#LeadYoung - Chirag Vedullapalli: Channeling kids’ passions and talents into impact in Seattle, Washington
The transition from the old world of rules, repetition, and hierarchies to one defined by change requires everyone to be a giver, everyone powerful, everyone a changemaker. Chirag’s story shows how to channel the passions and talents of young people into positive social change.
Chirag Vedullapalli was born into a family of entrepreneurs. He describes his mother as a lifelong changemaker who inspires him to always set high goals and keep working towards them. Chirag harnessed that changemaking spirit at age five, when, after selling paintings he created, he found himself wondering, “What do I actually need this money for?” Chirag subsequently donated the proceeds from his paintings to the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Excited by his idea, Chirag coordinated painting parties at his art teacher's home and encouraged his friends to donate, too.
Chirag realized very young that a kid’s passion and talent can be channeled into positive change in the community--just like his experience with art. But he also saw a gap. “There are a lot of volunteer opportunities for kids,” Chirag says, “but not all of these volunteer opportunities engage kids' passions and their talents.”
At age 10, Chirag founded the non-profit Creative Children for Charity, or "3C" to consider how a young person’s passion can be identified and directed toward social change.
"Whatever they're talented in, whatever they enjoy doing, we find an opportunity for them to really use that to make a difference in the community." Since then, 3C has grown into a regional organization thanks to Chirag’s team of youth co-leaders who manage internal organizational strategy, operations, technology, and outreach. Their work has resulted in the donation of over 11,000 volunteer hours benefiting more than 6,500 area youth and over 17 local nonprofits.
One of 3C’s flagship programs, STEAM3D, combines Chirag’s love of the arts with his passionate belief that technology is key for the future. STEAM3D workshops teach students how to operate 3D printers, helping them develop their creativity and discover new talents. Chirag sees how technology can offer both possibilities and challenges for people trying to navigate a rapidly changing world. “When everyone is inspired or empowered to be their own changemaker and solve the problems that they face on a daily basis,” he says, “that’s going to really improve our society, make our community even closer, and develop bonds that we need."
Caroline DelAngelo and Lucy Eills contributed to this story.