Ashoka Young Changemakers - FAQs

Here are the answers to some of FAQs from candidates and nominators who are interested in the joining the Ashoka Young Changemakers network
Story bubbles on world map
Source: Ashoka

1. What is the criteria for applying? 

Our detailed Selection Criteria is available on the About AYC page. For a quick litmus test, you can use the following checklist to see if you are eligible: 

  • I am between 13 and 20 years of age

  • I am a resident of the country I have applied to

  • I am the founder/co-founder of an impactful initiative

  • I have built a team and am working with allies/partners

  • I have already created impact in my community

Note: This is a simplified checklist, passing this does not guarantee a call-back from the team. Due to high volume of application, we are able to call back only those candidates who have a strong case for being elected as Ashoka Young Changemakers. 

2. What is the age limit to become an Ashoka Young Changemaker? 

  • Candidates must be between 13 and 20 years of age

  • The minimum age at the time of submitting the nomination form is 13 years

  • The maximum age at the time of the Selection Panel is 20 years

  • For selection panels happening in 2020, only candidates born on or after 1st Jan, 2000 will be considered

3. I am not 13 years old yet, can I still apply to join Ashoka? 

Candidates who are 12 years or younger may be considered on special cases depending on the legal restrictions in your country. Please request your parent/guardian to write us an email to see if we will be able to consider your nomination: [email protected]

Please do NOT submit a nomination form or a self-nomination. We cannot store or process sensitive information like name, contact etc. of young people below the age of 13 for selection to Ashoka Young Changemakers. 

4. I don’t live in one of the listed countries, can I still apply? 

Ashoka Young Changemakers is a select network of young people who are able and willing to be co-leaders of the Everyone a Changemaker movement. Selecting and engaging AYCers requires availability of resources, relevant partnerships, and a strong country-wide community of changemakers working in different sectors that AYCers can benefit from being a part of. Therefore, we are unable to elect AYCers outside the listed countries.

However, there may be other youth-related opportunity offered by the Ashoka team and our network of Ashoka Fellows in your country. Please reach out to your Country office, follow them on social media, or view our Events section to stay updated on relevant opportunities. You can find the contact details and social media handles at the footer section of the website.

You could also subscribe to our international LeadYoung Newsletter to receive updates about AYC launch in more countries, and other opportunities for young people. 

5. Can I apply to the AYC programme in another country? 

We do not accept nominations for candidates who are not residents of the country they are applying to. We do consider refugees and individuals on Student or other long term Visa permits on case-by-case basis. You need to be certain that you will be a resident of the country for at least one year after the Selection Panel. You will lose out on many of the benefits that being an Ashoka Young Changemaker has to offer if you are likely to leave the country within a year of election.

6. Can more than one person from the same initiative apply as a team? 

AYC is not an incubator or accelerator program for the venture. We are interested in finding the most powerful and inspirational teenage changemakers in the country. It is a network of individuals who have demonstrated the power of changemaking at a young age and are committed to the good of all. The initiative is a vehicle for demonstrating and honing your changemaker competencies. Therefore we only consider individual candidates, not teams.

7. Is there a difference between self-nominating and being nominated by someone? 

In cases where candidates are nominated by an existing Ashoka network member - Ashoka Fellows, Young Changemakers, Changemakers Schools, partner organisations etc. we consider their case on fast-track and try our best to arrange a call back, provided they fit the criteria.

In all other cases, we consider nominations equally and do not discriminate between candidates based purely on whether they nominated themselves or were nominated by someone else. 

8. Are there any costs associated with participating in AYC? 

There are no fees or other charges to be paid to Ashoka. Moreover, we provide travel assistance and reimbursements for young people who are attending the Selection Panel or other Ashoka events. This is to ensure financial constraints do not restrict strong candidates from becoming full members of the global Ashoka community.

