CHARLOTTE, N.C. — At just 17 years old, Shreya Mantha is running her own foundation for at-risk girls in the community. She started this foundation when she was 13 years old.
"Foundation for Girls works with [the] homeless, teen moms, trafficking survivors, refuge, foster care, and domestic violence abuse victims," Shreya said.
In 2014, Shreya's grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She had one parting wish for her granddaughter.
"Before she was about to pass, she told my younger sister and I that if there was one thing that we could do to help her and keep her memory alive it would be to help at-risk girls in our community," Shreya said.
According to Shreya, her grandmother had done a lot for the community where she was born and raised in India. Her family held classes on their porch to help at-risk girls.
Shreya's grandmother passed in December of 2014. Before the year was up, Shreya had started building her organization "Foundation for Girls."
"There was so much need I knew that I had to do something," Shreya said. "I couldn't just wait for someone else to do it. I had to take action."
Since its inception in 2014, Foundation for Girls has impacted 1,771 at-risk girls, held 305 workshops and invested 15,000 hours into the community.
WCNC's Sarah French asked Shreya why she thinks it's important for people to give back to their community.
"If we all can't come together as a community to support everybody, we won't be able to progress and grow," Shreya said.
Shreya is a big advocate for giving, as she feels she has been given so much.
"It's so energizing to be able to give back and to give these girls what my parents have given my sister and I our entire lives," Shreya said.
Now, Shreya is being recognized as one of L'Oréal's 2018 Women of Worth, which honors extraordinary women who selflessly volunteer their time to serve their communities.
"I'm so honored to be joining a group of amazing women from across the country," Shreya said. "I never thought the work of Foundation for Girls would reach this national and global level."
Shreya is the youngest award recipient ever.
WCNC's Sarah French asked Shreya what she would like to say to young girls watching who hear her story.
"I always say it's never too young to start making a difference," Shreya said. "Everything big has to start somewhere small."
Shreya received a $10,000 grant from L'Oréal. If she wins through online voting, she will receive an additional $25,000, which will all go toward Foundation for Girls. Voting is open until November 30.