T-Mobile, the T-Mobile Foundation and nonprofit Ashoka kicked off the second-annual T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge, a nationwide contest to mobilize the next generation of youth who are ready to create positive change in their communities.
Through Sept. 26, youth teams can enter the challenge by submitting a project that drives social change in one of three categories: Technology, the environment or education.
Winners selected by senior leaders from T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation will receive seed funding and a three-day Changemaker Lab experience in Bellevue, Wash., to help take their projects to the next level.
In November, T-Mobile will announce the Top 30 teams — 10 from each of the three categories. Each team will receive seed funding and an all-expenses-paid trip to T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Wash., headquarters in December for the Changemaker Lab, a three-day immersive experience in which teams will receive mentorship from T-Mobile executives, skills training from Ashoka and network opportunities with other amazing teams.
From the top 30 teams, the best in each of the three categories will receive additional seed funding and the opportunity to pitch their projects to senior leadership teams of T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation.
From the three category finalist teams, one grand prize winner will receive more seed funding and a second all-expenses-paid trip back to T-Mobile’s HQ for further hands-on mentorship to continue supercharging their ideas.
Last year, T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation provided $60,000 in seed funding to help 30 top teams fast-track their world-changing ideas. T-Mobile CEO John Legere liked some of the ideas so much, he selected six teams as his own personal CEO Picks and donated another $30,000 out of his own pocket.
One of those CEO Picks was 24-year-old grand-prize winner J.I. Cruz, who submitted a project called “Dios del Sol” focused on delivering solar power to storm-threatened rural communities in Puerto Rico.
“Participating in the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge gave me the confidence I needed to understand I had an idea worth fighting for at a time that was critical for my community,” Cruz said.
This community-led initiative would use partnerships with faith-based organizations, Puerto Rican solar energy associations and volunteer s to help churches finance, transition to, and ultimately manage solar microgrids. These microgrids would feed the greater grid with a surplus, but still function independently — if needed — to serve local communities in times of crisis.