9. I only have an idea, how can I be a part of Ashoka? 

Please subscribe to our newsletter to receive monthly updates, inspiring stories of young changemakers and other relevant opportunities from Ashoka. 

10. My initiative is at an early stage, how can I be a part of Ashoka? 

Typically, Ashoka Young Changemakers who reach Panel stage of selection have been working actively on their initiative for a minimum of 6 months or longer. They are also at a mature stage where they are looking to take on the next big challenge in their journey and so are able to play a co-leadership role beyond the confines of their current initiative. 

If you are still in the first few months of your initiative, there are a series of challenges you might face as you continue and expand your work.  We encourage you to learn from the experiences and creative techniques of other young people who have been through that stage before. You can find such stories in the ‘First Steps’ blog series created by Manat, an Ashoka Young Changemaker from the US.

11. I don’t have an initiative of my own, I volunteer with another organisation. Am I eligible? 

We do not consider candidates who have not had the experience of having an idea, building a team, and creating impact. There are many volunteering opportunities, challenges, and educational programmes where you can experience this in a structured way and get started on your changemaking journey. However, your changemaker competencies are much higher when you are trying to do it independently - which means dealing with a greater deal of ambiguity and creating new opportunities where they did not exist before.

We encourage you to take inspiration from Ashoka’s community of changemakers and social entrepreneurs to launch your own impactful initiative - one that also positively impacts you as a person and your ability to lead change.

12. I have an initative, but I don’t have a dedicated team working with me. Am I eligible?  

It takes entrepreneurial ability and deep conviction to excite and convince young people to work with you as committed core team members in your venture. Leading such a team of young people also requires empathy and sophisticated teamwork competencies.In case you haven’t already been able to build a core team of peers, this would be the most logical step for you to take in advancing your work and impact.

Currently, we are unable to consider candidates who do not have this experience of building a core team. We encourage you to take this step and consider applying for Ashoka’s programs further ahead in your journey. 

13. I have multiple initiatives, which one do I provide in the nomination form? 

Candidates who started their changemaking journey early on are likely to have had a couple or more initiatives over the years. Almost all of our AYCers who are 18 and above have had prior changemaking initiatives and are applying the learnings from them in their current initiative. 

We encourage nominators and self-nominating candidates to mention prior initiatives and projects under the last question on the form -  “Any other things you want us to know?” 

If you have multiple initiatives currently active, please choose the one that you are deeply connected to and are confident that you will be attached to in the long-term. 

14. Are there any deadlines to submit nominations? 

Nominations are open round-the-year. However, please submit nominations within the priority deadlines to be considered for upcoming selection panels. You can find announcements regarding priority deadlines on the website and Ashoka Young Changemakers social media channels. 

15. What happens after I submit my nomination form? 

Once the form is submitted, you receive a message on your screen to confirm your submission. The AYC Team in your country will review the application based on the criteria. If selected for the next round - National Review - then the team will reach out to you over email to schedule calls. In some cases, the team might reach out to you for an introductory call to collect more information before deciding on promoting your candidatcy to National Review stage. 

16.I did not receive a confirmation email after submitting my form, should I be worried? 

Once you submit the form, you should see a ‘Thank you’ message on the screen. You may not receive a confirmation email. In case you didn't see a Thank you message, kindly refill the form. 

17.I’ve submitted my nomination form, when can I expect to hear from the Ashoka team? 

Due to the high volume of nominations, we are unable to provide feedback to all candidates. Only the candidates who are selected for the National Review round can expect to receive email communication from our team. Generally candidates who apply closer to the priority deadline receive communication from our team within a few weeks. Nominations that are received outside of the priority deadline are reviewed only during the Panel selection timeline and so even the strong candidates may not hear from us for a few months. We might reach out to you for an introductory call if we are in need of further information before deciding on your nomination.

