While at Aragon High School in San Mateo, Jason Bade came up with an idea to make his school district one of the greenest in the nation.
"I was a sophomore in high school and I noticed that the recycling in school wasn't that great and there weren't any solar panels. I had this crazy idea to do solar," he said.
He lobbied the school board and today he's a sophomore at Stanford and the San Mateo Union High School district will begin installing solar panels at six high schools next month.
That achievement won him the teen "Tikkun Olam" Award given by the Helen Diller Family Foundation. The award comes with a $36,000 check.
Tikkun Olam is a Hebrew expression that means "repair the world." The recipients can use the money toward their education or to further develop their projects.
Kyle Weiss is a senior at Montevista High School in Danville. He was 13 when he realized the need for soccer fields in poverty-stricken African countries.
"It brings happiness, it brings communities together, especially in Africa where everyone is divided. It brings them together and brings kids so much joy," he said.
His project is called "Fundafield." He's helped build seven soccer fields in Uganda, Kenya, Swaziland and South Africa.
Weiss will use the award money to expand the project. These are the kinds of students that the top universities are looking for.
"You don't summarize the student in two or three numbers, you have to look at the whole person and that is what we are doing and these are the kind of young people we want to attract to the University of California," UC President Mark Yudof said.
There were five winners among nearly 200 applicants.
"It is really her vision, that she wanted to say yes to these teens and let them know that in a world that so many people say no to teens, she is saying yes and she is saying that they actually do have the power to make change," Nicole Miller from Diller Teen Initiatives said.