Learn more about the winning proposals associated with Quality of Life INNOVATIONS.


The 2022 First Place award was presented to Matthew Norris from James Madison High School for “Out of the Closet: Diminishing the Stigma of LGBTQ+ Student Mental Health with GSAs and Transition Closets.” He received $7,000 for his winning proposal. Matthew founded a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) at his high school creating a safe space for LGTBQ+ students to discuss their challenges and providing a learning environment for heterosexual students. With the GSA, he distributed rainbow ribbons in honor of National Coming Out Day to all teachers and students to promote inclusivity and acceptance. Additionally, Matthew created a guide to forming GSAs and a blueprint for gender affirming lending clothing closets at his school, which will benefit students even after he has graduated.

Second Place was a tie between two teams, Ayana Chari, Ava Connor, and Felicia Merino-Ostlund from the Bronx High School of Science for “Safety in Numbers: Improving Student Safety on Public Transportation Using a Buddy System” and John Pierre Alkhoury, Mandy Chen and Christine Zheng from Staten Island Technical High School for “Raising Awareness and Availability of Hygienic Resources.” Each team was awarded $3,000 in college scholarships.

Ayana, Ava, and Felicia presented passionately on the importance of addressing sexual harassment on public transportation, transit that many students rely on daily when commuting to and from school. Their research found that 40% of students travel alone and nearly 50% avoid certain routes due to safety concerns. As a result, they created a Discord server which connected fellow students by commuting routes and times and resulted in several groups taking the subway together and feeling safer while travelling with a buddy.

John, Mandy and Christine delivered a compelling presentation on suppressing the spread of bacteria in school environments. With the guidance of a registered nurse, they developed and distributed informational pamphlets on hygiene practices, such as handwashing. They improved the availability of hygiene resources such as hand sanitizer, soap, and paper towels through a QR code system placed on dispensers that allows students to alert school supply secretaries when and where supplies run out. They also designed antimicrobial portable mats for computers and created a self-sustaining business through purchasing bulk hand sanitizer and selling it at school for a small profit, to incentive regular personal sanitizing and encourage healthy habits in school.


The 2021 First Place Award was presented to Mariella Reynoso, Tara Isabel Lago and Dominika Shkoruta from Staten Island Technical High School for “The Effect of Creative Writing on Teens’ Mood.” They received $10,000 for their winning proposal. Mariella, Tara and Dominika created writing prompts to improve teens’ mental health, boost academic performance, help them succeed in STEM and business careers, contribute to adolescent development, and foster social emotional learning skills. Through testing their prompts, they found a statistically significant difference between the participants’ mood levels before and after completing each of their prompts, and most participants agreed that completing the creative writing prompts helped improve their mood. Staff from the New York Public Library expressed interest in using their prompts in the summer youth program, and the team continues to work to incorporate creative writing into their school’s curriculum. Click here to watch their compelling presentation.  

Second place was presented to Meghan Webber and Aryana Perez from Mount Saint Mary Academy for “Sustainable Fabric Face Masks.” They received $5,000 for their exemplary proposal. Meghan and Aryana translated their passion for sustainable fashion to meet the needs of their peers attending in-person instruction during the Covid-19 pandemic by designing, making, and selling 100% of their face mask inventory, constructed with fabric from thrifted cotton t-shirts. Through mentoring from a professional designer and instructor at the Fashion Institute of Technology and their own research on customer feedback, this team created a truly sustainable, effective, and appealing product. These high school seniors also planned a “passing the torch program” at their school comprised of a president, vice president, monetary team, sewing team, social media team, and selling team to continue their important work after they graduate.

Third place was presented to Olivia Grand, Mia Zaslow and Sabrina Tiger from the Bronx High School of Science for “Increasing Confidence and Safety for Teenage Girls While Traveling in NYC.” They received $2,500 for their winning proposal. Olivia, Mia and Sabrina surveyed over 160 middle and high school students in New York City, and their research found that nearly half of the female respondents did not feel safe traveling alone throughout the city. The team then interviewed both the President and Vice President of PrepareInc., an organization that helps create comprehensive violence prevention programs for all ages, with the aim of identifying the most appropriate learning platform and lesson content. Following these experts’ advice, Olivia, Mia and Sabrina created an online interactive educational video lesson which teaches teens how to use assertive language and build confidence, in order to help interrupt or prevent sexual harassment while traveling alone on public transportation.

