Peyton Klein

2019 – PENNSYLVANIA (PITTSBURGH REGION)

Peyton Klein is a junior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh and the founder of Global Minds Initiative, a student-led, international movement to combat cultural intolerance and discrimination in schools. Global Minds was founded after Peyton met her classmate Khwala. Because Khwala wore a hijab and sat quietly, Peyton assumed she didn't speak English. As they began to talk with each other, however, Peyton learned about the dehumanizing intolerance Khwala faced as a Syrian refugee, and her perspective changed. Through Global Minds, Peyton hopes to create opportunities for all students to build friendships with people from other cultures. Global Minds is an after school program that bridges English-as-a-Second-Language (ESL) and Native English Speaking (NES) students. In these inclusive and safe spaces, students are able to challenge frameworks of oppression and understand systems that threaten human rights. NES students gain a greater understanding of challenges immigrant students face, while reflecting on their own privilege in inequitable, marginalized communities. Conversation leads to team-driven brainstorming for substantive actions. Since 2016, Global Minds has expanded into 23 schools and two countries, impacting over 1,500 students. Peyton is a TEDx speaker, the recipient of the 2017 YWCA Racial Justice Award in Youth Achievement, Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, and the Coro Innovation Leadership Award. Her work has been featured on the Today Show, Fox News, in Teen Vogue, and the New York Times.