18. What are the different stages in the selection process? 

Ashoka Young Changemakers are selected to a rigorous process that is highly selective and curates effective learning experience for candidates. Here are the different stages of the process: 

  1. Screening - Based on the materials submitted in your Nomination form

  1. National Review - 4 to 5 hours of conversations with Ashoka Country Team 

  1. International Review - 2 to 3 hours of conversations with Senior Leaders and existing Ashoka Young Changemakers from our global network 

  1. Selection Panel - an in-person pitch to an esteemed jury (2 - 3 day event in Washington DC/Sao Paulo/Jakarta/Bangalore/Dhaka/Lagos)

All Selection Panels in 2020 willl be organised online. For candidates considered in 2021, the process may include an additional Board Review stage where Ashoka’s international Board of Directors review candidates recommended by the Selection Panel jury. 

19. How long does the selection process take? 

For candidates who apply within the priority deadline the process takes 3 - 4 months. From the date of the priority deadline to the date of public announcement of results, the process can take 5 - 6 months or longer. 

20. What happens at the Selection Panel? 

During the Selection Panel, candidates make an in-person pitch to an esteemed jury consisting of 3 -5 entrepreneurs and senior leaders from government, media, education systems, and philanthropies. Each candidate is expected to present their changemaking journey and their co-leading ideas to the panel in a 10 min pitch followed by 10 - 15 mins of Q&As with the jury. You can use photos and presentations for the pitch. 

Apart from the pitch to the jury, there will be several learning and community activities designed to help you advance your changemaking journey, connect withlike-minded peers and also experiment with different ideas and strategies to co-lead the changemaker movement. Participation in these sessions is madatory. 

21. Is parent/guardian’s consent mandatory for participating in AYC? 

For candidates who are minors in their respective countries (typically under 18), it is mandatory to receive consent from parents/guardians. For candidates who are majors it is not mandatory, but we strongly recommend that you take consent before agreeing to go through the selection process. The age of majority is 21 years in the United States.

22. Can I expect to receive financial assistance from Ashoka for my venture? 

Ashoka Young Changemakers is a co-leadership programme for individuals. While we provide financial assistance to shortlisted candidates to attend the selection panel and other events. We do not provide grants or investments for the venture being presented. 

23. What can I expect to gain if selected as an Ashoka Young Changemaker? 

  • Life-long membership to a select network of powerful young people and social entrepreneurs from various countries. 

  • Invitation to participate in community events and peer learning sessions with other young changemakers and leading social entrepreneurs to help you advance your leadership and changemaking competencies. 

  • Features in different media outlets and opportunities to share your story on reputed platforms and with practitioner groups. 

  • Mentorship and support to implement your ideas to create an ‘Everyone a Changemaker’ culture in your school/community/city. 

  • Opportunities to brainstorm and collaborate with the most influential next generation leaders of your country in various arms of government, media, business, education systems, and philanthropies. 

24. What does being a ‘Co-leader’ of the changemaker movement mean? How can I contribute? 

Ashoka believes in the power of young people to lead the world’s biggest revolutions. In recent history, movements for climate change legislation, gun control, voting & democratic rights have all been led by high school students. Ashoka is advocating for a unique movement that will end the ‘New Inequality’ and give every individual and every community the power to create positive change - for everyone to become changemakers. It is crucial to have powerful young people at the helm of this movement as co-leaders alongside the most influential next generation leaders across sectors in their country and globally. 

Being a Co-leader of the Everyone A Changemaker movement involves taking initiative and building partnerships at your school/community/city to help more people break out of the new inequality and find their own power to create positive change. It also involves working with leaders from government, media, education systems, and philanthropy among other sectors to persuade them and help them use their influence in the most impactful ways. 

25. Are there any examples of how other Ashoka Young Changemakers are co-leading the movement? 

All of our Ashoka Young Changemakers are co-leading the movement through various ideas, initiatives, and partnerships. Here is a collection of some of the most impactful co-leading initiatives launched by our global community: AYCers Co-leading the Changemaker movement.


For further queries, please write to: [email protected]