ACT Award 


The Caltech Y created the Advocating Change Together (ACT) Award to challenge students to be engaged citizens of the world, providing motivated Caltech students with an opportunity to learn about themselves and their place in society, and to impact the world through community engagement, activism, and leadership.



The goals of the Caltech Y ACT Award are to increase awareness and promote civic engagement and leadership development by:

  • encouraging activists to identify and explore an issue or cause of local, national, or global significance, and

  • empowering activists to get educated and engaged in the cause through trainings, workshops, conferences, and/or an immersion experience (learning from an established organization or volunteering beside experienced activists).

The ACT Award offers an opportunity to explore a cause and to make a difference.  Activists determine what cause to address, and the mentor, organization, conference or trainers to learn from. The Award has been created to help Caltech students expand their understanding of the world and to unleash them to change the world for the better as active citizens.  It is an opportunity to act!



ACT Application Guidelines


Applications and proposal budgets are due no later than 12:00 noon on Friday, April 8th.  Applications should be submitted electronically to


The Caltech Y is here to help you! You are encouraged to stop by with any questions during the application process. Staff will gladly provide guidance to help you develop your application and explore preparation efforts.


Contact Information: All Y staff can be reached at 626-395-6163


Greg Fletcher,
Liz Jackman,

Past act Awardee projects  


Anna Helena de Oliveira Lobo

Anna was concerned about how STEM fields are stifled by underrepresentation of women and how society will continue to miss out on many of the advances these women could make.  She saw how - due to stereotypes and biases at home, school, and in everyday life - girls around the world are discouraged from pursuing these fields and proposed working with a professor and the Parana Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology (IFPR) on a summer Calculus program for girls in Brazil.  



Damien Berube 

Damien was interested in exploring the opportunities and challenges - technical and societal - of nuclear energy as a potential solution to the looming global energy crisis.  He attended the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) Introductory Course on Nuclear Nonproliferation and Safeguards in Richland, WA that was taught by experts in the field and supplemented with tours and exercises at fuel cycle facilities and the Hazardous Materials Management and Emergency Response (HAMMER) Federal Training Center.

Sarah Sam

Concerned about the numerous economic and cultural barriers that prevent high-achieving underrepresented minority students from entering Caltech and the larger scientific community, Sarah proposed to work with PUSD educators to create a scholarship opportunity and take high school students to the annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) in Anaheim.  She also sought to gain direct organizing experience with regards to STEM education and the inequalities and power structures that serve to marginalize particular groups of students.


Sirisha Gudavalli

Sirisha will be exploring healthcare (both in practice and in education) and its interaction with sustainable development in Kenya. By participating in ME to WE’s Kenya: The Power of Healthcare Trip she will learn about healthcare from the political side (through learning about various healthcare systems and how they contribute to sustainable development) and from the medical side (through shadowing physicians and observing health clinics), and will be able to volunteer and put her current knowledge in medicine and biology to work. 



Stephanie Kong 

Stephanie is interested in atmospheric chemistry and physics and with this award she will be attending conferences to help her learn how the science that she has been doing can have a true impact on the society. She will attend The Global Climate Action Summit and the Climate Week NYC and is planning to work closely with the SEPAC (Science & Engineering Policy at Caltech) group and Caltech Y to present on how students can promote their scientific work outside academia and how to get involved in policy makings that are related to climate, energy and environment. READ MORE about her experience. 


Yu Su and Jinglin Huang

The first partner ACT team, Yu Su and Jinglin Huang, travelled to China where they visited communities tackling affordable and sustainable housing with varying levels of success. 


Phillip An

Phillip worked in Ghana for four weeks with the NGO Volunteer Partnerships for West Africa (VPWA), helping in microfinance. The VPWA office provides vulnerable local individuals and groups with small loans and training to give them the skills and financial help needed to start a business. After his participation on VPWA, Phillip undertook several initiatives on campus to raise awareness in microfinance. These included a series of lectures from local experts and lunch talks with social entrepreneurs who have benefited from it. 


Katherine Guo

Katherine travelled to Ilam, Nepal to help with the construction of a spring slow-sand water filter, which provided clean drinking water for 40 families in the community. This project was coordinated by Engineers Without Borders in partnership with the Namsaling Community Development Center (NCDC). As part of her collaboration, she obtained sponsorship for chlorine tablets to bring to the local schools in the Ilam community to help sanitize their water storage tanks. Katherine’s plan to raise awareness on campus was to run an informational table outside of Chandler Cafe and give informal talks on the current water situation in Nepal.



Amanda Shing 

Amanda was passionate about sustainable living and with her ACT Award, she attended training and workshop sessions to learn about solutions and alternatives through local L.A. area organizations (L.A. Eco-Village, Growing Club, Urban Homestead, Cal Recycle, and California Center for Sustainable Energy).  She shared her new knowledge with the Caltech community by putting together a sustainable living seminar series, and a course on campus with topics around renewable energy, food, water, and waste/recycling.