Youth Venture Students Make Their Dreams of Social Justice a Reality

GV students working with Youth Venture presented their ideas for creating social change. Photo courtesy of Ashoka Seattle.

Standing before a panel of judges, an inspiring group of Global Visionaries students presented seven social venture proposals at The University of Washington on March 19, 2011.

These students grouped together and collaborated with Youth Venture, one of GV’s partner organizations, to create business propositions addressing social injustices affecting people both locally and internationally.

If approved by the 15 member panel, these propositions, called “ventures,” will be awarded the funding, guidance, tools and support necessary to make their ideas into a reality.

The presentations served as the culminating project closing out the series of workshops these students have been doing through Youth Venture since November.

Though all seven proposals were approved by the panel, two were accepted unconditionally and were noted as exceptional.  These outstanding projects were presented by Koji Pingry and Chetan Chandrashekar, both students at Nathan Hale High School.

Koji’s proposal, Water First, focuses on educating fellow Nathan Hale students about the importance of having access to clean drinking water and toilets. Koji was inspired by the Seattle-based nonprofit organization, Water 1st International. According to their website, the lack of safe water and toilets is the direct cause for the death of more children each year than wars, earthquakes, Malaria, HIV, or tuberculosis combined.

As a result of Koji’s passion for social change, a unit on “water awareness” will now be incorporated into the freshman year curriculum at Nathan Hale High School.

This new program will require students to work in their classrooms to develop “asks,” in which they will seek monetary contributions from investors who are interested in donating to Water 1st International’s cause.

Koji’s goal is to raise a minimum of $2,000 a year.

In addition to implementing water awareness into his school’s curriculum, Koji has designed a fundraising program where participants must walk five kilometers carrying five gallons of water. Chris Kosednar, Program Associate at Ashoka’s Youth Venture Seattle, says the purpose of this exercise is to simulate the life experiences of some people around the world.

“This is significant because five kilometers is the average distance that a person has to walk to get clean drinking water,” Kosednar said.

More information about the fundraiser will be available at a later date.

The second of the outstanding projects, Café Arbenz, was presented by Chetan Chandrashekar.  Café Arbenz promotes general awareness about the coffee trading industry in South America and the difficulties facing producers down there. The project aims to educate local community members and provide them with accessible fair trade coffee at affordable rates.

Chetan will work closely with local farmers markets to set up booths that will promote awareness and sell fair trade coffee to consumers at reasonable rates. All of the coffee sold through Global Visionaries will come directly from Espresso de Esperanza, a Guatemalan youth-run business located outside of Antigua that roasts and exports the coffee.

Espresso de Esperanza is part of the seven-family San Miguel Cooperative, a partner of Global Visionaries in the fight to end economic oppression.

The five additional teams were all commended by the panel for their projects and will each receive funding following minor adjustments. These other projects include:

Learn2Build, by Brennan Freed, will be a computer club at Chief Sealth High School. The group will use recycled computer parts to rebuild computers that will be redistributed to students who could not afford one otherwise.

Good Cheer, presented by Nicolas Schneider, is designed to raise awareness about the need for food at a Whidbey Island food bank.

What About Now, by Elizabeth Chan, will promote huger awareness by engaging students in a 24-hour fast and sleepover at her school. The event will be followed by a school-wide assembly that will discuss international hunger. Elizabeth will sell bracelets to raise money that will be donated to an international hunger group.

Local Expansion, presented by Devin Nolet, will raise awareness about fair trade coffee in Guatemala. He plans to take a group of Starbucks employees on a trip to Guatemala to visit coffee co-ops in order to develop a better understanding and respect for those who cultivate it.

Composting for the Future, presented by Katie Foutch, is a project aimed at implementing a composting program at the Secondary Bilingual Orientation Center.

Sandra Ordonez, GV’s Assistant Program Manager and the Youth Venture Coordinator, commended all of the participants in the event.

“It was an amazing and inspiring day, seeing all of them speak with confidence and answering the panel questions with thought, knowledge and intelligence,” Sandra said. “The Executive Director of Youth Venture Seattle complimented all of our teams and thanked us for being involved.”


2 thoughts on “Youth Venture Students Make Their Dreams of Social Justice a Reality”

  1. Thank you, Global Visionaries, for helping tap into and channel these beautiful young adults’ passion for social change!

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment! We definitely believe that these young people are the foundation for social change both now and later. We hope you keep returning to our blog for future news updates.

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