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First Book and Ashoka Announce 15 Youth Challenge Winners in Time for Change Nationwide Initiative

$1,000 grants spotlight student action to implement community-based solutions and embrace changemaking

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2024 /PRNewswire/ –Today, First Book and Ashoka, leading organizations in educational equity and social entrepreneurship, have announced the 15 grand prize winners of the Time for Change Youth Challenge. Young changemakers from across the country will receive $1,000 grants for student-led solutions to improve their classrooms, schools, and communities. The Time for Change Youth Challenge is designed to spark transformative changemaking journeys in young people, with submissions ranging from kindergarten to 12th grade students looking to bring their innovative solution to life or expand an existing student-led initiative.

First Book, the largest online community of educators serving kids living in low-income communities, and Ashoka, the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs, have dedicated $30,000 in grant money to fuel localized, community projects and help young people embrace their power and ability to effect change. This announcement also celebrates five All-Star Educators, who have introduced changemaking into their classrooms and inspired young people to work towards a common goal of generating new ideas to address the challenges they face. The Youth Challenge is part of the broader Time for Change initiative grounded in the belief that every young person, particularly those from low-income and historically excluded communities, grow up with the support and resources to thrive as lifelong, dynamic changemakers, applying creative solutions to address problems in their schools, communities and beyond.

“We are thrilled to celebrate these young leaders who are poised to tackle problems they identify in their community with innovative thinking and a vision for positive change,” said Kyle Zimmer, President and CEO of First Book. “Changemaking is more than a moment of action. It is a mindset that empowers our youth to make a positive impact in their world, no matter how complex or precise a solution. These young people bring to life the powerful idea of collective, community-based action and inspire all of us with the dedication to spark change.”

The Time for Change Youth Challenge received submissions from 36 states and the District of Columbia and will ultimately deliver prizes to over 200 students in Title I, tribal, or military base schools who are taking action in their community. The Youth Challenge builds on the success of the Time for Change: Dream, Act, Change Our World campaign, first launched by First Book and Ashoka in 2022. The initiative has since expanded internationally to inspire young people to become changemakers for their schools and communities. Time for Change works directly with educators serving students in Title I schools to develop and distribute evidence-based best practices including, A Guide for Inspiring Young Changemakers, a resource filled with changemaker stories from diverse communities that reflect the economic and social challenges experienced by educators and students across the country.

“Once a young person has had a dream, built a team, and changed his or her world, he or she knows deep down that (s)he is a changemaker for life, with the most important power, the power to give,” said Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka. “This power is critical in the new everything changing reality. Value now requires changemaking and not, as it has for millennia, from efficiency in repetition. These young people will have good lives and contribute a lot to society. Together with First Book, we welcome these young people into the world’s growing global community of changemakers.”

Time for Change seeks to nurture an environment where students believe they can be changemakers, are empowered to take initiative, and supported to realize their goals of positive impact. The Youth Challenge demonstrates the eagerness of young people to make lasting change in their schools and classrooms. Below are this year’s grand prize winners.

2024 Time for Change Youth Challenge Winners

Kindergarten – 7th Grade

James, Kindergarten, of Milford, Connecticut leads “Buzz for Bees,” a local environmental effort to grow pollinator plants across the community to support a dwindling bee population, raise awareness about biodiversity, and nurture local ecosystems. 

Autumn, 2nd grade, of Alpharetta, Georgia is the founder of “Pages of Possibilities,” a network of little libraries filled with stories depicting young people making change to inspire and empower her classmates and other young people in her community. 

Daniela, 2nd grade, of Denton, Texas is establishing a toy and game collection program to improve school recess during rainy days, ensure enriching, screen-free activities, and encourage the development of social and language skills.

Everett, 3rd grade, of Ashfield, Massachusetts is starting a community clean-up project to encourage collective action in picking up trash, raise awareness about the negative impact of littering, and safeguard local animals and the surrounding environment.  

Knox, 3rd grade, of Fort Pierce, Florida is the founder of “Garden Time,” a school and community gardening project aimed at educating students on nutritional health, teaching sustainable gardening practices, and fostering the growth of home gardens throughout the community. 

Jayleen, 6th grade, of Los Angeles, California leads a schoolwide effort to increase access to affordable school uniforms and establish a sustainable model of donated uniforms for students in need.

8th-12th Grade

Tremanie, 8th grade, of Bradenton, Florida, and her friends Cameron, Gabe, and Noah are tackling a growing problem in their community: vandalism. Through spreading the word about its negative effects and helping their teachers and janitors clean up, they hope to make their school a cleaner environment.

Kyleigh, 9th grade, of Radford, Virginia is leading “Every Kid Belongs,” an initiative to build community and support among young people in foster care while raising awareness about the challenges faced by youth in foster care and the importance of finding permanent, loving homes.

Ashley, 10th grade, of Tarzana, California, is the founder of “Arts of Graffiti,” a community art project offering classes focused on graffiti style and its history, shaping community perceptions of graffiti, and creating a space for graffiti artists to legally do their work and inspire others in the neighborhood to explore a new way to be creative.

