Claremont, Calif. (October 31, 2014)—Pitzer College student Eli Erlick ’17 won a $25,000 Peace First Prize for her work as an advocate for transgender youth. The national, two-year fellowship recognizes leaders aged 8-22 who are focused on making lasting social change in their communities and is awarded by Peace First, a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to creating the next generation of peacemakers. Erlick was one of five winners, selected from more than 1,100 nominees from around the country.
Erlick received the Peace First Prize at a ceremony at the National Press Club in Washington DC. During the presentation, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the winners of the Peace First Prize “inspire hope in all of us.”
“I commend these extraordinary young people who are doing great work and making a real difference in their schools and communities,” Duncan said in a video address shown at the ceremony. “Through their service to others, they are not only changing their schools and communities, they are helping to change this nation and the world.”
Erlick and the other award recipients also met with Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at the Supreme Court and visited the White House.
In 2011, as a junior in high school, Erlick founded Trans Student Educational Resources, an organization dedicated transforming the educational environment for trans and gender nonconforming students through advocacy and empowerment. Now 19, she is a feminist, gender, sexuality studies major at Pitzer and an advocate for transgender rights who serves as a media expert and speaks around the country at conferences.
Peace First is a nonprofit that works to create the next generation of peacemakers by teaching, modeling and valuing youth peacemaking.