DANVILLE -- Kyle Weiss was nervously prepping for an interview with the World of Children Award founders when instead they surprised him with the news: he had already been selected for this year's Youth Award.

"I was completely shocked," said Weiss, 19. "Obviously, it's a very big award, so it's huge for our organization."

The Claremont McKenna College sophomore was chosen for his work with FUNDaFIELD, an organization the Danville teen cofounded at age 13 with his older brother Garrett to build soccer fields in Africa. He now runs it as its volunteer executive director.

The World of Children Awards, considered the "Nobel Prize for Child Advocates" was founded by Pleasanton residents Harry Leibowitz and Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz 15 years ago. Since its inception, the organization has granted more than $5 million to nearly 100 honorees worldwide.

Weiss was one of four people selected among 850 nominees from 71 countries and underwent a rigorous vetting process by a large international committee.

"He's a young man who has made a difference and really works hard to make a difference," Kay Isaacson-Leibowitz said.

He will accept the honor Oct. 25 in New York.

Harry Leibowitz said Weiss' program impressed the committee for many reasons, including the idea FUNDaFIELD builds near schools as a motivational tool for students to become educated.


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FUNDaFIELD counts fields built in South Africa, Uganda and Kenya among its accomplishments and is operated by a slew of volunteers, many of whom are still in high school, including Weiss' sister Kira.

"He's not just helping young people across the globe, he's involving young people at home," Harry Leibowitz said. "To me, that's just as important."

The FUNDaFIELD nonprofit's fundraising efforts -- more than $173,000 has been raised -- include everything from bake sales and car washes to selling paper-bead jewelry that FUNDaFIELD hired women in Uganda to make.

In June, the group held a soccer tournament in Uganda where more than 2,000 spectators watched eight teams play on fields built in prior years.

"It showed me how much of an impact our little organization has had in Uganda and showed me how important soccer was to these kids," said Hailey Hunter, a 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School student and FUNDaFIELD manager. "It was awesome."

In August, the organization also held a game stateside featuring young celebrities at the University of Southern California in collaboration with Toy Box of Hope called "Chance to Play." "We're hoping to do that every year and make that into our annual huge fundraiser," Weiss said.

The $35,000 grant FUNDaFIELD will receive from the World of Children Award is earmarked to fulfill its refocused efforts to provide the therapeutic athletic outlet in earthquake-devastated Haiti and war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo.

"A lot of the money is going to help us branch out to these new places," said Leah de la Pena, a FUNDaFIELD manager and 17-year-old San Ramon Valley High School student.

The World of Children award -- the largest single grant FUNDaFIELD has received, and the largest youth award grant World of Children has bestowed -- will also enable the organization to hire a part-time staff member and update its Website, Weiss said.

The World of Children Award is one of many honors Weiss and FUNDaFIELD have received over the past few years.

Weiss was featured on 2011 Nickelodeon's "Halo Awards" where he met David Beckham. The video segment raised the national profile of FUNDaFIELD, Weiss said, and his staff fields weekly inquiries from children looking to either assist the organization or to tell them how it inspired them to begin their own charitable work.

Weiss' other honors include being named one of Youth Services America's 25 Most Powerful and Influential Young People in the World, and is a Build-A-Bear Workshop Huggable Hero and a Diller Teen "Tikkun Olam" Award recipient.

FUNDafield
For more information, visit www.fundafield.org