Katelynn, 10th grade, of San Jose, California, co-founded “Truth Unchained”, a youth-centric organization fighting to end human trafficking through raising awareness, executing targeted interventions, and advocating for the health of survivors. By empowering the youth through teaching, Truth Unchained aims to create a generation equipped to recognize and prevent exploitation before the situation arises. 

Himangini, 12th grade, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana is the founder of “Geaux Girls STEM,” an initiative centered on a STEM workshop series that leverages the power of older students to mentor younger peers, fostering a supportive community of changemakers and imparting not just knowledge but also leadership skills and confidence.

Irfane, 12th grade, of Queens, New York co-founded “Youth-Led Support,” with her friends Maryam and Edlyn, to provide student-led tutoring support to elementary school students in marginalized communities facing systemic educational challenges.

Madelyn, 12th grade, of Midland, Pennsylvania leads “Stop Cancer: Attention to Prevention,” a community health project aimed at mitigating preventable cancer cases and providing medical research on life-threatening lifestyle factors contributing to cancer risks, through her portable education center and a robust social media strategy.

Rebecca, 12th grade, of San Jose, California and her team are addressing the alarming frequency of school shootings with the development of “SIREN,” a gunshot detection and communications system to provide real-time alerts to improve law enforcement response time and notify students, faculty, and parents.  

Zane, 12th grade, of Houston, Texas and first-generation refugee, Ibraheem, are the co-founders of “AIM to AID,” a refugee assistance program with initiatives helping refugees adapt to a new culture and support community members through educational events, donation drives, and other volunteer-based programming.

All-Star Educators

Karyn Bashore, an elementary librarian in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has a passion for STEAM education and began integrating relevant activities, events, and literature choices into her school and community — changing the learning landscape. As an educator serving students from 1st through 5th grade, Karyn has paired award-winning literature with STEAM activities, nurturing changemaking skills like problem solving, teamwork, and leadership. 

Ha Trinh, a Kindergarten through 2nd grade teacher in Los Angeles, California, started “A Little Free Library for All!” box to expand book access to all students in their school. By making books more accessible, the little library helps foster a love of reading, builds a reading community, and inspires readers. 

Lizzie Hansen, a 3rd grade teacher in Sioux Falls, South Dakota recognizes the importance of generosity and building global relationships. She established “The Ubuntu Café,” a coffee shop operated by Hansen’s third graders to give students a space to be changemakers and support their student-chosen cause – a 1st grade classroom in Kenya.

Patricia Vazquez, a 3rd grade teacher in Columbus, Ohio, has pushed barriers to create learning opportunities for educators in her school and promote changemaking activities to help students recognize their ability to create change. To unify her school against common goals, Patricia has taken on the “Letting Students Lead” mindset and has been awarded numerous grants allowing her students to address several issues and causes they care about.

Suzanne Roberts, a Pre-K through 5th grade teacher in Cape Coral, Florida, has developed and scaled her changemaking efforts to empower the next generation to act. Suzanne brought the “kindness is contagious” idea to her students and began donating care packages and funding to Donors Choose, resulting in raising over $300,000 in funds to bring her students’ changemaking ideas come to life with the goal of sparking kindness, charity, and empathy. 

Time for Change is made possible with the support of Audemars Piguet. For years, the Swiss Haute Horlogerie manufacturer has committed to uplifting young people by supporting educational programs and initiatives. Time for Change is a long-term collaboration coinciding with the launch of the limited edition Royal Oak Concept “Black Panther” Flying Tourbillon in partnership with Marvel, paying tribute to the next generation of agents of change. For more information about Time for Change, visit https://firstbook.org/solutions/time-for-change/.

First Book

Education transforms lives. First Book is building a world where every child has access to a quality education. We work to remove barriers to education and level the playing field for kids in need. At the heart of our work are the 575,000 members of the First Book Network, the largest online community of individual educators, professionals and volunteers dedicated to supporting children in need across North America. This Network is the key to creating systemic change. Through our research arm, First Book Research & Insights, we conduct studies that aggregate their voices to identify barriers to equitable education and inform strategic solutions. To address their needs, we provide free and low-cost books, resources, and access to leading experts through the First Book Marketplace, which uses aggregated buying power to support this underserved community. Founded in Washington D.C. in 1992 as a nonprofit social enterprise, First Book is dedicated to eliminating barriers to learning and inspiring young minds. Learn more at firstbook.org and visit our award-winning eCommerce website at fbmarketplace.org.


Ashoka is the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs—individuals with new ideas to systemically address the world’s biggest challenges and the entrepreneurial skill to transform those ideas into social impact. Over 40 years, Ashoka has supported more than 3,600 social entrepreneurs in more than 90 countries with solutions addressing society’s most pressing issues. Ashoka’s vision is a world in which Everyone is a Changemaker—a society that responds quickly and effectively to challenges, and where each person has the freedom, confidence, and societal support to address any social problem. For more information, visit ashoka.org.

Media Contact:
Ian Kenison
[email protected]

SOURCE First Book

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/first-book-and-ashoka-announce-15-youth-challenge-winners-in-time-for-change-nationwide-initiative-302102810.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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