Tabitha Besley, 23, identifies as a queer femme; vegetarian; Taurus with Cancer rising, an Aries moon and lots of planets in the 10th house; and lover of all things polka dot. She is one of 60 young people worldwide—the only New Zealander—to receive the Queen’s Young Leader Award, an accolade for her work to ensure support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) young people in schools. (more…)
Alexandra Scott was born healthy in 1996 in Manchester, Connecticut. However, when Alex was nine months old, her mother realized that something was wrong with her little girl and started going to a doctor to seek advice and solutions.
When she was four, Alex received a stem cell transplant. At that moment, Alex told her mother that she wanted to open a lemonade stand in her front yard, called Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation. She said she wanted to give the money to doctors to allow them to ”help other kids, like they helped me.” True to her word, she held her first lemonade stand later that year with the help of her older brother and raised an amazing $2,000 for “her hospital.” Alex then affirmed that (more…)
Jack and Sook Sai. Used with permission from Elephant Nature Park.
Family holidays evoke memories of long journeys, good weather and making new friends. When Jack Lanting and his family went from New Zealand to Thailand for a holiday in 2009, those new friends included Asian elephants. Jack, who was 8 years old at the time, was so moved by the plight of Thailand’s elephants that he did something extraordinary – he bought an elephant to save it from a life of servitude and cruelty. (more…)
In some countries around the world, such as Egypt, Kenya, and Romania, the education system is examination-oriented, meaning that test scores, rather than learning, become the ultimate goal of education. According to a report of the International Journal for Innovation Education and Research, this ultimately distorts students’ motivation and learning, by overstressing the importance of exam results as a measure of students’ abilities. At its worst, an examination-oriented education system can stifle many students’ imagination, creativity, and sense of self, hindering their success in and out of the classroom.
Through her nonprofit, A Million Faces-Renaissance, Dorcus Odera, a 25-year-old Kenyan living in Nairobi, is a young woman ardently fighting to change the Kenyan education system’s focus on exams, by seeking to identify children’s greatest abilities and cultivating those to discover the peculiar bent of the genius in each through education. (more…)
Interested in entering to win an intimate family dinner in New York City with Lady Gaga while supporting the Born This Way Foundation? How about supporting sarcoma cancer research by winning a trip to the set of The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay?
Bryan Baum, 24 Photo Source: Forbes
Bryan Baum, age 24 and co-founder of Prizeo, is re-inventing philanthropy for our tech-savy and celebrity-driven age. As one of Forbes’ 2014 30 under 30 Social Entrepreneurs, Bryan Baum’s Prizeo has raised over 3 million dollars for charity while creating unique experiences for celebrity fans across the globe. With degrees in Philosophy, Politics, Mathematics and Economics from Oxford University and Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, Bryan has spent time understanding and re-thinking philanthropy as we know it. The World Economic Forum website states that while at Oxford, he directed the Aloysius Society, a philanthropic society in Oxford that has raised over US$ 1,000,000 in a year and has appeared in over 30 publications. (more…)
Jessica Steinberg started her nonprofit, Giveable Giggles, in 2008, when she was only 13 years-old.
The organization’s mission is to reproduce conditions which create opportunities for children, (specific to their context), to achieve laughter, leadership and learning on a consistent basis. The organization’s activities have been carried out all over the world, including Israel, Jordan, Uganda, Argentina, and India . Right now, Giveable Giggles is currently undergoing an organizational restructuring; this is in order to ensure a genuine long-term impact for the community members we interact with. They are in the process of finding a site (in China) to establish a “Giveable Giggles village.”
Cody Unser is an ambitious young woman who is rarely seen without her big smile. You would never be able to tell that when she was younger, she was diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis (TM), a neurological condition that injures the spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed and restrained to a wheelchair.
At the time of her diagnosis, her physicians had little information about this disease. To raise awareness about TM, she and her mother founded the Cody Unser First Step Foundation, The New Mexico based non-profit has provided support for those who also suffer from various forms of paralysis. (more…)
Bullied youth has passion to help people: meets many new friends
Sunday, June 1st, 2014 by Raluca Besliu
Harnoor Gill is a 16-year-old from Georgetown, Canada, with a passion for volunteering. He was born in Hong Kong to Indian parents, but has lived in Canada most of his life.
