Teen Girl Moguls & Social Entrepreneurs: What’s Your Story?

youthserviceamericaJune 6, 2009 Calling all ‘young people who rock’ between the ages of 14-17…this is the final week to START to tell your tales in ‘Girls Helping Girls’ style (by June 15 to begin submissions, June 30 to finish them) to vy for the Youth Service America Gladys Coccia Award.

Who is Gladys Marinelli Coccia? What’s her story? Let’s just say anyone who became a business woman at 15 years old and continued her entrepreneurial work until 93, when she recently passed away is aces in my book.

Turns out she was the grandma of one of the YSA.org Board Members who created this $2000 cash award in her honor to encourage young girls to take the challenge and achieve positive social change, measuring their success through their social impact.

Sooooo…Project Global Cooling green gals? Teens Turning Green? Girls For A Change? Gamers & DigiGirlz? YWCA teens? Respect Rx gals? Girls Lead Now finance femmes? GMS innovators? Readergirlz? Ashoka Youth Venture teens? Hardy Girls, Healthy Women? ANY of you who have created an entrepreneurial venture to serve the common good then you have a shot at this YSA award…

ghglogoAs for the Gladys Marinelli Coccia Award specifics, check here to see if your entrepreneurial venture qualifies.

If you’re eligible by the cutoff date for ages and requirements, the award itself looks like a fabulous opportunity to pay it forward out there…

Specifically, the Gladys Coccia YSA award offers:

  • $2000 for the social enterprise
  • Travel and registration to YSA’s Youth Service Institute
  • Serve as a spokesperson for YSA’s initiatives
  • Invitation to serve on the executive board of Girls Helping Girls
  • Access to YSA’s resources to support and expand social enterprise

You remember when I wrote about Girls Helping Girls and amazing teen change agent Sejal Hathi’s global venture?

Well, here’s more about Sejal sharing some of her know-how via this change.org interview with James Bach.

Empowering girls globally while keeping up with her classes at high school…gee, no sweat, right?

Here’s a brief snippet of Sejal Hathi’s inspiring interview with James:

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your work as a social entrepreneur?

Sejal Hathi: The power of people, of a team and of networking are one of the most significant lessons I have gained since founding Girls Helping Girls: without a team to focus on specific aspects of an organization, like fundraising or website development or outreach or internal development, it is nearly impossible to craft and evolve a dynamic and holistically successful program.

One person cannot accomplish everything, and a cohesive team of dedicated and responsible individuals is an indispensable ingredient to transitioning from idea to implementation, and then from birth to sustainable growth.

Yet even after a team is assembled, I have learned that we should always be reaching out to potential partners, supporters, and sponsors to continue to raise awareness about our cause and ensure its relevance and significance to the public: exposure is crucial, and a web of reliable and supportive and inspiring contacts is certainly no trifling advantage to augmenting wider involvement and staying afloat, especially in these meager economic times.

Why should youth get involved in creating social change?

Sejal Hathi: More than 40 percent of the global population is young people aged 24 and younger, and more than half of this population is located in the developing world. And when poverty, economic crisis, HIV/AIDS strike, it is youth who are most vehemently and irrevocably injured; as from being the first to be ejected from employment and contract HIV/AIDS, to helplessly and haplessly perpetuating the cycle of poverty through illiteracy, drugs, and abuse, youth are suffering and are not being heard or consulted.

Yet it is youth who possess the most innovative and unique perspectives and ideas on how to solve these problems, for they perceive them with more idealism and creativity than adults. Youth connected in the community and have access to multiple networks. Youth have more time on their side, are flexible, and can nurture knowledge and experience and work to change perceptions; they can mobilize quickly, especially using novel technology. Because youth are such a critical population sector, youth activism and engagement is indispensable to creating holistic social change.

What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs or current leaders?

Sejal Hathi: Yes we can. In those timeless words, so exquisitely epitomized by our nation’s recent presidential election and embodied throughout our history, you must seize your own potential and realize that anyone can make a difference. Every day, through your actions and choices, every moment, you are already changing the globe: you are the change that you wish to see in the world already-everyone is-and all you must do is channel your reflections, your talents and passions into something even greater.

Perhaps the most important step is to find a mentor and join a community of people invested in social change and committed to giving back, from whom you can learn and with whom you can exchange ideas: Ashoka-and Youth Venture if you are a young person-are phenomenal networks to find these resources.

I would also highly recommend, if you are a woman or a girl, joining Girls Helping Girls’ Sisters 4 Peace Network for resources and mentorship in getting started.

Ultimately, know that if you believe in yourself, if you confide in a better future, you will create that future: be humble and yet exude confidence in your abilities and the world’s potential to change for the better, and you will create a whole new realm of possibility.

Read more about Sejal Hathi here…and start your app by next week to get it in by June 30, and you may just be able to be on her board and work with her as a change agent yourself!

Teen serial entrepreneur Jessica Mah would’ve fit right in for her helpful InternshipIn cooperative concept, but the cutoff is 17 for high schoolers, and she’s busy making waves at Cal Berkeley now, on her third start-up already since age 15! (pretty amazing when the entrepreneur panel at Ypulse had veteran talent like ‘Whateverlife’ mogul Ashley Qualls who is now at the ripe old age of 23!)

Anyway, Youth Service America has a variety of change agent grants, awards and mini-mogul cash incentives in a wide range of areas, and NOT just for girls…In fact, the Disney ‘Minnie’ grant for a little $500 start up stipend for youth led service projects is also due next week on June 15…geared to a younger crowd, ages 5-14!

genvNeed even more inspiration for your social entrepreneurial ventures? Check out GenV Campaigns.org and the recent Invent Your World Winners (15 years old!) via Ashoka’s Lemelson Award too…The videos and ideas coming out of these teens really DOES represent the marketing of hope for our planet for generations to come!

Good luck to all girls applying for the YSA.org Award!

p.s. Along those lines, here’s one MORE for you from Andrea Stein at GirlMogul.com, who’s seeking ‘Cover Girls’ for her new Girl Mogul Magazine (looks like it’s a $5000 prize, a Mac book and the cover if selected, but a $25 app fee) Deadline for that one is June 19, Friday. Mogul media mania…

Here’s a slideshow about Youth Service America (and here’s a video of Miley Cyrus acknowledging Youth Service America & Disney donating $1 million to the org!)

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