Over the last 20 years, Ashoka has supported half a million young changemakers to launch social ventures in their communities. This grew out of a pattern we saw within our global fellowship of social entrepreneurs: the vast majority of those who work with young people put them in charge.
What would our schools, communities, and world look like if everyone felt this agency to create change from an early age? What would it take for us to build a world where everyone is powerful?
We are at a historic moment: the world is changing, and everyone must be equipped with a new set of skills and competencies to thrive in this world. This shift needs creative, ambitious partners who are resolved in their commitment to changing the way young people grow up. That is why we are thrilled to announce our partnership with The INKEY List.
The Power of Partnerships:
The INKEY List, or INKEY, is an innovative skincare company with leading skincare experts that launched in the United Kingdom in 2018. However, INKEY is more than a skincare company – the team was born from the belief that better knowledge powers better decisions. Challenging conventional ways of business, INKEY is reimagining their industry by equipping consumers with accessible tools, direct advice, and creditable expertise to make informed decisions.
Through unifying the strengths, networks, and values of both Ashoka and The INKEY List, we are embarking on a shared vision: empower positive change through knowledge. We aspire to equip 500,000 young people in the United Kingdom, United States, and beyond with the skills and confidence they need to be changemakers and ignite that spark with others.
Ashoka UK and Ireland Director, Nikki Gravning, shares, “INKEY embodies a changemaker mindset through and through. From the care they put into sustainability, to the knowledge they empower customers with, they live and breathe the belief that knowledge powers change. We could not be prouder to partner with INKEY for positive social change.”
This bold vision will be achieved through engaging educators, parents, and young people with new information, knowledge, and tools they can apply in their classrooms, their homes, and in their daily lives to practice changemaking. Nikki Gravning states: “We must ensure that the systems surrounding young people – and the parents and educators that support young people – prioritize changemaking.”
Youth in Charge:
As we seek ways to grow this movement, it is vital that we recognize young people as co-leaders of this work. At the heart of this partnership and vision are young changemakers from the United Kingdom and the United States who embody the core principles of changemaking and are interwoven into the fabric of the partnership, starting with the “Knowledge Powers Change” campaign.
INKEY is launching a digital campaign to kick-off our collaboration and introduce changemaking to young people around the world. At the core of the campaign is Rekindle, a school designed and led by young people.
Rekindle is on a mission to rekindle a love of education in young people for students “no one really expects to adore education, for students who the regular systems fail, rather than feeds.” Ashoka Fellow Ruth Ibegbuna imagined this unique supplementary school. A former teacher and leading social entrepreneur, Ruth is an expert in encouraging young people to believe in their inherent abilities and to demand the best for themselves and their lives. Today the school is led by an active, young management group from South Manchester all aged between 17-24. Ruth serves as an advisor for the Rekindle leadership team.
“Rekindle is a powerful group of Manchester young people striving for change in the educational space, they're collaborating to create the school they wished they'd attended. Inspiring young changemakers, now powerfully partnered with both Ashoka and Inkey, in seeking a better, more equitable world” says Ruth.
Ashoka connected INKEY to Ruth and the Rekindle team to exemplify what it means to put young people in charge and to be the first recipient of the INKEY Impact Fund. This fund is run by young people and for young people. The Fund will partner with teams, organizations, and schools, and has a goal of reaching 500,000 young changemakers by 2024.
As the first partner of the Fund, Rekindle will receive financial support from the sales of the INKEY Changemaker Kit, a curated package of skincare products with all proceeds going directly to Rekindle. “The organisational support and amplification of Rekindle's message is crucial in providing the connections, commitment and most importantly, absolute belief in them as credible societal changemakers” says Ruth. This support enables the ambitious team behind Rekindle to activate more changemakers by immediately incorporating changemaking into their curriculum and collaborating with Ashoka on the larger partnership, such as developing resources for educators and schools to adopt this framework and mindset into their classrooms.
Jaiden, a young changemaker from Manchester, UK is both a team member of Rekindle and a young change leader at Ashoka and is playing an active role in designing the framework around the campaign. He reflects, “Knowledge is the provider of hope, education is in need of change. Young people can fall in love with the power of knowledge but the system of education is built against so many. Rekindle hope to change that by providing knowledge and education that reignite a passion for learning.”
Cara, another Rekindle team member, emphasizes the idea of falling in love with knowledge. She believes Rekindle can accomplish this goal as they “support, nurture, and protect our young people and help them to think critically and achieve.”
Activating the Next Generation of Changemakers:
Together, Ashoka and INKEY are activating the next generation of changemakers alongside Ashoka Fellows and youth-led organizations like Rekindle. Rekindle team member, Roukagia, states it best, “Being a changemaker means I can challenge and break down the status quo, in a creative way, to raise awareness about how the current state education system makes pupils from [communities of color] and lower socioeconomic backgrounds fall out of love with education.”
In addition to the Knowledge Powers Change campaign and Impact Fund, Ashoka is crowdsourcing and developing the knowledge necessary to catalyze widespread adoption of changemaking. For example, we are building a changemaker education framework, with the tools, stories, and examples necessary to make this knowledge accessible and replicable in schools across the United States and the United Kingdom.
And, with more Ashoka Fellow involvement and youth engagement to come, we are one step closer to reimagining the way young people grow up. With nearly two decades of experience enabling young people to lead, Executive Director of Ashoka Youth Venture in the US Tia Johnson Brown shares, “Knowledge is the first step in becoming a changemaker. We must first educate ourselves, think creatively to solve a problem, and then take action. Knowledge powers changemakers!”