Currently in secondary school, Harnoor has been volunteering since he was three. At that tender age, he started going door-to-door to
sell cookies to raise money for the Hong Kong Red Cross. It was not until the first time that he visited India with his parents and had his “first brush with poverty in the form of a freezing child in the streets during a cold winter that I realized what a difference I could make.”
Harnoor stresses that he couldn’t be where he is now without his parents, who have always supported and encouraged his desire to make a difference in the world, especially after he started having problems with bullying in elementary school. (more…)
Since he was very young, 20-year-old Luis Fernando Cruz was fascinated by the idea of becoming an inventor. He wanted to improve society through his creations. His determination to help society was heightened by the fact that he was born and raised in Honduras.
Life in his country allowed him to understand the issues that many third-world countries are suffering from, not just in terms of the scarcity of commodities that inhabitants in these nations struggle to possess, but in terms of the lack of opportunities afforded to young people to solve social problems through reforms and innovation. When he was 14-years-old, Luis Fernando returned to the idea of becoming an entrepreneur. He started educating himself in a field of increasing interest: computer science and digital electronics. His persistence and determination to learn quickly paid off: when he was 16-years-old, he developed the first video game system ever built in Honduras.In an article written for Huffington Post, he confessed that, through his invention, ‘I knew I was not only innovating, but serving as an example for people my age.’ (more…)
Boy empowers children to fulfill the Millennium Development Goals
Sunday, May 4th, 2014 by Raluca Besliu
When he was 9-years-old, Dylan Mahalingam founded Lil’MDGs, an international development organization aiming to leverage the power of the Internet and social media to educate, engage, inspire and empower children and young people from across the world to work together to advance the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs were eight international development goals set in 2000, aim to meet the needs of the world’s poorest by 2015.
Through his organization, Dylan, who is currently 18 years-old, managed to mobilize tens of thousands of children from 40 states across the U.S. and 43 countriesto raise more than $780,000 for tsunami relief and over $10 million for hurricane relief. Through their combined effort, these young people have managed to make a tangible difference in the lives of over one million people worldwide. (more…)
Yetunde Adeola Odugbesan-Omede is an extremely busy and involved 26-year-old woman.She is the Founder and Executive Director of Young Woman’s Guide, Inc., the founder and CEO of Yetunde Global Consulting and Creator of Putting Your Best Self Forward. She is Nigerian-American and her passions include leadership, women empowerment, human rights, politics, writing and public speaking.
She started Yetunde Global Consulting to provide organizational management, growth strategies and leadership development for companies, non-profits and their employees. Before starting her firm, the young entrepreneur had already gained expertise in communications strategies and in leadership development. She decided that her knowledge would be more useful through her own business. Her organization provides customized workshops and trainings for human resource divisions and for professionals. Most of Yetunde’s clients are located in the US.
The young entrepreneur revealed that her organization currently works with non-profit organizations, such as United Way of Essex and West Hudson, Nigerian Healthcare Foundation and Rutgers University, as well as with various entrepreneurs and senior management. Yetunde Global Consulting’s philosophy involves giving back to the world, so she is on the board of several organizations and volunteers her time for initiatives that she believes in.
Water! What’s so special about water? Ryan Hreljac found out that it is pretty special if you don’t have it. When Ryan was in first grade, his teacher wanted her students to begin to think about sharing basic things with people who do not have what most people take for granted. One of the things she said some people in Africa needed was a water well. Ryan asked, “Why do they need a well? Why don’t they just go to the water fountain?”
source: Ryan’s Well Foundation
His teacher said there is no water fountain, and the nearest water well is 5,000 meters away. Ryan had to convert meters to steps, and when he found that it was only ten steps to his water fountain he began to realize how difficult 5,000 steps would be. So the idea of providing a well sounded pretty significant and he decided to try to provide one. He went home and asked his parents for the seventy dollar cost. He says his parent sat him down and told him that since it was not a small amount of money, he would have to earn it over time. By the time he had done enough chores to have earned seventy dollars the program at his school was over. When he contacted organizations that provide wells in Africa, he found the total cost to get a well dug and functioning was more like two thousand dollars. (more…)
The End of Malaria? Brothers Might Have The Answer
Wednesday, June 26th, 2013 by Raluca Besliu
Brothers John and Mark Lewandowski may soon launch a global health revolution, by inventing a portable, cheap, fast and easy to use device for early malaria diagnosis. Their invention may not only prevent the death of millions who have already contracted the disease, but also lead to a drastic reduction of incidences of malaria.
