolerance for several years.

Will you continue to put on events for Holocaust survivors?

I plan to hold additional events for Holocaust survivors this year and am already planning a virtual event with the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust Teen Board!

What would you say to any teen who has an idea but doesn’t know about the Julie Beren Platt Teen Innovation Grant?

I would recommend getting involved with the different museums and organizations in Los Angeles. Many of these places have connections with LAJTI and our Federation, and chances are they know about this wonderful grant program and will help you develop your idea!