T‑Mobile and the T‑Mobile Foundation to Fund Big Ideas from Young Trailblazers

The third Changemaker Challenge, a nationwide contest that gives trailblazing young leaders the opportunity to take their ideas on how to build more connected, sustainable and informed communities to the next level, launched today by T-Mobile, the T-Mobile Foundation and Ashoka. Now through April 8, 2021, youth ages 13 to 18 with bold ideas focused on Technology, the Environment or Education can enter the challenge. T-Mobile leaders will select 15 winners to receive up to $15,000 in seed funding and the opportunity to participate in the three-day Changemaker Lab later this year. Including this third year of support, T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation have invested nearly $1M in seed funding and mentorship for the changemakers.

“T-Mobile knows a thing or two about disruption and affecting change – and that’s why we can’t wait to once again help these forward-thinking youth grow their innovative, amazing ideas through our third Changemaker Challenge,” said T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert. “We can all take inspiration from today’s youth. They are living and breathing so many of the challenges our society is facing right this moment, but they’ve got big ideas for how we can be better. With a little support, I know these young, passionate changemakers will do amazing things to positively impact their communities for years to come.”

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Here’s how it works:

  • Through April 8, youth can enter the Challenge at the Changemaker Challenge contest website.
  • Teams who enter prior to March 4 have the chance to receive one $2,000 early deadline seed money award. All entries submitted by March 4 will get feedback on how to improve their application so they can resubmit by the final April 8 deadline.
  • In May, the top 15 teams – five from each of the three categories (Technology, the Environment and Education) – will be named and each team will receive $5,000 in seed funding. They will also get an all-expenses-paid trip to T-Mobile’s headquarters later in 2021 for the Changemaker Lab (pending CDC COVID-19 safety recommendations) that will give teams three days of immersive experiences, including mentorship from T-Mobile executives, skills training from Ashoka and networking opportunities with other teams.
  • From the top 15 teams, the best in each category – three teams – will receive an additional $5,000 in seed funding and the chance to pitch their projects to T-Mobile senior leaders.
  • One will be selected as the Grand Prize Winner and will receive another $5,000, plus a 1:1 meeting with a T-Mobile leader for additional guidance on how they can grow their venture. The winning team will receive a total of $15,000 in seed money!

T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation are once again partnering with Ashoka, a global organization that believes in a world where everyone is a changemaker. They have over 40 years building the field of social entrepreneurs and over 20 years of experience supporting young changemakers and their social ventures.

“At Ashoka, we know young people need powerful learning experiences to build empathy, find their purpose, and take the lead,” said Bill Drayton, founder and CEO of Ashoka. “Ashoka is proud to support T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge, pairing leaders in the tech industry with leading youth changemakers—a winning combination to changing the world for good.”

An amazing 770 teams entered the two previous Changemaker Challenges in 2018 and 2019. Projects integrating everything from apps to robots have been focused on solutions around topics such as mental health, the collapse of bee colonies, flood warning systems and gun violence prevention. At the February 2020 Changemaker Lab, Mike Sievert awarded each of the three category winners $10,000 and offered support via one-on-one meetings with T-Mobile leaders and Ashoka experts.

“The T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge was truly a once in a lifetime experience for me,” said Kevin Malaekeh, co-founder and president of Youth Climate Action Coalition, a coalition designed to give schools the tools they need to become more sustainable and the 2019 Changemaker Challenge grand prize winner. “It was inspiring to be surrounded by youth so passionate about what they do. I met some lifelong friends, and we’ve even started our own venture together after the challenge called Project New Normal. The seed money helped my organization secure partnerships with influencers that have helped us grow our social media audience to over 10,000 and reach out to 1.5 million people across the world.”

Individuals and teams ready to supercharge their game-changing ideas can visit the contest website to learn everything they need to know about the 2021 Changemaker Challenge.