Date: Wednesday March 11, 2020, 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location: The Drake Hotel | 140 E. Walton Pl., Chicago, IL 60611

True inspiration was on full display this winter at Blood Science Foundation’s second annual NextUp Awards, held on March 11, 2020, at The Drake Hotel in Chicago. Parents, teachers, foundation stakeholders and community members gathered for the dinner and awards ceremony to recognize Chicago’s youngest philanthropists.

Sponsored by Blood Science Foundation and launched in 2019, the NextUp Awards provides monetary awards to deserving young people across Chicagoland who have shown a transformative commitment to their communities – through fundraising, the development of charitable programs, volunteering, leadership and philanthropy.

“If this year’s crop of finalists and winners are any indication, our future is in good hands,” said Mark Giaquinto, president and CFO of Blood Science Foundation. “These young people have already learned a valuable lesson at a very young age: Helping their neighbors and their community can generate immense satisfaction and fulfillment, and it can serve as the catalyst for positive change.”

A committee appointed by Blood Science Foundation chose ten finalists from students who were nominated throughout the area. This year, we were thrilled to receive twice the number of nominations from last year. Competing in three separate age groups, the ten finalists attended the dinner to learn if they had been selected as the winner.

This year’s winners are well on their way to making a difference:

  • Alexandrine Harig (12 and under winner) wants people across the globe to have better access to clean water. She was recognized by Water for Life as its first Youth Humanitarian Award winner for her efforts, which included organizing a successful charity day at her school. To date, Alexandrine has raised funds to supply 126 million gallons of water to those in need.
  • Jacob Canvin (13 to 15 winner), founder of Jacob’s Toy Drive, learned that volunteering in his community can bring smiles to the faces of young kids. Fueled by this, Jacob first collected toys for less fortunate children in his neighborhood who might not otherwise have received a holiday gift. Jacob recently organized a basketball tournament and toy drive that netted 100 toys for his community.
  • Perry Harig (16 to 18 winner), founder of the Sandwich Squad, believes that no one in his community should go hungry. He started by baking homemade goods to be served at Catholic Charities dinners for the poor. With the help of friends, the Sandwich Squad now packs 60 brown bag lunches that are delivered to Catholic Charities every week during the summer.

“What these young people have done is awe-inspiring,” said Sunny Chico, Vitalant and Blood Science Foundation board member. “Whether they were focusing attention on a problem half-way across the globe or working to do something meaningful right in their backyard, they applied their time and talents to make it happen. We’re proud to highlight their accomplishments and to help them open their next chapter in life.”

The three winners each received a $2,500 monetary award from the Blood Science Foundation to further their education or to invest in their philanthropic programs. All other finalists received a $500 award for the same purpose.

“Choosing the finalists and the winners was no easy task,” added Sunny, also Chairperson of the NextUp Awards Selection Committee.

“We continue to marvel at the inventiveness and dedication of Chicagoland’s young people. And there is no doubt that this year’s finalists and winners are destined for great things.”

Proceeds from The NextUp Awards support Vitalant’s High School Scholarship Program for Chicagoland schools that host blood drives.

Thank You

We would like to thank our sponsors and supporters at all levels:

Diamond Sponsor

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

Item Donors

Adler Planetarium, Chicago Bears, Chicago Cubs, Chicago Pizza Tours, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, James “Jimbo” Covert, Few Spirits Distillery, Field Museum, Five Roses Pub, Alexandrine Harig, Laugh Factory, Lettuce Entertain You, Lynfred Winery, O’Hare-Midway Limousine Service, Pinot’s Palette, Ravinia Festival, Skydeck Chicago, Matthew Suhey, The Drake Hotel, The iO Theater, The Rose Hotel, The Second City, Underground Donut Tour, Zanie’s Comedy Night Club

Thank you again to the individuals, businesses and organizations that came together to support:

A Special Thanks to:

The Lyons Township High School Steppers with their performance of “Cinderella.”
Click the photos below to view videos of their performance!