A Santa Monica teenager who has helped lead a marine preservation initiative is one of five California youths who will receive a $36,000 award for their efforts to improve communities.

The Helen Diller Family Foundation and The Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties has announced that 18-year-old Megan Kilroy is a 2010 recipient of the prestigious Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award. Each honoree has initiated innovative social action projects that are helping to repair and heal the world, according to the organizations.

These five pioneering California teens will be presented with an award of $36,000 each at a luncheon ceremony in San Francisco on Aug. 23. The awards are funded by the Helen Diller Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.

A Santa Monica High School graduate, Kilroy is one of four teens honored with Nickelodeon’s TeenNick HALO (Helping and Leading Others) Award and the first captain of the high school’s Team Marine, which works on local environmental issues. According to the organizations, she has worked to educate the public about the destructive impact their daily actions can have on the ocean.

The Tikkun Olam Award is named after a Hebrew phrase that means “repair the world” and signifies one of the basic precepts of Judaism.

“In a world struggling valiantly to recover from economic, environmental and humanitarian crises, our unconditional confidence in these young leaders is a model for decisive social action and sustainable change,” said Helen Diller, president of the sponsoring foundation. “The Tikkun Olam Award is our investment in these five truly exceptional young Californians — we know this recognition will further the work they’ve begun in the spirit of tikkun olam, and create lasting differences to protect and preserve the earth and its people for generations to come.”

Each of the projects awarded required leadership and careful organization in addition to fundraising. Use of the award money is unrestricted, though recipients are encouraged to use the funding for college or to further implement a vision for making the world a better place.

Nominees were required to be California residents, between 13 and 19 years old, and self-identify as Jewish.

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