As Gen Z enters the workforce, Steelcase’s Julia Huebner on why “corporations versus social change” is outdated

In just a few years, Generation Z — usually defined as those born after 1996 — could make up a quarter of the global workforce. Most Gen Z respondents said in a US survey that it’s important for them to work for a company that allows them to make a difference and aligns with their social values. But what does this look like?

At the furniture manufacturer and Ashoka partner Steelcase, 23-year-old Julia Huebner works at the intersection of marketing, design, and innovation as part of a two-year rotational program. …


‘Gbenga Sesan on building civic power and defending digital rights & inclusion across the African continent

Nigeria instituted an indefinite Twitter ban nation-wide on June 4, threatening “prosecution of offenders,” after Twitter deleted a violence-inciting tweet by Nigerian President Buhari. Some believe this most recent move could be a precursor to further democratic clampdowns and internet shutdowns — a practice used in 29 countries last year to silence protests, sway elections or hide human rights violations.

As the clash between nation states and “cloud nations” intensifies, regular citizens are stepping up to defend democratic norms. Ashoka’s Julia Kloiber spoke with Ashoka Fellow ‘Gbenga Sesan, founder of Paradigm HQ about building civic power and defending digital…


Dr. Akkai Padmashali on building a gender equal world

Recent years have seen far more visibility for Trans* people in media & politics in many parts of the world. But as we know from changemakers working in this area, visibility has yet to translate fully into liberation & full citizenship.

Ashoka’s Nico Pablo spoke with Dr. Akkai Padmashali about her approach to building a world that works for all of us. As co-founder of Ondede, she has been trailblazing new paths for India’s sexual minorities to lead change and build political power. In this conversation, she reflected on the advances made over the last 25 years and spoke about…


Mary Gordon on the pitfalls of academic testing, and what parents can do

In Roots of Empathy classrooms around the world, babies like this little person are the “teachers.” Parent-child pairs visit classrooms where they help older children (ages 5–13) develop and practice empathy — by tuning into the baby’s unspoken needs and feelings. (Photo from pre-Covid, pre-masks.)

For more than 25 years, Roots of Empathy founder Mary Gordon has been helping us see the power of empathy as a foundational skill for all children, and by extension, all adults. Mary is an educator, author, child advocate, parenting expert, and founder of Roots of Empathy, a Toronto-based organization with a global reach. She is also an Ashoka Fellow of 20 years — one of the first Canadian social entrepreneurs to be named a Fellow, back in 2001!

Konstanze Frischen, Ashoka’s North America leader, spoke with Mary this week about empathy in the pandemic, what young children are feeling…


A young nonprofit co-founder offers her advice

Addy and her teammates deliver a presentation in 2015

By Addy Battel

How do you tell the story behind your social change project to secure funding? Whether you’re shooting for a large grant, or for small pools of funding from community organizations, this skill is an essential one.

As a young changemaker, I’ve been working on how to effectively present the story of my nonprofit since our founding. Our nonprofit, Meating the Need for Our Village, is a hunger relief organization in the U.S. state of Michigan that empowers young people to bring high quality sources of protein to local food pantries. …


A young changemaker’s story of empathy, courage, and teaming up

Dola is an Ashoka Young Changemaker

Every minute, 23 girls under the age of 18 are married around the world, and the numbers have been rising during the pandemic. In Bangladesh, 50 percent of girls face this fate.

Meanwhile, many are working to end the practice of child marriage. Dola, an Ashoka young changemaker from Bangladesh, is one of them. When she was 10, she asked her mother to share a fond childhood memory with her for a school assignment. Her mother — who was married at 13 — was unable to find one, because her childhood had been cut short.


A deeper conversation on creating a future that actually works

By Marlene Leiss

Today’s youth will inherit two generation-defining crises: mass unemployment and climate change. But right now, our education systems largely fail to prepare young people for the jobs of the 21st century, and the Covid-19 pandemic only compounds the issue. Add to that climate change, which will force the youth of today to live in a world of extremes, change and environmental crises that we struggle to imagine.

In the face of all this, how do we build a future that works? We brought together several experts — Ashoka Fellow Sue Riddlestone, Co-Founder and CEO of Bioregional


Why decentralized approaches, long-term thinking and tough questions are key

Ashoka Fellows worldwide are working on systemic responses to the pandemic. As the crisis has deepened in India, many social entrepreneurs shifted to urgent responses that ranged from decentralizing supply chains for oxygen & other life-essentials, to addressing mental health & care gaps, and expanding vaccine access.

Ashoka’s Manmeet Mehta spoke with Fellows Anshu Gupta, Ashwin Naik and Priti Krishtel to hear about the crises — both visible and hidden— that Indian changemakers are working to address, and what’s ahead. You can listen to the full conversation here. Here are a few highlights:

Looking beyond the headlines

Anshu Gupta and the team at Goonj


Serena Borghero of the manufacturer Steelcase, on how businesses can make an impact

A leading manufacturer of furniture for offices, hospitals, and classrooms, Steelcase uses innovative research to design workspaces. Three years into Ashoka’s partnership with Steelcase, we’ve learned that the company’s take on innovation goes far beyond furniture.

We met with Serena Borghero, Director Media Relations EMEA at Steelcase, to share insights for any business can and should play a role in social impact. Serena makes the case for tearing down the walls that still exists between companies and non-profits, between social entrepreneurs and business leaders so we can all work towards a better world . Watch the full conversation here.

Serena, what led you to be an ambassador for social change?

I’ve…


Why we design competitions for community — and other insights from 15+ years of hosting Challenges.

As we experienced crisis after crisis in the last year, institutions needed to innovate faster than ever. Governments, universities, and companies invited the public to help solve pressing problems — like innovating rapid Covid-19 testing — and rewarded the best solutions with prizes.

These competitions aren’t new. Going back centuries, innovation competitions have led to societal breakthroughs. Over 300 years ago, Britain offered the 20,000-pound Longitude Prize to whoever could figure out how to keep time on the sea. Napoleon launched a food preservation prize in 1795 that led to the invention of canned food.

In the 21st century, online…

Ashoka

We bring together social entrepreneurs, educators, businesses, parents & youth to support a world in which everyone is equipped & empowered to be a changemaker.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store