Californian Honored With International Youth Award

Lizzie Allison, a 17-year-old who has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help foster kids celebrate birthdays, is the recipient of the 2019 CARTER Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Individual, presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

The CARTER Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy honors a young person with a proven record of exceptional generosity. The youth must demonstrate outstanding civic and charitable responsibility while encouraging others to engage in philanthropy on a community, national, and/or international level. The award was slated to be presented later today at AFP’s international conference.

Allison was inspired to help foster kids after being in the musical, “Annie.” When she couldn’t find a service project where a young kid could help, she did her own research and found that foster kids rarely get to celebrate birthdays. She decided to create a birthday box: a box filled with everything needed to throw a birthday party, including plates, napkins, plasticware, decorations, handmade cards, cake and frosting.

Allison launched her own nonprofit, Team Celebrate, at age 15 with the initial first-year goal of celebrating 100 foster kids in her community of Sacramento, Calif. Almost two years later, she and her team of more than 3,000 volunteers have celebrated more than 1,000 foster kids. She has averaged 20 hours a week working on her nonprofit: Designing, coding and maintaining a website; Building relationships with foster care agencies; Fundraising and meeting with corporate partners; and, recruiting volunteers — along with making and delivering lots of birthday boxes.

“I am thrilled to be recognized for my work and I am even more excited to share Team Celebrate’s mission with a group of philanthropy professionals who in their own right are changing the world,” said Allison.

Team Celebrate has raised more than $80,000 from individual donors to help make and ship birthday boxes. The charity has also received grants and other support from corporations such as Sam’s Club, Allstate, Intel, Mattress Firm and Morgan Stanley.

Allison recently partnered with Dale Carlsen, the founder of Mattress Firm and the CEO of Ticket to Dream Foundation, to create a system that allows young people across the country to celebrate foster kids by making birthday boxes.

“What I love about Lizzie’s story is how proactive she was in identifying a cause important to herself and taking the steps to make her own ideas happen, all at such a young age,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “That’s the very essence of philanthropy and generosity — seeing where the need is and taking action to help. I am just in awe of her amazing efforts, and all of us at AFP are so honored to be able to recognize her with our CARTER youth award.”