Fourth place was awarded to Maftuna Khasanova from James Madison High School for “De-Stress, Fear Less.” She received $1,000 for her proposal. Maftuna’s creative and feasible solution to the challenges Muslim students encounter when attempting to practice their religion during the school day is an interfaith/meditation room, which would offer all students a place to pray, meditate and decompress. Her research showed that an overwhelming majority of students she surveyed, 93.1%, supported the implementation of an interfaith/meditation room at their school, and 74.9% indicated that they would use such a room. Maftuna presented her research to her school’s principal and gained her support for creating this soothing space for students at her school.


The 2020 First Place award was presented to Gary Shteyman, Elizabeth Shvarts, and Amanda Cheng from Staten Island Technical High School for “The Effect of Cybersecurity Education on Students’ Cybersafety Knowledge.” They received $10,000 for their winning proposal. Gary, Elizabeth and Amanda created Cybersecurity lesson plans and seminars benefitting students at their school. They even contacted NYC Secure and the National Cyber Safety Alliance to enhance their cybersecurity games during a Virtual Spirit Week. Click here to watch their presentation.

Second Place was presented to Munisa Ziyadullaeva from the High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology for “Eliminating Childhood Lead Poisoning: A Hope For A Better Future.” Munisa presented passionately on the importance of eliminating childhood lead poisoning. She created a website to raise awareness and collected over 100 signatures to reform Local Law 1 aimed at decreasing lead exposure in Brooklyn. Munisa was awarded $5,000 in scholarship money.

The Third Place Award was presented to Nouraldeen Ibrahim, Jake Li and Jeffrey Lin from Staten Island Technical High School High School for “The Effects of Hallways Changes on Overcrowding in Physical and Virtual Settings.” They delivered a compelling presentation using simulation software to recreate the experience of an overcrowded hallway. Given the impact of COVID-19 and the need for social distancing, they recommended the introduction of columns and directional lanes in hallways to encourage the healthy movement of students in local schools across New York City. The team received $2,500 in scholarship money.


The 2019 First Place award was presented to Elizabeth Vesialou and Winona Liu from Staten Island Technical School for “The Effects of Mindfulness Meditation on Memory and Mood.” They conducted a study that examined the impact of stress on short-term memory and daily mood. The team led four meditation sessions which showed improvement in students’ moods and an increase in memory. Elizabeth and Vesialou developed a portable mediation kit for staff and students and posted mindful quotes on televisions around their school. The group received $10,000 for their winning proposal.

The Second Place award was presented to Xiurong Yu and Wei Zheng from the High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology for “Bridging the Divide: Increasing Parental School Engagement to Improve Student Outcomes.” Their research revealed that 66% of the respondents claimed that they never or rarely participate in their children’s school activities. Yet, parental involvement in education remains a critical part of early childhood education. To solve the issue, Xiurong and Wei developed a resource website, created a raffle prize system, introduced a CareMonkey app as a support system for parents, and proposed a government tax credit based on parent involvement. The pair was awarded $5,000 in scholarship money.

The Third Place award was presented to Jennifer Alva, Chahinaz Bouflah and Jana Pineda from Forest Hills High School for “Helping Students Find Locations and Rooms: Dora, Where’s the map?” The team found that millions of New York City students struggled to find offices and classrooms due to a lack of visual aids. In order to address this issue, they created maps and guides for various schools. The group proposed the widespread adoption of these visual aids to direct students and ease the stress of being lost for other New York City schools. The team received $3,000 in scholarship money.

The Fourth Place award was presented to Mohammed Hossain and Rahat Mazhar from the High School of Telecommunications Arts and Technology for “Your Nutrition Label Is Trying To Tell You Something.” The pair surveyed students and realized that the majority of youth rarely or never read the nutrition labels on food. To combat an increase in unhealthy eating and the rate of child obesity, the group created a website to raise awareness, taught lessons about eating healthy at their school and promoted a week of action for healthy eating with daily public announcements. The team was awarded $1,000 in scholarship money from the United Federation of Teachers.

2018 Winners

The 2018 First Place award was presented to Samantha SaintJour from James Madison High School for “Virtual Care Package.” Samantha’s close friend, Rebecca, had to leave her life behind when she turned 18 and aged out of the foster care system. Seeing that her friend lost financial, emotional, and social support, Samantha created an app and website called Virtual Care that provides foster youth with access to information and resources regarding aging out of the system, as well as an adult mentor. She received $15,000 for her winning proposal.

Two teams tied for the Second Place Award: Pridha Kumar from Townsend Harris High School for “Save a Life: Educating NYC Public High School Students in Basic First Aid Knowledge.” She proposed implementing a first aid training program in all NYC public high schools. She trained 700 students in hands-only CPR, AED use, Heimlich maneuver, bleeding control, and limb immobilization and reached an agreement to integrate the training into the core health curriculum at her school; Jonathan Bar-On, Benjamin Bergerson and Jeffrey Rodriguez from the Bronx High School of Science for “Ending the Stagnation of ESL Education.” The team addressed the need to improve education for English Language Leaners (ELLs) in New York. Using California’s ESL education as a model, the team augmented the NY curriculum Blueprint and are working with experts in the field to present the model to TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) executives. Both groups were awarded $8,000 in scholarship money.

