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AVUS Connect Recognized as AFP 2023 Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Recipient

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Headshot of AVUS Connect Founder, Shawn Martinez

Natalie Paskoski, Manager of Content, (434) 236 – 5583,

(Arlington, Virginia) The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) is proud to announce that Shawn Martinez, high school senior and founder of AVUS Connect, is the recipient of the 2023 William R. Simms Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, Group, sponsored by Carter.

The award, sponsored by Carter through the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy, honors young people with a proven record of exceptional generosity who demonstrate outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and whose philanthropy encourages others to engage on a community, national, and/or international level. 

“As the founder of AVUS Connect and AVUS Tech Pals, I am proud of the social impact intergenerational volunteer programs are having on fostering intergenerational dialogue and addressing isolation and loneliness in older adults,” said Shawn. “What began as a call to action and community service project has evolved into AVUS Tech Pals, a nationally recognized program at United HomeCare that has received $180,000 in grant funding from the National Community Care Corps. We hope that our model can be replicated in other communities across the country. The lessons I've learned while building this project from the ground up have inspired me to pursue more social entrepreneurship and philanthropic endeavors. Receiving this award inspires me and the other youth volunteers to continue our commitment to making a lasting difference in the lives of those around us." 

After his grandmothers passed away in 2019, Shawn noticed his grandfathers becoming depressed and socially isolated, especially once the COVID-19 pandemic set in. 

In response, Shawn launched AVUS Connect, an intergenerational, youth-led volunteer platform. He then partnered with United HomeCare, a nonprofit social services organization, to connect his youth volunteers with home-bound older adults in Miami Dade County. 

In the last two years, AVUS Connect has provided 14,400 hurricane preparedness meals to older adults and resulted in 2,500 volunteer service hours. The total economic value of goods and services provided through the AVUS Connect platform is valued at more than $205,000. The program has also been certified as a Program of Distinction by Generations United, an association dedicated to intergenerational collaboration. 

AVUS Tech Pals is a companion volunteer program dedicated specifically to addressing the technology barrier keeping older adults from connecting in the modern world. Tech Pals provides tablets and connectivity, as well as tech training, to help seniors reconnect with their families and their communities.

AVUS Tech Pals was provided a national grant for 18 months, which Shawn hopes will provide the visibility and data needed to expand the program nationally.  

“Part of philanthropy’s societal role is to fill gaps in public services – and what an extraordinary model both AVUS Connect and AVUS Tech Pals have provided in filling the gap in care for seniors,” Carter’s co-founder and chairman, Bob Carter, said. “We are proud to help recognize Shawn and his inspiring example of love for humankind.”

“Younger generations are the future of philanthropy,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “Shawn recognized a need and took action to improve the lives of those around him, while connecting the members of his community. You’re never too young to inspire others to service. All of us at AFP are honored to recognize this amazing young philanthropist.”

The award will be presented in New Orleans on April 18 during AFP ICON 2023, the largest gathering of fundraising professionals in the world.  For more information about AVUS Connect and AFP ICON, please contact Natalie Paskoski at (434)-236-5583 or  

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Co-founded by Bob Carter and Steve Higgins in 2011, Carter is a team of 50+ senior-level nonprofit professionals working in the areas of fundraising, governance and organizational planning to advance philanthropy worldwide. 

Each Carter consultant brings decades of executive-level development experience to serve as an extension of an organization’s team, help maximize their potential and better serve their cause. 

Carter has guided hundreds of organizations of all sizes, ranging from regional nonprofit agencies and national associations to international causes, in successfully planning for and implementing significant and transformational campaigns and organizational progress. For more information, visit

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Since 1960, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has been the standard-bearer for professionalism in fundraising. The association works to advance effective and ethical philanthropy by providing advocacy, research, education, mentoring, collaboration and technology opportunities for the world’s largest network of professional fundraisers. AFP’s more than 27,000 members in over 240 chapters raise over $100 billion annually for a wide variety of charitable organizations and causes across the globe. For more information, go to

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