2019 – ALABAMA
Mei Mei Sun is a senior at Vestavia Hills High School in Birmingham. Growing up in Birmingham, she has been acutely aware of the neo-segregation that plagues the Magic City. Living in a state with such a conspicuous struggle with freedom and equity has driven her desire to actively take charge to improve the lives of those around her — Mei Mei founded Books4Bham (books4bham.org), a youth-driven, grassroots initiative to promote educational equity in Birmingham by aiding the donation of test-prep materials and children’s literature to inner-city schools and libraries. Over the past three years, the organization has grown exponentially, implementing chapters and cultivating relationships at 17 local schools, churches, and libraries to directly impact over 6,000 students, saving families a combined total of 100,000 dollars in book costs. Mei Mei's school has been extremely supportive of Books4Bham, which has been recognized by the US House of Representatives, Vestavia Hills City Council, Jefferson County Commission, and the GirlSpring Foundation. Outside of Books4Bham, Mei Mei actively participates in Lincoln-Douglas debate, of which she is the 2018 Alabama State Champion. She has also received the Gold Award in literary nonfiction for the American Southeast from Scholastic Magazine and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Unity from the Birmingham City Council for her essay on racial inequality.