Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Promotes “Chain Reaction” of Kindness in Schools

Partners with Rachel's Challenge Helping Schools Become Safer, More Connected


PRESS RELEASE from Miss American Outstanding Teen

Tampa, FL, Feb 21, 2017 – The organization that honors Rachel Joy Scott, the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting, is partnering with Miss America’s Outstanding Teen (MAOTeen) to promote kindness, hope and a positive climate in K-12 schools.

“We are thrilled about our partnership with Miss America’s Outstanding Teen,” said Rob Unger, CEO of Rachel’s Challenge, the non-profit organization founded in Rachel’s name to encourage kindness in schools. “This is a movement to shine light on Rachel’s story and most importantly the power of reaching out and being kind to those around you.”

In the newly released video produced by Rachel’s Challenge, reigning Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Nicole Jia reveals her story of exclusion and isolation bullying, including on social media, when she switched schools during her freshman year. She shared the emotional story with teens from the Chickasaw Nation Chickasha Pehlichi Ikbi Youth Leadership Program in Ada, Oklahoma during a kickoff event with Rachel’s Challenge.

“I am incredibly inspired by Rachel, who dedicated herself to being kind and accepting of other students at Columbine High School before the tragic events that took her life,” says Jia. “160,000 students skip school every day for fear of being bullied. Working together, we can help to create supportive communities both in schools and online that are united for kindness, acceptance and inclusion.”

Since being named MAOTeen in August, Jia has worked to increase awareness that ignoring or isolating peers is a silent form of bullying. She is leading MAOTeen’s #BeSelfless campaign, which challenges kids to post fewer selfies and share more selfless acts of kindness and authenticity on social media. The #BeSelfless campaign has built momentum over the past year through partnerships with anti-bullying organizations, teen therapists and social media responsibility advocates.

About Miss America's Outstanding Teen:

One of the nation's leading achievement programs, the Miss America's Outstanding Teen organization encourages positive achievement by helping to nurture and build the scholastic achievement, creative accomplishment, healthy living and community involvement of our nation's youth. In the past decade, MAOTeen has paid out nearly $1 million in cash scholarships to more than 200 colleges and universities, while developing mentoring programs and community-based initiatives across the country. MAOTeen has a long-standing relationship with Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, raising more than $100,000 this year to help improve the lives of children nationwide. Additional information about the Miss America's Outstanding Teen organization can be found at www.maoteen.org

About Rachel’s Challenge:

For us it started when Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999. But that was only the beginning of the story. In the seventeen years since we lost Rachel, and twelve other innocent lives, her legacy has touched over 24 million people in live settings and is the foundation for creating a positive culture in K-12 schools. Her vision to start a chain reaction of kindness and compassion is the basis for our mission: Awakening individual transformation and promoting safer, more connected schools. And it works!

Rachel’s Challenge programs provide a sustainable, evidence-based, evidence-driven framework for positive climate and culture in our schools. Partner schools achieve statistically significant gains in five key culture metrics: community engagement, faculty/student relationships, leadership potential, and school climate; along with reductions in bullying and violence.