Sascha Pakravan

Sascha  Pakravan

Sascha Pakravan is a student at Punahou School, Hawaii, and will soon attend Harvard University to study Sociology and Political Science. Concerned by the low literacy rates throughout Hawaii compared to the rest of the US, Sascha took action by founding the non-profit organization Words4, which seeks to bolster literacy rates in Hawaii and actualize educational equity across the socioeconomic spectrum. Creating 76 professional reading videos himself, today Words4 has over 100,000 digital views, 2,000 unique viewers, 1,000 returning students, 6 partner schools, and 26 specialists. He has also expanded Words4 to offer a reading-buddy program where high schoolers mentor elementary students, recruiting nineteen highschoolers state-wide to serve Hawaii’s most in-need students, including those requiring ESL and special-ed scaffolding.

This past year, Words4 raised $33,000 through independent fundraising and recognition from the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes, Google Ad Grants, and the Steve and Jean Case Foundation. Sascha has now enrolled Words4 in UH's "Hacking 4 Recovery" (H4R) program, led by Stanford Professor and Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Steve Blank, which teaches lean startup methodologies and how to scale and expand a pre-existing business.

Sascha is also founder and President of CareerAll, which has the mission to empower high school students with the knowledge and information required to choose their field of work. Being part of the large community of Punahou with almost 4,000 students, Sascha always wondered where his classmates would be after they graduate in terms of careers. This question inspired him to perform a survey of over 120 students from different grades, discovering that approximately half had no definitive goals, passions for specific jobs, or ideas of careers they would pursue after high school. This was staggering to Sascha, inspiring him to start CareerAll.

At school, he worked with the Academy English Department and faculty to create a club called The Literary Seminar which aimed to cultivate students’ inner passion for reading, literature, and the English language. The weekly meetings allowed for productive and comprehensive discussion regarding different genres of rich literature not covered by grade-level English courses. The club then became a credit-bearing academic course, successfully running for two years so far. Today, he also leads his school’s Urban Plan Club to analyze solutions for homelessness, and draw on knowledge and interaction with public policy leaders to pursue solutions for a more literate Hawaii. Outside the classroom, Sascha is active in contributing to local politics and public policy, first as Senator at Boys State California and later as an intern with the Hawaii Attorney General.

If Sascha were to win the Global Student Prize, he would dedicate the funds to expanding Words4 globally given that, according to UNESCO, 773 million youth and adults still cannot read and write and 250 million children are failing to acquire basic literacy skills.