Mark and John Lewandowski
Malaria is a leading cause of death in the world. Around 300-500 million people are infected with malaria each year. In 2010 alone, an estimated 660,000 people died from the disease. Caused by parasites of the Plasmodium species, malaria is easily transmitted to people when infected mosquitoes bite them. It is most common in sub-Saharan Africa and some parts of Asia and Latin America. While continuing to claim countless lives on a yearly basis, malaria can be cured, especially if detected in its early phases. (more…)
Shea Gouldd, an 18-year-old, from Delray Beach, Florida, had an interest in cooking since before she can remember. According to her mother, as a toddler she preferred to watch cooking shows rather than cartoons.
Shea Gouldd Photo source: www.sheasbakery.com
Her mother recalls that Shea always wanted to help make dinner. Her mom would let her snip green beans with scissors, measure rice and carry out other small tasks. Shea’s passion for cooking gradually turned to baking.
Since baking ingredients are rather expensive, her mother, a self-employed single-parent, challenged her to earn money. So, in 2008, at the age of 14, she started selling gourmet cheesecakes and seasonal breads to family friends and neighbors to earn money for baking and developing new recipes.
The business won customers and soon she could open her own bakery: Shea’s Bakery. Family friends allowed the teenager to use a kitchen inside an office, in exchange for Shea’s catering for their occasional events. Through word of mouth, the young entrepreneur managed to have over 30 orders by that Thanksgiving. (more…)
Talia Leman wanted to help the victims of the destructive and deadly Hurricane Katrina. Determined to help as much as possible, the ten year old planned to raise $1 million, which for most would seem a ludicrously ambitious goal, especially for a child her age. Talia managed to rally a children-led movement that reported not $1 million, but over $10 million, ranking this youth-led giving power with the top five U.S. corporate donors, including Wal-Mart, Exxon and AT&T.
Talia Leman Photo source: randomkid.org
The movement started that Halloween when Talia decided to trick-or-treat for coins instead of candy. Her younger brother, however, vehemently opposed. Consequently, she became the CEO, chief executive optimist, of the fundraising effort, while her brother became the CON, the chief executive nemesis. (more…)
Ten-year-old Martha Payne advocates for healthier foods in school
Friday, May 24th, 2013 by Raluca Besliu
In 2012, 9-year-old Martha Payne, a Scottish schoolgirl from Lochgilphead, discovered her passion for writing after publishing a newspaper article on the Titanic’s sinking.
Looking for a way to write everyday, Martha and her dad created a blog that documented Martha’s school lunches. Martha was coming home hungry because of the poor quality of the food served at school. The schoolgirl lives on a small farm, on which her family grows some of their food. She could easily tell the difference between the highly-processed food at her school and the simpler, healthier cuisine she was eating at home.
Hannah Taylor was five years-old when her and her mother drove passed a man eating out of a garbage can in Winnipeg, Canada. Puzzled, Hannah asked her mother why he would do this. She introduced Hannah to the dire reality of homelessness. For the rest of the year, the story of the man troubled Hannah and prompted her to ask her parents questions about homelessness, until one day her mother encouraged her to take action, as a solution to her inquietude.
Following her mom’s advice, Hannah asked her grade school teacher if she could talk to the class about homelessness. She did and together with her peers, she “ended up having a bake and art sale, and giving all the proceeds and clothes and stuff to a local mission. And it got bigger from there.”
At 8 years-old, Hannah established the Ladybug Foundation Inc., an organization that currently assists over 50 Canadian charities, which provide shelter, food and other basic provisions for the homeless, hungry and poor. Hannah also strives to raise awareness about homelessness and has spoken at over 175 schools and to audiences as large as 16,000. She constantly reminds people that food and shelter are basic human rights and everyone must do their share to help those in need. Hannah has also discussed the issue of homelessness with top officials, such as the past Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin and current Prime Minister Stephen Harper, CEOs and the Presidents of Corporations, musicians and actors. (more…)
Thirteen-year-old Cecilia Cassini from Encino, California was the youngest designer in the U.S. and one of the youngest in the world, when she launched her own label in 2009, at the age of 9. By 2011, she had already created over 500 original pieces and dressed many celebrities, including Heidi Klum and Miley Cyrus.
