2020 - TENNESSEE (NASHVILLE REGION)
Alora Young is a junior at Hillsboro High School in Nashville, Tennessee. Alora is the founder of AboveGround, an organization that strives to increase the accessibility of advanced academics to students of color through creative writing. Alora noticed a glaring discrepancy in the number of students of color who attended Hillsboro in relation to the number of students in advanced placement courses, and that this problem began as early as elementary school with an advanced placement course called "Encore." AboveGround introduced children of color at Eakin Elementary School, who did not participate in the Encore course, to creative writing in order to develop a love of art and encourage higher-level thinking and a drive towards advanced academics. Each week the students would participate in a writing prompt, read a book featuring a main character of color, and hear about an "artist spotlight" introducing a successful artist of color. Furthermore, she led a creative writing workshop for high school underclassmen with a similar function. Alora has personally worked with over 20 students in her AboveGround program and released a literary magazine featuring a compilation of their works that reached many more. She has seen children with no passion for writing become amazed by poetry, and has seen these children grow and prosper as students in this program. She strives to expand the program's effects to every elementary school in Metro Nashville Public Schools. Outside of school, Alora serves as Nashville's youth poet laureate, spreading activism through creative writing in Davidson County.