Young Aurora is the annual initiative presented by the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative in partnership with the United World Colleges (UWC), Scholae Mundi and Teach For All. Each year, it provides student teams from the participating campuses with the opportunity to enter a project proposal that aims to tackle a humanitarian issue affecting a community in the schools’ vicinity. All proposals are evaluated according to their level of creativity, sustainability, quality of research and potential for impact. Three projects will then be chosen to present their ideas and plans – via online presentations for the second year running – to a panel of highly accomplished humanitarians, entrepreneurs and world leaders in October for the chance to win a $4,000 grant towards the further development of their project. All participating teams also receive personalized feedback and support to refine and further develop their project plans.
"As always, I am very excited to learn more about this year’s Young Aurora projects,” said Veronika Zonabend, Chair of the Board of Governors of UWC Dilijan College in Armenia and Co-Founder of Scholae Mundi. “From the moment it was launched in 2017, Young Aurora has been encouraging young people to take responsibility for addressing the most pressing humanitarian issues in their communities. During these turbulent times, it is imperative to reinforce the importance of universal human values and to celebrate those who strive to help others. As an outreach program of the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, Young Aurora aims to motivate youth to make a difference by proposing their own creative solutions, demonstrating compassion, commitment and ingenuity."
Jens Waltermann, Executive Director of UWC International, commented: “In 2020, COVID-19, the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh and Black Lives Matter were front of mind for UWC. Other humanitarian issues received too little attention. We are deeply grateful to our partners at the Aurora Humanitarian Initiative for continuing their commitment to Young Aurora and offering our students a platform for their own humanitarian projects. This gives them encouragement, attention and an all-important sense of agency to make a difference in the world around them.”
Since 2017, Young Aurora has helped many student projects create a lasting impact in their school communities. This includes runner-up projects, such as Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA’s 2017 project – BraveGirl Camp – which has since supported 150 eSwatini girls from 10 local schools to take part in their empowering student-led camp for girls, or UWC Mahindra College’s 2018 project – Amaavasya – which continues to enable women in Maharastra, India, to engage in a discourse around the stigma of menstruation. It also of course includes the winning projects, such as the 2020 winners from UWC East Africa – Beehive Divide – who have now completed the construction of a beehive fence ready to be erected in May in order to address the human-elephant conflict in Sanya Hoyee village, Tanzania.
The Beehive Divide team summed up the impact that participating in Young Aurora had on them and their project: “Young Aurora simply made us believe in ourselves and we know that the work we have dedicated to our project is finally creating a change and positively impacting people’s lives in various aspects. It taught us that when there is a will to make change, there is nothing that can stop it.”
In a year that remains volatile, with varying COVID-19 restrictions continuing to affect the participating school campuses, it is particularly inspiring to see so many schools and their students excited to take part in Young Aurora and put their passion for change into action. We look forward to seeing what projects they will put forward this year!