When he was two years old, Cris “Kesz” Valdez’s father forced him to scavenge at a dump site in Cavite City, situated not far from Manila. His father used to beat Kesz and use the money collected for drugs and alcohol.
Photo Source: Bida Kapamilya
When he turned four, Kesez ran away from home and lived on the streets, continuing to scavenge off a dump site and to sleep in an open tomb in a public cemetery with other kids.
Three years later, he sustained severe burns on his arms, when he fell in a pile of burning tires. He was rescued and cared for by a social worker, Harnin “Bonn” Manalaysay, who has provided for the boy ever since. Kesz is now the founder of the Bible study and outreach group Club 8586.
On his seventh birthday, in 2005, the first one he was celebrating in his entire life, Kesz did not want any presents from himself. Instead, he gave small gifts for street children. Soon afterwards, Kesz, who is now 14, established the charity organization that he has ran ever since, Championing Community Children. (more…)
Dalumuzi Mhlanga is a young Zimbabwean man empowering, mobilizing and inspiring the youth in his country “to work together beyond socioeconomic barriers so that they can lead community development efforts.”
Source: Lead Us Today
Dalumuzi is a student of Politics, Psychology and Sociology at Harvard University, who is currently on an exchange program at the University of Oxford, UK, as a recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship.
In order to achieve his ambitious goals, the young Zimbabwean started an organization, called Lead Us Today and providing leadership and entrepreneurship training, during the summer after his freshman year at Harvard.
He worked with a small team of young people to create a curriculum and started with only 64 students, but by the end of the summer they already had 200 people enrolled.
Thus far, the organization has trained over 300 students from eight high schools in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In each school, his organization created community learning centers, which are spaces that bring together community members to tackle key issues facing their communities.
F*ck Cancer: Yael Cohen’s revolutionary approach to beating cancer
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by Raluca Besliu
In 2009, after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery, then 22 years-old Yael Cohen decided to start a non-profit organization called F*ck Cancer.
Yael Cohen, the founder of F*ck Cancer.
Cohen recalls why she decided to create the organization: “The movement started from my head in my hands, defeated and defiant, wanting to support my mom. I decided I would do something to teach people how to look for cancer instead of just find it, because early detection really was our salvation. It has been almost two years since mom was diagnosed, and my life is now completely different.”
In 2009, when Ally Mollo was 8 years-old, she started drawing pictures of guardian angels, inspired by her own guardian angel, her grandfather. ”My mom always said my grandpa was looking over me so I drew lots of angels representing my family and friends.”
Ally Mollo, the creator of a doll empire.
Her mother loved her drawings and suggested that they should do something more with them. Ally decided to transform them into soft dolls, because she wanted them to give “kids comfort and also be fun to play with and bring along.”
She created the Guardian Angel Rainbow Division (G.A.R.D.), an “elite task force of angels” created with “talents, special skills and gave each one an emotional strength that helped them to earn their wings.”
The G.A.R.D is made up of seven plush dolls with different ethnic backgrounds and stories about how they got their wings. They are all part of the Custard ‘n Jelly doll collection, a name inspired by Ally’s Italian roots. “We discovered that ‘guardian angel’ in Italian is ‘custodi angeli.’ Custard ‘n Jelly was born!”
The dolls, which are produced in China, are sold online and by 19 separate retailers throughout the United States. Ally’s favorite doll is Laney, a red-headed Scot whose specializes in “making wishes.”
Ally was not satisfied with just being an entrepreneur, she wanted to be a “socialprenuer.” She decided that a portion of the doll sales should go to one of three charities that help children, which she carefully chose herself: Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, Child Find of America, and Children Incorporated. (more…)
At a young age Jason McAninch discovered he was good at operating and troubleshooting computers, as he kept helping classmates and teachers with their computer problems. In 1999, when he was in the 8th grade, he started J-TEK, a company initially focused on creating custom computers for locals. When companies such as Dell and Gateway entered the market, the young entrepreneur’s company shifted its focus on computer consulting, “helping others with technology support.”
Throughout high-school and college Jason continued to create a client platform for J-TEK as much as studying and work allowed him to. But, it was only May 2010 that Jason decided to take a “leap of faith” and pursue J-TEK full time. J-TEK currently provides its services to Johnson County and surrounding areas in Kansas. Stressing that the key to success is putting constant hard work into your business, Jason nevertheless acknowledges that it is essential to take care of your well-being, because “if you don’t have your health, you have nothing.”
