Everyone a Changemaker™ Week is a wrap. Ashoka's first EACH Week took place during the last week of July, a “historic moment” for the 30-year-old citizen sector organization.
Bill Drayton, Ashoka's founder and CEO, believes we can do better — to protect our planet, our ways of life and our cultures. But it's going to take a collective effort.
“The world is changing—faster than ever before—from a world run by elites to a world in which everyone can and must drive change. In that world, success depends on one’s ability to both lead and to collaborate, to see beyond silos, adopt new perspectives, and to problem-solve.”
And so, a handful of Ashoka's programs — the Empathy Initiative, Youth Venture, Ashoka U, Ashoka U.S., and Ashoka Diaspora — worked to get people involved at every stage of the social change lifecycle, from the elementary school student to the grizzled entrepreneur in the field.
Here's a quick rundown of what you may have missed, along with a few ways you can make a difference.
1. Teaching Children Empathy— Mission Possible for Schools
Ashoka’s Empathy Initiative seeks to create a world where every child masters empathy. During Everyone a Changemaker Week we brought together five elementary schools that are committed to equipping children to become changemakers, starting with the mastery of social-emotional skills, including empathy. We envision the network of elementary schools that commit to this vision can demonstrate how schools can build systems where children are empathetic changemakers in our society.
And while we're on the subject, here are six tips for how to cultivate empathy in your school.
—Danielle Goldstone, director of Ashoka's Empathy Initiative
2. Changemaking from a Young Age—Youth Venture Summit
The Youth Venture Summit was an opportunity for youth to gather together for changemaking skill-building and networking. In addition to building upon their ventures or starting new ones, it's a moment of reflection upon a young person's role in the world of social change. The event had a record breaking number of participants — 180 youth and adults, and, for the first time incorporated a venture pitch-off for six young grand finalists from the Banking On Youth Competition.
We believe that encouragement and guidance are two of the greatest gifts you can give young entrepreneurs, because, as Bill Drayton has said, “The biggest risk today is being part of the old world.”
—Romina Laouri, global Youth Venture Fellowship manager
3. Social Innovation for Higher Education— Making the Case
The vision behind the Influencer Event, sponsored by the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, was to make the case of social innovation as a significant lever for the relevancy of higher education; an antidote to the decline of public confidence in the outcomes of higher learning. Many claim that colleges and universities are becoming obsolete, but higher education may be our best bet for empowering society to innovate at the rate the world is changing.
Emerging models of university-based social innovation are addressing some of the rising concerns about higher education’s relevance. To achieve large-scale adoption of social innovation as a core value, we must ignite a systemic shift in higher education to overcome the many structural barriers, and support colleges and universities committed to positive social impact.
By bringing together a high caliber group of influential leaders in higher education to discuss how social innovation can be relevant for the education system, Ashoka U promoted changemaking as a force for personal and social transformation and as an approach to innovation for colleges and universities
—Michele Leaman, change manager at Ashoka U
4. Supporting Exemplary Gamechangers
The U.S. Panel (any country-specific or global fellow selection panel) is a part of Ashoka's process where the candidates for the Ashoka Fellowship have a chance to present their unique approach to solving social problems to peers and experts. To ensure cross-pollination of ideas, the U.S. team hosts a reception during the panel week, which gives the candidates an opportunity to meet one another as well as thought leaders in their fields, investors and existing Ashoka Fellows.
The selection of Ashoka Fellows is at the heart of Ashoka's work, ensuring that high-impact social innovators find the support needed to propel their ideas to a bigger scale. Panel is the final stage of that process, and, thus, marks the moment where new ideas and thought-leaders are joined to the network, broadening the impact of the Fellowship and the understanding of the social issues that are most dire. This is key to reach Ashoka's overall vision of a world where everyone has the ability and the freedom to act as a Changemaker, because the Fellows are at the forefront of our movement; ensuring that the vision is rooted in the most innovative high-impact solutions to fix broken systems everywhere.
We're delighted to welcome these U.S.-based leading social entrepreneurs to Ashoka:
- Alex Bernadotte – Education
- Will Byrne – Environment
- Sasha Chanoff – Human Rights
- Louise Davis Langheier – Health
- Zoe Finch Totten – Health
- Mitch Hedlund – Environment
—Hanae Baruchel, venture coordinator at Ashoka U.S.
Note: Ashoka Changemakers is an online global community of action through which we enable collaboration to identify, track, and accelerate cutting-edge innovations.
5. Diaspora's Capacity to Impact Change — Ashoka's Diaspora Initiative at the Global Diaspora Forum
Ashoka participated in the Global Diaspora Forum, hosted by the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development and other partners. We introduced Ashoka's Global Diaspora Initiative and co-organized a panel to lead a discussion on the role of diaspora changemakers in creating and supporting social change back home — diaspora communities are at the forefront of innovative problem-solving and are the most willing to take risks to empower and improve their country of origin.
This event brought together a broad audience, including leaders and representatives of diaspora communities, the private sector, government agencies, foundations, academia, among others to discuss partnerships designed to produce sustainable, effective solutions around the world.
—Maria Clara Pinheiro, change leader at Ashoka