Malcolm Asher: Embodying the (Prudential) Spirit of Community

By Mia Johnson, Reporter



Malcolm Asher has done it again. Around Cleveland, Asher is well known for his aspirations and commitment to service, and on April 28 he will be recognized on a national level for his achievements in Washington DC.

In March, the junior learned that he had received a national award and scholarship he applied to on a whim: “The Prudential Spirit of Community Award,” the largest youth recognition program based on community service in the country.  Since the program was established in 1995, more than 120,000 young people have been recognized for their work.

One high school and one middle school student are chosen every year from each state out of applicants. Winners receive a $1000 scholarship and attend a national conference for recognition in Washington DC. Students must show outstanding service towards others at the local, state, and national level to be eligible for the award.

Asher applied on the recommendation of his mentor, who won two years ago. He wrote four essays about the work he has done, and got a recommendation from Principal Ayesha Freeman. The award “embodies people who are making a difference and helping others to contribute to their communities,” something Asher has proved to be more than proficient in.

Principal Freeman said of Asher, “Whenever a young person demonstrates this ability and determination to make the world a better place, I want to 100 percent support that. I believe Malcolm is more than qualified for this award, he is completely deserving. The maturity, the growth, the intellect and the heart are amazing things we see as kids move through the four years of high school and traits that Asher definitely possesses.”

So what exactly has he done to deserve the title of “top volunteer of Oregon?”

Asher has devoted a huge part of his life for the past two years working on creating and promoting his very own non-profit called Art Pass, a “youth-led international non-profit that is seeking to change how kids perceive and experience the hospital. I first started the organization in 2016,” he described.

Asher has always been interested in pursuing the medical field as well as helping kids in his community. He realized hospitalization for children is a big deal and something that has a lot of unnecessary stigmatization, and as a kid himself, he started thinking of ways he could realistically change this. He said, “5.4 million kids die every year from preventable diseases, additionally on average the hospital is one of four of kids’ biggest fears. This sometimes leads to kids not seeking medical attention when they need it. So, we are using art as a vessel to eradicate the stigma around hospitalization and to reduce isolation and fear.”

Asher’s non-profit has grown much quicker and farther than anyone could have initially expected. How many high school students can say they are the CEO of an international non-profit? “We’ve registered 24 chapters across four continents and reached almost 2000 kids so far,” Asher said.

By networking with other students who are seeking similar futures, and traveling to Ghana to learn about the hospital system and volunteer, Asher has created a great platform to expand upon. He said, “My goal is for us to reach 10,000 kids by the end of 2018.”

In the four days Asher will be in Washington D.C. in April, he will have the opportunity to meet other students from across the country who are making a difference, hear a national well-known speaker, attend an awards ceremony and tour the Capitol. Ten winners over all will be chosen for the Prudential Spirit of Community and our money’s on Malcolm Asher.