Jason also believes that, when creating an enterprise, it is important to surround yourself with people that believe in you and your ideas, to seek input from others, including parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts/uncles, customers, and to create a team to keep you grounded and focused on your goals.
In retrospect, Jason thinks that: “I was a little crazy to risk all of that, but that’s what separates entrepreneurs from the rest of everyone else. It takes extreme risk to start a business and I think my age has definitely been a HUGE factor to my success, but it also has been a struggle. I looked at it this way – if I fail, I am still young in my career and have time to dust my shoulders off from a failure and go do something else without any major consequences.”
The young entrepreneur initially worried funding would be an obstacle, but came up with inventive ways to overcome this problem. He recalls: “When I couldn’t afford to buy parts for example for computer repairs, I had customers pay for the parts and even go get them for me (before I could drive) so I could do the repairs.” Another concern was building the right team for J-Tek. (more…)
13 Year-Old Solves Big Problem With Slick Solution
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by Charlie Butts
At thirteen, a Connecticut middle-school student, Cassandra Lin was upset to find that many people in her community couldn’t afford heating fuel. She was already bothered by the world-wide issue of global warming. Instead of thinking since she is just a kid it isn’t her problem, she made it her problem. And because she didn’t know she couldn’t solve the problem… well just click on this short video and see what she does.
Teen Empowers Women to Earn for Children’s Education
Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013 by Raluca Besliu
In 2009, then 14-year-old Laetitia Mukungu started in her grandparents’ village the Women’s Rabbit Association (WRA), a cooperative organization that farms rabbits to help local women led decent lives and pay for their children’s educational needs. The rabbits are sold to Kenyan restaurants for meat.
The teenager’s decision to start the business was directly linked with unexpected changes in her life. After completing her primary education at Nairobi Primary School in the Kenyan capital, where her mother, the main breadwinner, lived and worked, Laetitia was admitted to attend Precious Blood Girls’ School Riruta. She could not afford the fees, given that her mother had lost her job.
Laetitia decided to return to her grandparents’ village and be a tutor in Maths, English and Science at the Bukura Educational Complex, a local primary school in her village. It was then that she discovered “the problems that these children faced: lack of school fees like me at that moment, uniform and adequate stationery.” (more…)
Things can seem so simple through the eyes of a child. There is no grey, only black and white, right and wrong. It often makes adults, those who “know better,” simply shake their heads. But it’s also why children can surprise us and enlighten us, can accomplish things we wouldn’t have even dreamed of—like, say, improving cancer research with nothing more than a lemonade stand.
By the time she was eight years old, Alexandra Scott, the founder of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, had turned that dream into a reality with little more than ambition and the inability to “know better.” And really, it shouldn’t have surprised anyone.
Asya Gonzales is the young founder of Stinky Feet Gurlz, a company that designs, markets and sells 1940s-inspired t-shirts and apparel.The 16-year-old girl came up with this idea when her mother showed her one of her childhood doodles of a girl with big red lips and pin curls. Asya recounts that when her mother, alongside her sister and cousin, were children, “they played hard and when they’d come in to watch TV, they’d take off their shoes and their grandma would come in and shoo them out because their feet were stinky so they were the original Stinky Feet Gurlz.”
Inspired by her mother’s doodle, Asya started drawing similar 1940-looking girls. She subsequently got the idea that her drawings would look good on t-shirts, and, with the support of her parents, she started Stinky Feet Gurlz. (more…)
Lauren Slive: Changing Health Care in Africa, One Suitcase at a Time
Wednesday, July 18th, 2012 by Chris Landers
And to think, it all started with a couple of suitcases.
When Lauren Slive first began her dream to improve health care in Ghana in 2007, she was just a 19-year-old girl dragging as many supplies as she could carry through airport customs. But from those humble beginnings sprang Project HEAL, an organization connecting medical supplies and knowledge to hospitals and communities in Northwest Ghana.
Lauren Slive: Two suitcases to 100 tons
The determination of Lauren and her friend, Emma Lawrence, ensured that their dream would grow. In that first summer, the group distributed 450 medical kits and informational pamphlets to families and health leaders. By the time they graduated in 2009 — with the help of over 50 volunteers along the way— Project HEAL was responsible for a children’s library, a playground and thousands of pounds of first aid materials. (more…)