New York Times’ Kristoff: Absolutely Anybody Can Be a Changemaker

kristoff New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes: “Changemakers are coming into their own, and it’s a hugely positive trend for the country. Absolutely anybody can be a changemaker.”

From his blog Kristof adds that “. . . social entrepreneurs are having a vast impact . . . Change-makers are coming into their own, and it’s a hugely positive trend for the country. If you’re interested in joining the revolution, read David Bornstein’s book, How to Change the World, and visit sites like Ashoka.

In his Sunday, Nov. 16 New York Times column, Kristof says that social entrepreneur movement is coming of age, as demonstrated by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign mobilization of a grass-roots army of volunteers, social movements, and social networking. “It would be a shame if the political armies took a break until the 2012 elections,” he writes, “absolutely anybody can be a change-maker.”

Kristof notes that “the godfather of the social entrepreneur movement is Bill Drayton, who founded an organization called Ashoka to support ‘change-makers’.” Kristof devotes much of his column to the emergence of youthful social entrepreneurs, describing, by way of example, 13-year-old Changemakers community member Talia Leman (she submitted an entry in the Changemakers Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition).

Talia, an eighth grader from Iowa, started a movement to trick-or-treat at Halloween for coins for hurricane victims that raised more than $10 million. She then organized a program called RandomKid to help other young social entrepreneurs organize and raise money. She also has launched a campaign to build a school in rural Cambodia, backed by children in 48 states and 19 countries.

Kristof notes that Ashoka founder Drayton “is heavily focused on nurturing student social entrepreneurs, and he has started an organization called Ashoka’s Youth Venture to support them. But Mr. Drayton is frustrated that many youngsters are too passive and are never encouraged to run anything of their own.”

Talia is one of 15 finalists in the Best Buy @15™ Challenge with Youth Venture, in which 15 teams from across the country win $10,000 each to expand their ventures and improve their communities. Through the challenge, Ashoka’s Youth Venture and Best Buy are working together to empower teens by enhancing their education, life skills, leadership, and relationships.


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