By Brian Park
Carter Jimenez Jenkins is not your average high school sophomore.
Jimenez Jenkins, a student at JSerra Catholic High School, is the founder of Students For Safe Water, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing potable water sources and waste water systems to developing countries.
Since the organization was founded in 2010, Jimenez Jenkins has employed the help of his family, friends, local students and businesses to raise more than $34,000 for safe water systems around the world. The organization recently raised $5,000 to donate a well to a village in Honduras and this year, Jimenez Jenkins traveled to Nicaragua to help install 22 “double-pit” latrines in the village of Petaquilla.
Jimenez Jenkins was inspired to start the organization as an eighth-grader after stumbling upon a YouTube video of children drinking contaminated water in third-world nations.
“It really just touched my heart and I felt like I had to do something, so I started researching it,” Jimenez Jenkins said.
The organization began with small charitable events like garage sales and collection drives, but it has grown quickly since Jimenez Jenkins began reaching out to local high school students for assistance. His mother, Jeffrie Jimenez Jenkins, has also helped by registering Students For Safe Water as a nonprofit and by reaching out to businesses. This year, the organization expects to receive a $20,000 matching donation from Pepsi.
“I’ve never done anything like this either,” Jeffrie Jimenez Jenkins said. “But once we got one (donation), it got easier to get the next one. It kind of just snowballed.”
On Saturday, September 15, Carter Jimenez Jenkins will be a guest speaker at the TEDx youth conference in Redmond, Wash. to talk about Students For Safe Water. From there, he and his mother will travel to Philadelphia, for an unrelated cause, to accept a $1,000 scholarship for his winning submission in the 2012 American National Tree essay contest. His essay about former First Lady Betty Ford will be permanently added to the Constitution Center’s popular exhibit, “The Story of We the People.”
As far as what the future holds, Jimenez Jenkins hopes to make philanthropy a permanent part of his life.
“My personal goal is to become an entrepreneur and have my own social enterprise business,” Jimenez Jenkins said.
“He’s only 15 and he’s got the same problems as any 15-year-old,” Jeffrie Jimenez Jenkins added. “I hope that he’ll continue if it’s something that he wants to do. He has a really good heart.”