The Third Place award was presented to Omar Elmogazy, Daniel Indictor and Dominick Villamor from Staten Island Technical High School for “Keyboard Design and Risky Postural Behavior when Typing.” The team found that extensive computer usage has been linked to the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) relating to the hands, wrists, and arms. To combat these disorders, they constructed a specialized keyboard to reduce risky posture. They proposed the widespread adoption of the alternative keyboard to improve the posture of users and help them avoid behaviors that may lead to the onset of MSDs. The team split $5,000 in scholarship money.

2017 QLI Winners

2017 Winners

The 2017 First Place award was presented to Tomer Poole-Dayan and Nicholas Tarr from Bronx High School of Science for “Overflowing Litter Baskets.” The pair created a map of litter baskets and their fullness between 10th Street and 22nd Street on five different avenues and found that the average wire basket had a fullness index of 2.41, while the average deluxe garbage can had a fullness index of only 1.91. To address the issue, the students proposed installing more BigBelly solar trash compactors. The pair split $15,000 in scholarship money.

The Second Place award was presented to Daiana Chen and Yerim Lee from Staten Island Technical High School for “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) Awareness.” The team raised awareness of NIHL throughout their school, secured approval for the incorporation of a lesson on NIHL in their school’s health classes and plan to work with their school’s MakerSpace program to construct “Jolene the Mannequin” (a decibel measuring tool), using a manual provided by the organization Dangerous Decibels. The pair were awarded $8,000 in scholarship money.

The Third Place award was presented to Eliseo Nesci from Edward R. Murrow High School for his proposal “Community Health and Waste Management Solutions.” Nesci found that Gravesend Bay has been environmentally exploited over the years and proposed that Southwest Brooklyn be granted a Superfund to ensure its protection and the purification of toxic wastes from the bay’s sediments. He also proposed that the real solution to NYC’s recycling woes lies in increasing incentives for citizens, private businesses and haulers to recycle. He received $6,000 for his winning proposal.

2016 QLI Winners

2016 Winners

The First Place award was presented to Eli Bacher-Chong, a senior at the High School of Telecommunications, Arts, & Technology, for his proposal “Heat It Up: Joining the Fight Against Plastic Bag Pollution with Solar Powered Recycling.” Mr. Bacher-Chong designed a solar oven that converts disposable plastic bags into more durable and sustainable reusable bags. He received $15,000 in scholarship money to attend the University of Vermont.

The Second Place award was presented to Kemal Aziz and Jakub Goclon, sophomores at Staten Island Technical High School, for their proposal “Reducing Human Exposure to PM2.5.” The pair developed an air filter to reduce exposure to PM2.5 and were awarded $8,000 in scholarship money. They also received the Implementation Award and earned an additional $2,500 in scholarship money.

The Third Place award was presented to Olesya Burmistrova, a senior at James Madison High School, for her proposal “Out of the darkness: Ending the Stigma of Mental Illness.” Ms. Burmistrova proposed holding informative presentations for students given by representatives from the National Alliance of Mental Illnesses. She received $6,000 for her winning proposal to attend Queens College-CUNY.

2015 Winners

The First Place award was presented to Hafsa Khan, a senior from Townsend Harris High School in Queens, NY for her research project “Reducing Food Waste in NYC Public Schools through the Implementation of Composting Programs.” Through the Saving Planet Earth Club at Townsend Harris High School, Hafsa plans to run a composting program to reduce the amount of food waste that makes up landfills as a pilot program in her high school that will ultimately expand to other high schools in NYC.

Tied for second place, were Sophie Shnaidman and Natalie Williams from Staten Island Technical High School in Staten Island, NY and Sapphire Brown from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, NY.

Sophie and Natalie’s proposal, “HPV and Chlamydia: An Assessment of High School Student Awareness and Need for Curriculum Supplement in the Health Curriculum,” tackled the issue of awareness of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Chlamydia in their high school. They proposed raising awareness about these diseases within their high school and implementing a long-term HPV and Chlamydia supplement to the existing health curriculum as a means of ultimately reducing the risks associated with sexual intercourse.

Sapphire’s proposal, “Ladies of Substance: Building the Confidence of Future Women,” addressed the problem of low self-esteem in young girls and proposed an after-school club that provides a safe-haven for girls to express themselves openly and where they will not be judged.

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