Congratulations to Meghana Rao and the Portland Junior Scientists team! More than 10,000 votes were cast during the Finding Fearless Fan Favorite Voting and after carefully reviewing all of the ballots submitted we are pleased to officially report that the public overwhelmingly selected Portland Junior Scientists to win both Fan Favorite awards. Led by Meghana Rao, Portland Junior Scientists was voted the winner of an additional $10,000 bonus grant AND the REI adventure experience at Bryce Canyon National Park!
We launched Finding Fearless in September to recognize, reward, and inspire fearless changemakers. We received nearly 1,200 nominations with stories of fearless efforts happening around the country. Our Fearless Academy of nearly 100 judges reviewed the nominations and we selected the Top 20 winners. These winners all receive grants from the Case Foundation and the Goldhirsh Foundation ranging between $1,500 and $10,000, $25,000 in Microsoft software donations, an REI gift card, and a Microsoft Prize Pack, altogether totaling nearly $670,000. Additionally, all 20 winners had a chance to win more money and prizes in Fan Favorite Voting and impressively mobilized their communities. We were excited to watch the overwhelming interest in these fearless people and projects. And while Meghana managed to come out on top, all 20 projects have gained new supporters and advocates that will champion their work in the months and years ahead.
More about our Fan Favorite Winner
When Meghana Rao was 16, school funding cuts and a deep passion for science motivated Meghana to create Portland Junior Scientists. Portland Junior Scientists is a student-run volunteer organization connecting high school students with underprivileged and at-risk kids to explore science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with hands-on experimentation and discussion. Meghana’s main goal is to inspire students in underfunded schools lacking a deep science and math curriculum to pursue careers in science. We are excited to work with Portland Junior Scientists to continue to advocate for the importance of science education!
Meghana’s “get out the vote” efforts landed Portland Junior Scientists in first place for both the $10,000 bonus grant from the Case Foundation and the REI Adventure Trip. Meghana and three friends will receive a trip of a lifetime through REI Adventures valued at $5,000. They will get to visit Bryce Canyon National Park through an exclusive camping experience that celebrates having fun outdoors REI-style with the best gear, great food, and incredible guides. REI Adventure’s Signature Camping trip to Bryce Canyon is certain to provide an amazing experience and a lifetime of memories.
We are truly inspired by Meghana and all of our Finding Fearless winners! From youth programs to civic engagement and health, Finding Fearless changemakers are championing new ideas across the country. Check out our infographic with more details on our Finding Fearless participants and stay tuned in the next few months as we continue to lift up all of our winners. We will be following their progress, sharing their stories, and reporting back on lessons from the Finding Fearless program itself. In the meantime, meet the rest of the winners, read their stories, get inspired, and keep supporting their work at FindingFearless.org.