The Changemaker Challenge Lab is sponsored by T-Mobile Foundation, in partnership with Ashoka. It’s an immersive experience that offers the Changemakers a chance to build skills and a community network to help turn innovative ideas into realities. There are 15 winning Changemaker Challenge teams and they have just arrived at T-Mobile’s Bellevue headquarters for the fourth annual Changemaker Lab. This is such an inspiring and exciting event, and it’s back in person this year! And the winners are being announced Tuesday!
The winning teams have worked so hard on projects that tackle issues such as food insecurity, online privacy, safety, reducing waste with biodegradable food packaging, combatting stereotypes, STEM education, and more. The teams made up of young leaders ages 13 to 18 have been invited to T-Mobile headquarters from July 25th – July 27th!
A Thriving Planet: Changemaker Challenge Winners:
This year, they had a record-breaking number of applicants with incredible content! I love that. There are three project categories: Digital Empowerment, Equity in Action, and Thriving Planet. And the top projects from each of these three categories had the chance to pitch their projects during the Changemaker Lab to senior leadership team members of T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation. The grand prize includes an additional $5,000 in seed funding, for a total of $15,000, to help grow their venture.
As you know, all winning teams receive an all-expenses paid trip to the three-day long Changemaker Lab. And these winning teams get coaching and mentorship, skills, networking opportunities, and seed money to fund their projects. Five winners in each of the three categories are awarded $5,000 each, and one project per category is selected to receive an additional $5,000 seed funding, as well as T-Mobile senior leader pitching opportunities. All around, this is such an inspiring and rewarding event.
I get incredibly inspired, because my oldest turned 13 earlier this month. I love to think about how she can impact the world. You can find out more about the challenge by clicking here, and more about all 15 winning teams by clicking here. And here is a list of the top category winners:
Digital Empowerment – Top Category Winner – Safe Teens Online (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) A global, youth-led peer-to-peer initiative that educates teenagers on online privacy and safety, encouraging inclusivity, safe habits, and emotional well-being.
Equity In Action – Top Category Winner – MiSendero (Santa Barbara, Calif.) MiSendero works to meaningfully integrate Latin American English learners into their school communities by facilitating mutual learning experiences for all students.
Thriving Planet – Top Category Winner – Tobelli (Aurora, Ill.) Biodegradable food packaging that repurposes the cellulose found in tobacco to create a thin, safe material to help reduce waste.
Thriving Planet – Top Category Winner:
I am inspired by ALL of these teams, but Tobelli really resonates with me. The project is biodegradable food packaging that repurposes the cellulose found in tobacco to create a thin, safe material to help reduce waste. The aim is to repurpose the tobacco plant, while also combating food waste with a nicotine-free biodegradable food packaging innovation. It aids in the storage of food, but also in preservation.
There is so much thought put into this project! I especially loved reading about the different layers and functions of the innovation. I love the problem solving aspects of it. They really did their research.
Tobacco is a widespread crop, but smoking rates have been on the decline (which is GREAT). That being said, the crop helps farmers, especially those in low-income countries who need to earn money. Yet there’s a harmful impact of smoking, not only to the health of smokers, but to the environment since cigarette butts contribute 1.69 billion lbs of toxic waste yearly.
Tobelli would use the entirety of the tobacco plant, instead of only leaves, and effectively utilize cellulose from the whole plant. It would be a biodegradable and eco-friendly choice for also keeping food fresh. There is so much more to love, but I’ll let you read more about this inspirational project on your own!