Elias Rosenthal, 18, of Santa Rosa’s Teens4Biz and Teens4Health wins one of North Bay Business Journal’s Nonprofit Leadership Awards.
Describe your organization
Teens4Health.org wakes up teens that we’re drowning in a sea of sugar and processed foods. They learn the American diet — now a global diet — is fueling the growing epidemics of obesity and diabetes. Through contests, fun projects and social media, we try to motivate teens to educate their friends and families.
While running Teens4Health, I realized many teens can’t communicate without a screen. Few teens have basic business skills, from learning differences between credit and debit cards, savings and checking accounts, and blue and white-collar careers. Teens4Biz connects teens with volunteer mentors, field trips and our online resources. They learn practical skills, from time-management to public speaking to applying for a job.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I’m a senior at Maria Carrillo High School in Santa Rosa, overly busy applying to colleges. I’m interested in studying health sciences and business.
What is your role in the organization?
Building and growing two complementary teen organizations: Teens4Biz.org and Teens4Health.org. We have adult and teen boards. Expanding both organizations’ teen-outreach. Connecting more teens with financial literacy and health and fitness resources. Expanding our outreach to younger teens. Arranging mentors and speakers on health to financial literacy to public speaking.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Building and growing two complementary all-volunteer organizations: Teens4Biz.org and Teens4Health.org beyond Santa Rosa. I’m discovering the power of publicity. I’ve been interviewed for news articles and Bay Area TV. Over 6,000 international followers receive our educational posts on our two Facebook and two Twitter accounts. We reach diverse teens from the U.S. to China to Mexico: dreamers and innovators, underprivileged and privileged, shy and spirited.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Applying to colleges. How it can be affordable, because we’re four college-age teens.
What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon?
Expanding both Teens4Biz.org and Teens4Health.org outreach to Spanish-speaking and Native American youth, who have our highest obesity and diabetes rates. Teaching more teens to recognize deceptive food labels, misleading menus, and manipulative marketing messages.
What product or service is helping you do your job more effectively?: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube
Most admired businessperson outside your organization: My amazing 93-year-old grandfather who lives in Santa Rosa. A rocket industry pioneer and inventor, he knew Albert Einstein. He told me, “You can get only one of two answers, either yes or no, but you can’t get either unless you ask” and “Failure can be a detour in disguise.”
Current reading: “The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains” by my mentor, Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at University of California, San Francisco.
Most want to meet: Ben Franklin. I love his leadership advice: “Tell me, and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn.”
Stress-relievers: Healthful cooking and learning magic tricks.
Social media you most use: Facebook and Twitter
Favorite hobbies: Playing any sport with a ball. Cooking healthy, tasty, super easy meals