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United Way Blog

Big Ideas Can Fuel Big Change

Jadyn Gomberg, 17, isn’t taking bullying lying down. She’s created a social media campaign called keep it kind (k.i.k.) that’s all over Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. That’s in addition to her two public service announcements. She’s hoping to build keep it kind into a national nonprofit dedicated to preventing bullying by teaching kindness to elementary and middle schoolers.

The high school senior from Corona, California just got a boost from Pop-Tarts®, Kellogg Company and United Way when she was named one of the winners of the Rep My City Challenge. She’ll get an opportunity to work with her local United Way, the Corona-Norco United Way, to translate her idea into reality, fueled by a $5,000 grant.

She’s not the only one. Aditya Desai, 16, of Livingston, New Jersey, developed a gamified workshop and mobile app with personal finance games to teach students about financial literacy. Sophie Bernstein, 19, of St. Louis, Missouri, wants to build, plant and harvest organic sustainable vegetable gardens at child care centers serving kid from low-wage families.

All told, 10 young people, between 16 and 22, were chosen as winners of the Rep My City Challenge. Pop-Tarts, Kellogg and United Way partnered on the campaign to spotlight young people who have the vision to create the change they want to see. Each gets a $5,000 grant, and may work with their local United Way to promote and implement the ideas.

The Rep My City Challenge asked young people ages 13-22 to develop a creative way to address the issue that has the greatest effect on friends and families in their community. Submissions included ideas to provide beds for the homeless, support translation for immigrants, boost volunteerism, increase after-school activities, reduce neighborhood crime, focus on mental health issues and more.

“Gen Z is uniquely positioned to take action to shape the future,” said William Browning, United Way’s Chief Transformation Officer. “And they’re using the experiences of their peers locally and globally to shape the world of their dreams. We saw some great ideas in the Rep My City Challenge, and are excited to help these young leaders translate their passion into action.”

The Challenge highlights how important young people are in driving solutions to community problems. We can’t wait to see how the projects come to life in their communities and how these young people inspire other teens and young adults.

Below are the winners of the Rep My City Challenge:

  • Aditya Desai, 16, Livingston, NJ – Financial Literacy Workshops
  • Andres Guerra, 17, Brownsville, TX – Day of Giving
  • Sophie Bernstein, 19, St. Louis, MO - Community Vegetable Gardens
  • Caroline Sentell and Courtney Byington, 16, Knoxville, TN – Beds for Homeless Youth
  • Ravin Hardaway, 20, Detroit, MI – College Readiness Workshops
  • Jadyn Gomberg, 17, Corona, CA – Anti-Bullying Campaigns
  • Siri Pierce, 17, Portland, ME – Solar Panels for Schools
  • Jane Josefowicz, 16, Providence, RI – Refugee Translation Services
  • Eric Jing, 16, Atlantic City, NJ - STEM Workshops
  • Crystal Martinez Fernandez, 22, Orange County, CA – Plastic Waste Pop Up Shops

Inspired by what you read? Change starts with you. Take action today to make a difference in your community.