Microsoft YouthSpark was developed on the premise that the youth of the world are those who will best be able to drive social change on issues that directly affect them. This has resulted in Microsoft creating several initiatives to promote youth-driven social change and to increase technical awareness among future youth influencers.
One of these initiatives is the Challenge for Change, where young adults between the ages of 18 to 25 are given the challenge to solve a social issue of their choice in their own backyard or across the globe.
Those who participated in Challenge for Change so far have received a small gift from Microsoft, a $25 gift card to Give for Youth, where the Challenge for Change participants were able to put this money to good use through donating to a cause of their choice. Now, with judging over and 20 finalists chosen, these influential young adults have received a Microsoft Surface and Microsoft Office Home and Student Suite 2013.
Microsoft isn’t done yet. It is now your turn to choose who will be among the five grand prize winners of Microsoft Challenge for Change. The grand prize includes the opportunity for the winners to volunteer, all expenses paid, in Kenya August of this year. The winners also get an Xbox 360 with Kinect, a Windows 8 Phone, and the designation as YouthSpark Ambassador 2013.
It isn’t all about the prizes. Microsoft understands the importance of the winners to continue on with their project for social change that allowed them to reach this point. The company will also give the five winners $2500 to further expand their ideas.
You can vote on the Microsoft Citizenship Facebook page from now until June 24th, 2013. The five grand prize winners will be announced the month after. However, before you dive in and vote, here are the 20 finalists that are looking forward to your vote.
The Power of Education
- Zach Lax: Philadelphia school teacher looking to improve teacher training through Teaching is Power. (Ringoes, NJ)
- Odunola Ojewumi: ASCEND hopes to improve women’s access to education in Sub-Saharan Africa. (Beltsville, MD)
- Brian Hickey: Instilling technological skills in Ugandan youth through Engeye Teen Connection. (Loudonville, NY)
The Importance of STEM
- Jaleesa Trapp: Allowing young girls to understand their potential in STEM careers through Girls’ Day. (Tacoma, WA)
- Ximena Purge: Through mentoring, Purge hopes to encourage minority girls to look into STEM. (Miami, FL)
- Temiloluwa Adeniyi: Hopes that a multimedia story can empower young girls that STEM is an option for them through the story being shown in schools across the nation. (Cincinnati, OH)
- Meghan Shea: Minds Matter allows youth to grow their love of scientific research. (West Chester, PA)
- Karen Mok: Mok’s unique initiative hopes to foster digital usage among women and girls in the Greek Roma community. (San Francisco, CA)
- Misikir Mentose: StartingX promotes self-learning courses on technology among youth. (La Mesa, CA)
Design and Art + Technology
- De Andrea Nichols: Allowing companies and individuals to address social changes through design methodologies with Design Serves. (Memphis, TN)
- Claire Mongeau: Teaching Indian children digital art techniques through a computer creativity lab. (Somerville, MA)
Instilling Leadership in Youth
- Jessica Lynn Lane: Project I/E instills teaching youth leadership skills. (Pullman, WA)
- Adam Dunn: Triangle Youth Leadership Services hopes to create workshops for high schoolers to allow for the development of solutions to community issues. (Apex, NC)
- Christina Ong: Ong believes that the development of a Global Peace curriculum can spark action among youth to promote change. (Sacramento, CA)
- Sneha Jayaprakas: Bringing the benefits and lessons of good deeds promoted in a mobile game to reality. (Fremont, CA)
Improving Health Care
- Gin Cheng: Mobile app hopes to improve health care access for the underprivileged. (Brooklyn, NY)
- Audrey Scagnelli: College & Cook is a magazine about global food security. (Washington, DC)
- Bryan Ngo: Cancer education and advocacy for kids battling the disease through the Red Beanie Society. (Newport Beach, CA)
- Swetha Pasala: MEDSchem was created to ensure that impoverished communities have pertinent medical devices. (Herndon, VA)
- Morgan Brand: 100 Hours of Action was designed to combat the growing problem of childhood obesity. (Washington, DC)
Let us know in the comments below how, if you were given the chance, would you inspire change in social issues among youth today. You can view finalist videos here.