Back in March, T-Mobile and their partner Ashoka set out on a nationwide search with one mission in mind: find and support trailblazing young adults who are thinking outside the box to enact lasting change in their communities. Fast-forward six months and over 330 submissions, and a handful of unbelievable changemakers have been chosen as the winners of this year’s T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge.
Each of the 6 selected Changemaker teams have exceeded expectations and created organizations that will not only make a difference in their own communities, but also have the potential to reach and help millions around the globe. Their unbridled determination to make the world a better place and offer assistance to those in need is beyond admirable, made even more impressive by the fact that most of them are still teenagers.
Earlier this month, the 6 winning Changemaker teams returned to T-Mobile’s HQ to meet with mentors and business teams to super-charge their projects! From legal and marketing support to a hackathon to build a new app, the Changemakers and T-Mobile are stepping up to change the world for good.
Below, we’ll introduce you to each remarkable winning team and take a look at their norm-shattering ideas.
Art with a heart
Every year, millions of children across the world are diagnosed with deadly but treatable diseases and then forced to face their greatest fear…the hospital. Malcolm sought to change this. To shift the negative perception kids have of hospitals and transition fear to fun. With this goal in mind he founded ArtPass, a nonprofit solely focused on changing how kids perceive and experience the hospital through the power of art. To date, ArtPass has 63 registered chapters, spanning from Malcolm’s hometown of Portland, Oregon all the way to Uganda.
Aware to care
Prior to babysitting her friend’s autistic sister Samantha, Sarah’s understanding of people with special needs was elementary at best. But after months of spending time with and getting to know Samantha, Sarah realized just how much she’d misunderstood the autistic community. With Aware, Sarah is encouraging interactions between special education and general education children as a way of breaking down the walls put up around children with special needs.
Power of the sol
After Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico last year, millions were left without power for months causing a full-on energy crisis. This caused Jose to question the entire antiquated electrical system in P.R. and develop Dios del Sol, a community-led initiative that will strategically partner with churches, volunteers and Puerto Rican solar energy associations to help churches finance, transition to, and manage solar microgrids.
Selfies with a purpose
The Bills brothers know that their generation take a lot of selfies. And while selfies are quite literally all about one’s self, they thought of way to change “likes” into action. Enter, Echo Effect — their platform designed to encourage people to post selfless selfies via pictures of themselves doing good deeds and challenging their friends to do the same.
Students helping students
A freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, Sravya knew full well the struggles of making college possible as a low-income, first generation immigrant coming from a public school. She wanted others in similar situations to have access to the information and resources she didn’t so that they’d be able to better navigate the obstacles that come with transitioning from high school to college. This is why she founded PeerLift, a student-run nonprofit organization and online platform that connects high schoolers to six different categories of opportunities: scholarships, summer programs, internships, study abroad programs, awards, and college fly-in programs.
Mental health awareness in bloom
Mental health and depression are major issues for the teenage community, something Julia knows better than anyone as she tragically lost two of her best friends to suicide in a span of just four months in high school. She couldn’t sit still and let the culture of silence around mental health problems continue which is why she created The Yellow Tulip Project, a platform that addresses mental illness in a hopeful way, letting adolescents know that it’s okay to not be okay and that others share the same struggles.
As a result of their hard work, T-Mobile is helping this new generation of innovators receive the funding and exposure they need to continue making meaningful change on an even greater scale.
To learn more about the challenge and watch videos of each of the 6 winning teams click here.
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