Ellie Zimmerman, 18, of Purchase, New York, a senior at Rye Country Day School, is the founder and CEO of an organization that has recruited thousands of high school students across the country to provide technology assistance to more than 180 nonprofit organizations, as well as to teachers, parents and students struggling with remote learning. During the summer after 9th grade, Ellie tried to find an internship where she could apply her experience in photography and graphic design, but for a variety of reasons, found that to be very difficult. Soon after, she met other teenagers who complained of similar difficulties in securing internships. “I knew I had identified a significant issue for our demographic,” said Ellie, “so I set out to find a solution.”
She interviewed several local nonprofit organizations and learned that all needed help with one technology task or another -- tasks that would be ideal projects for tech-savvy teen volunteers. With prize money from a social entrepreneurship competition, Ellie filed for nonprofit status. Then, she built a website and began advertising for high school students interested in volunteering and for charitable organizations in need of assistance. The response was overwhelming. To date, more than 8,000 students have signed up to help nonprofit organizations with website design, programming, social media marketing, photo management and other technology projects. Ellie’s network also offers a tech hotline, lesson plans, and homework assistance to help teachers, parents and students adapt to the new COVID-19 academic environment.