ALAMO, RGV – Two Rio Grande Valley residents have been honored as “ young change-makers” by the Marguerite Casey Foundation in Seattle.

Samantha Trujillo, aged 22, and Andrea Guzman, 19, received the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty Leadership Award. They were joined by 18 other young adults from across the country.

The 20 awardees were honored for being young leaders dedicated to improving the lives of families in their community. They each receive $5,000.

“Each of the 20 Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors is recognized for their resolve and courage in standing up for those who are so often neglected and forgotten: the homeless, immigrant families, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and students and youth, among others. They are also outspoken about youth civic engagement, environmental justice advocacy, organizing for immigrant and undocumented communities, reforming juvenile justice, education & healthcare systems, and more,” the Marguerite Casey Foundation said in a statement.

Both of the two awardees from the Valley were nominated by RGV Equal Voice Network. Here are their biographies:

Samantha Trujillo, 22

Samantha Trujillo has been an active participant in Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network and La Union del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) since she was a child, following in the footsteps of family members that organized to educate and engage members of her community in Alamo, Texas. Samantha is passionate about engaging youth to change their communities, aligning with LUPE’s broader purpose to advocate for border residents to create lasting social change. Samantha’s personal interests lie in engaging her community to increase low-income Latino youth civic engagement and voter turnout and identifying the obstacles to voting in local colonias. Samantha aspires to continue following in her family’s footsteps by serving her community and engaging her peers.

Andrea Guzman, 19

Andrea Guzman has been involved with ARISE and Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network since an early age, and her dedication to serving her community has grown over that time. She’s participated in civic engagement and environmental justice movements and volunteers as a tutor at the ARISE after-school program. Andrea is passionate about capturing oral histories, and her proposed project aims to celebrate the rich cultural narratives of the region’s elders by sharing them with younger generations. As a youth leader, her understanding of the experiences of immigrants will help transform what advocacy and support for the immigrant community looks like. Andrea will use her award funds to continue her project collecting and sharing oral histories, which she hopes will inspire a deeper understanding, pride, and respect of her Mexican culture. She also has plans to become a social worker after graduating from University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley.

This is the eighth year that Marguerite Casey Foundation has presented the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty awards. Each of the recipients receive an award of $5,000 in recognition of their leadership. Named for Sargent Shriver, architect of the War on Poverty and visionary leader of Head Start, Peace Corps, Job Corps and VISTA, Shriver worked throughout his life to provide opportunities for people to lift themselves out of poverty.

“This year’s Youth Warriors prove to us all that you can make a difference in your community at any age,” said Luz Vega-Marquis, CEO and President of Marguerite Casey Foundation. “We are so inspired by these organizers and their willingness to make changes in the areas that affect them and their families personally. These are young people who come from what are sometimes difficult circumstances and bloom into active leaders in their community, helping to reshape those communities and our society overall. We’re so proud to see the legacy of Sargent Shriver continue on in each of them.”

This year’s winners of the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty Leadership Award are:

  • Amina Henderson, 21 – Chicago
  • James Collins, 22 – Chicago
  • Lizbeth Labra Munoz, 18 – Baltimore
  • Quincy Walker, 17 – Albuquerque 
  • Stephen Bruce, 21 – Chicago
  • Lydia Williams, 17 – Montgomery, Alab.
  • Hunter Malone, 22 – Berea, Kentucky
  • Karnesha Terry, 23 – Tunicia, Missisissipi
  • Marion Smith III, 18 – Parkin, Arkansas
  • Rita Castañon, 21 – Morristown, Tennessee
  • Alicia Ferrer, 17 – El Paso, Texas
  • Andrea Guzman, 19 – Rio Grande Valley, Texas
  • Samantha Trujillo, 22 – Rio Grande Valley, Texas
  • Holly Xiao Lin, 20 – San Francisco, California
  • Julia Allen, 15 – Oakland, California
  • Nouchee “Sunshine” Moua, 20 – Fresno, California
  • Stephanie Mendiola, 17 – Los Angeles, California
  • Thang Q. Diep, 22 – Los Angeles, California
  • Ignacio Valverde, 23 – San Diego, California
  • Sarah Farouq, 21 – San Diego, California

More than 100 young people have been awarded the Sargent Shriver Youth Warriors Against Poverty Leadership Award since Marguerite Casey Foundation began the award program in 2012. Marguerite Casey Foundation regularly engages this network of youth leaders and provides continuing development; a 2018 awardee, Deveraux Smith, who created the Kids Eat Free program, will be named to the Foundation’s board as winner of the Pat Schroeder Board Fellowship.

Marguerite Casey Foundation nurtures a national movement of low-income families advocating on their own behalf for change. The nonprofit says it invests in grassroots activism that “builds the power and voice of families living in poverty to create their own solutions for a more just and equitable society for all.” The group’s grant-making provides multi-year general support in four regions – the South, Southwest, Midwest, and West – as well as nationally.