Mari CopenyFlint, MI Award Year: 2022
Mari Copeny is a teenage activist from Flint, Michigan who is globally known as Little Miss Flint. She first entered the public spotlight when her letter to President Obama about the water crisis prompted him to visit the city and survey the water crisis for himself. That visit ultimately led to him approving $100 million dollars in relief for the City of Flint. Copeny has used her platform to not only bring awareness to the water crisis in her community but to also give back. She has raised over $600,000 for her Flint Kids projects, which provided 17,000 children with backpacks and school supplies, gifted Christmas presents and Easter baskets and organized movie screenings. She also began a book project, where she gets books by authors of color into the hands of local children. She takes the most pride in pivoting away from single-use bottled water to partnering with Hydroviv, to produce her very own water filter, which is shipped across the country to those facing toxic drinking water. She sits on several boards, such as the Flint Youth Justice League, the MDE Anti-Racism Student Advisory Council and in 2019 she sat as chairwoman of Kid Box board of directors. In 2017, Copeny became a national youth ambassador to the Women’s March on Washington and the National Climate March. Currently, she works with the anti-bullying group Trendsetters Productions and We Vote Next, a youth organization that is designed to empower the younger demographic to speak their truth, get active and vote.