Seattle Teen Gives Rwandan Girls The Gift of Education

You are never too young to change the world, and Jessica Markowitz is living proof. The Seattle Times reports that Markowitz was just a sixth grader when she learned about Rwandan children who were orphaned by genocide and war. She rallied her classmates to raise money to support Rwandan girls, and three years later, has raised nearly $40,000. By the way, she's only 14 years old.

Markowitz is the founder of a charity called IMPUWE -- the Rwandan word for compassion -- that currently sends 22 needy Rwandan girls to school. IMPUWE, which also stands for "inspire and motivate powerful, undiscovered women with education," is expanding with five more chapters at Seattle high schools.

On Nov. 5, the Garfield High School freshman will receive the 2009 World of Children Founders Award at UNICEF in New York. The award honors people around the world who are creating innovative programs for children in need. With the $15,000 prize, Markowitz plans to help build a library in Rwanda focused on girls.

She has gone on to partner with a local girls school in Rwanda and spent the past summer teaching English to Rwandan schoolchildren. These experiences have clearly given her a wisdom beyond her years:

"I just think it's really crazy at this age how much you can make a difference," she said. "I guess what's really changed me is just being thankful for everything and never forgetting or giving up, no matter hard it gets sometimes."

Jessica is just one young social entrepreneur working to change the world. Check out our youth activists slideshow to see even more fresh-faced world-changers.