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April 19, 2017

Zachary Cooper Wins Grand Prize in CTIA Wireless Foundation’s 2017 Drive Smart Digital Short Contest

14-Year-Old High School Freshman From California Wins Grand Prize in CTIA Wireless Foundation’s Third Annual National Drive Smart Digital Short Contest

Zachary Cooper Wins Grand Prize in CTIA Wireless Foundation’s 2017 Drive Smart Digital Short Contest


Zachary Cooper of El Dorado High School will receive a $10,000 scholarship; April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month

WASHINGTON – Today, CTIA Wireless Foundation™ announced Zachary Cooper, 14, of Yorba Linda, Calif. as the grand prize winner of its third annual “Drive Smart: No Distractions, No Excuses” teen digital short contest. CTIA Wireless Foundation Executive Director Athena Polydorou traveled to El Dorado High School to recognize Cooper and present the freshman with a scholarship worth $10,000.

This year’s finalists represented schools and municipalities across the United States, a testament to the importance of Distracted Driving Awareness Month. CTIA Wireless Foundation congratulates Audrey Moore (Freed-Hardeman University/Somerset, Kent.) Leo Pfeifer (Point Park University/Seattle) for their runner-up entries and semifinalists Minh-Khoi Le (Fountain Valley High School/Huntington Beach, Calif.), Brianna Seaberg (Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts/North Palm Beach, Fla.) and Robert Skrob (Leon High School/Tallahassee, Fla.).

Through a partnership with By Kids For Kids, CTIA Wireless Foundation created the Drive Smart campaign to inspire teens to create compelling digital shorts to discourage their peers (and adults) from distracted driving. Cooper’s digital short was selected from hundreds of digital short submissions from students across the country.

“I wanted to make a difference, however small, in how teens regard texting and driving. I hopefully I make at least a few realize that no text message or notification is worth putting yourself and others in danger,” Cooper said. “This contest is important because 11% of the drivers involved in fatal car accidents are teens. When I start driving in two years, I’ll know so much more about driving safely than I would have known if I hadn’t participated.”

“I’m proud of the Foundation’s Drive Smart program and the work it does to engage teenagers and provide a platform for young people to promote safe driving habits and showcase the consequences of distracted driving to their peers. Promoting driver safety is a goal that the Foundation, CTIA and the wireless industry share,” said Meredith Attwell Baker, President of CTIA Wireless Foundation and President and CEO of CTIA.

In addition to Cooper’s scholarship, his teacher and mentor, Mark Switzer, received $1,000.

“Zach is a first-year student in our Digital Media Arts Academy film program at El Dorado High School.  He’s only a 9th grader, and all of the work I have seen from him so far shows great promise. I think he has the potential to become an outstanding filmmaker,” Switzer said. “The video production students in Zach’s class all participated in the Drive Smart Contest this past December, which I felt was a great opportunity for them to learn about a worthwhile cause while practicing their filmmaking skills. The entire program is proud of Zach and to be represented by his outstanding entry.”

The runners-up were each awarded $5,000 scholarships, and semifinalists each won $1,000 scholarships. Each teacher/mentor of a runner-up won $500, and each of a semifinalist won $250.

Five judges who are senior executives from the wireless, automotive and advertising industries chose the grand-prize winner, runner-ups and semifinalists. They evaluated entries based on creativity, communicative effectiveness and potential impact on teens.

To learn more about the Drive Smart: No Distractions, No Excuses campaign and watch the digital shorts, visit

For all winning videos, visit the CTIA Wireless Foundation YouTube channel.

About CTIA Wireless Foundation
CTIA Wireless Foundation ( is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to developing and supporting initiatives that use wireless technology to help American communities. Its innovative programs benefit consumers in areas including education, health, safety and the environment. The Foundation was formed by CTIA® member companies in 1991. Follow CTIA Wireless Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

About By Kids For Kids
By Kids for Kids® (BKFK®) is an educational company providing free programs and resources to schools and families through corporate and foundation partnerships. BKFK provides a unique platform for kids and teens to develop and showcase their ideas, inventions, and entrepreneurship. The company provides free resources, including curricula and challenges that promote social change, product innovation, and entrepreneurial endeavors. Learn more:

About Drive Smart: No Distractions, No Excuses
To reinforce the dangers of distracted driving by teens, CTIA Wireless Foundation has partnered with By Kids For Kids to create the Drive Smart: No Distractions, No Excuses program. The initiative challenges young people to create a Drive Smart Digital Short designed to discourage teens from distracted driving and using mobile devices behind the wheel. Follow the conversation online at #DriveSmartNow and

Press Contacts:
CTIA Wireless Foundation: Jilane Rodgers Petrie, [email protected], 202-736-3245
BKFK: Laura Ploss, [email protected], 203-321-2146

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