Afif co-founded Aie Serve, a youth empowerment NGO, to nurture a new spirit of volunteerism among Lebanon’s youth and to promote the values of respect, acceptance, and love. Each year, Aie Serve equips hundreds of youth, ages 18 to 30, with the skills, knowledge, tools, and networks they need to contribute to their communities. Activities are carried out through three programs: Aie Clubs, Aie Consult, and Aie Power. A network of 12 Aie Clubs has been established at various universities and in local communities around the country to work on projects that solve local problems. Aie Consult is an NGO incubator with a capacity-building focus that helps youth launch their own nongovernmental organizations or improve their existing organizations through consulting, coaching, and training. Aie Power provides a platform for youth to pitch their non-profit project idea and get the necessary seed funding, coaching, and training to make it a reality. Aie Serve also leads campaigns, training workshops, and coaching sessions. In 2011, Afif was recognized with the King Adbullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement, a member of the YouthActionNet® Global Network.
Agustin founded Caza Sonrisas, a social enterprise, to empower hospitalized children to play a role in their own healing process through games that nurture positive emotions. After being diagnosed with cancer as a child, Agustin experienced firsthand the traumatic impact of being hospitalized and the critical role that positive emotions can play in healing. To date, more than 350 young patients, ages 3-16, have been introduced to innovative games through Caza Sonrisas’ network of trained facilitators, with plans underway to expand the initiative to other parts of Mexico in partnership with medical and health science university programs. In 2011, Agustin was honored by Universidad del Valle de México, a member of the YouthActionNet® Global Network, with the UVM Prize for Social Development.
Alex co-founded StartSomeGood to empower changemakers to mobilize people — and funding — to transform their ideas into action and impact. The StartSomeGood website offers social innovators a platform for communicating world-changing ideas. On the site, they detail their plans and establish a deadline by which they need to reach a financial goal. To ensure the outcomes specified are achieved, none of the money pledged becomes available unless the fundraising goal is met on time. Says Alex, “Our approach leverages the most important trends in philanthropy today — internationalization, personalization, transparency, micro-giving, and gaming — to create a powerful new fundraising platform for changemakers.”
Arun launched the Environmental Foundation of India (EFI) to promote greater awareness of the interconnectedness of all life and to empower citizens to play an active role in conservation efforts. EFI is now active in three cities through the efforts of 800 committed volunteers. Through its Lake Biodiversity Restoration project, EFI has restored six lakes, educated and mobilized students in 137 schools, and produced street plays and documentary films in support of its efforts. Plans are now underway to construct an animal rescue facility. Central to EFI’s work is instilling in humans the value of living in harmony with the natural world.
Benjamin started Emprendejoven to encourage young people, ages 14 to 18, to embrace entrepreneurship as a way of life. Through emphasizing experimentation and “learning by failing,” the initiative develops youths’ noncognitive skills (e.g., self-esteem, motivation, persistence). The result? Those youth who were taught by teachers trained in the Emprendejoven methodology four years ago are now experiencing an average salary increase of 8 percent over those who did not complete the program. Since it was launched in 2008, Emprendejoven has worked with 25,000 students and is now collaborating with the national government in its efforts to integrate entrepreneurship and the development of non-cognitive skills into the educational curricula for all Chilean schools. In 2011, Benjamin received the ACCIONJOVEN award from Universidad Andres Bello, a member of the YouthActionNet® Global Network.
Through Kosovo 2.0, Besa gives voice to Kosovo’s silenced, disenfranchised majority: its young people. Kosovo 2.0 combines traditional and new media to create a self-sustaining platform for youth to become active participants in their communities. An independent, youth-led media outlet, the initiative publishes a print magazine and manages a robust online presence through which youth post blogs, vlogs, and photo essays. Recent themes explored include Kosovo’s image, corruption, and religion and gender issues. Kosovo 2.0 also organizes trainings and workshops on citizen journalism, advocacy, and activism. Material is published in Albanian, English, and Serbian, with the website recording 70,000 unique visitors in 2011.
Through the Experiential Environmental Education for a Better Quality of Life in the Amazon program, Cristian leads educational workshops that engage up to 15,000 students and community members annually in efforts to protect and conserve the natural wealth of the Amazon. Through the project, a program of the Amazon Rescue Centre, children engage in green games, puppet shows, and volunteer activities. Learning is brought to life through exposure to the endangered Amazonian manatee. By creating memorable experiences for children, Cristian seeks to promote conservation as a lifelong experience that is rewarding — and fun. The program is supported, in part, through the sale of locally-produced souvenirs and crafts that promote greater awareness of the plight of the manatee. As a result of its efforts, already eight manatees have been released into the wild. In 2011, Cristian was honored with the Champions of Change Award by Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, a member of the YouthActionNet® Global Network.
Dang launched EcoFire as a social enterprise that develops technological solutions to address urgent health and environmental issues in low-income communities in Vietnam. Central to its work is the sale of Eco Carbon as a renewable fuel produced from agricultural waste (e.g., rice straw). Eco Carbon offers a safe and economical substitute to the burning of traditional coal, producing 50 percent fewer toxic emissions. It not only costs 20 percent less, but burns 20 percent longer. In addition to producing greener energy and contributing to improved health, EcoFire tackles the issue of poor management of agricultural waste in rural areas.