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Austin High School Graduate Earns International Youth Philanthropy Award

August 11, 2016

CONTACT: Michael Nilsen, Vice President, Public Affairs, (425) 241-4675                                        

(Arlington, VA)  Archer Hadley, a 19-year old high school graduate who has cerebral palsy and uses a power wheelchair—but hasn’t let any of those challenges stop him from raising over $100,000 for disability access and awareness—has been named the 2016 CARTER Outstanding Youth Philanthropist by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

Archer will receive his award at the National Philanthropy Day Honors event during AFP’s 2017 International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco, April 30 – May 2, 2017.

The CARTER Award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy honors a young person with a proven record of exceptional generosity who demonstrates outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and whose philanthropy encourages others to engage on a community, national and/or international level.

Archer’s philanthropic journey began one rainy morning outside Austin High School while getting soaking wet waiting for someone to open the main school doors for him. Frustrated by the incident, which was not uncommon, he was inspired to start Archer’s Wheelchair Challenge to raise money to install automatic power doors at the school. The campaign, led by Archer, raised an incredible $87,000, far more than originally planned, leading to the installation of five power doors, a new ramp and roof over the main doors. 

But the campaign—and Archer—haven’t stopped. He has led the campaign at other schools, leading to the installation of 17 power doors at four schools, as well as a wheelchair ramp, roof and an accessible outdoor eating table at Austin High.  In total, Archer has helped raise more than $112,000, as well as over $142,000 in in-kind gifts, in addition to nearly 12,000 volunteer hours from students and other supporters.

“It is a great honor to receive this award, and I am SO pleased that I did,” said Archer. “It gives me the opportunity to amplify my vision in a bigger way; to raise awareness while encouraging others to strive for their dreams no matter their circumstances. I am humbled to be recognized for an idea I had that my friends and community were generous enough to support.  Thank you for believing in me.”

Archer’s campaign is about more than just raising money—it is about raising awareness. Through the Wheelchair Challenge, more than 1,400 students and others spent a day in a wheelchair, leading to an understanding of the challenges people with disabilities face every day.

As an Eagle Scout and member of the Boy Scouts of America, National Disability Awareness Task Force, Archer led the Disability Merit Badge at his local Council. He taught disability advocacy and organized a wheelchair challenge obstacle course helping 1200 scouts experience what it was like for those with a disability.

At the request of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Leadership, Archer took his challenge to San Antonio. Seventy leaders experienced a day in a wheelchair in downtown San Antonio, and he challenged the city to hire people with disabilities and address issues that made it difficult for them to navigate their way around the city. 

Looking to the future, Archer is currently in the process of starting a foundation, “Archer’s Challenge,” and organizing an Austin-wide Wheelchair Challenge in October 2016. The challenge will put 470 people (including media personalities, University of Texas officials and students, state legislators, school district officials and corporate leaders) in wheelchairs while increasing awareness and support for Rosedale School, which provides services to youth and young adults with severe disabilities.

Archer was also appointed to the Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, and has met with legislators and community members to discuss the challenges and issues that face people with disabilities.

“Archer Hadley’s courage, dedication and character are simply extraordinary,” said Steve Higgins, CFRE, president of CARTER, the fundraising firm that sponsors the award. “He has done so much already—overcome so many challenges even before the age of 20—that he is an inspiration to us all. Not only he is an incredible campaigner and fundraiser, but he is a tireless advocate, never missing a chance to share his story and the stories of others with disabilities. All of us at CARTER are proud to join with AFP in recognizing his amazing story and look forward to the next chapter in this amazing young man’s journey.” 

Archer and students at Austin High produced a three-minute documentary about his project, which was an official selection at the White House Film Festival and won first place at the SXSW Film Festival. The film can be seen here

More information about Archer Hadley and the AFP National Philanthropy Day Honors can be obtained by contacting Michael Nilsen at (425) 241 – 4675 or


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