Today, the Taco Bell Foundation is announcing the top 25 teams of ambitious changemakers who have been selected to move to the next round of the inaugural Ambition Accelerator.
Young people are disrupting societal norms and pursuing their bold social impact ideas to enact the change they crave in the world. So, the Taco Bell Foundation joined forces with Ashoka, the largest global network of social entrepreneurs earlier this year. Funded by Yum! Brands’ Unlocking Opportunity Initiative, they launched the Ambition Accelerator, a brand new social impact initiative that champions innovators in their pursuits to enact change and tackle inequalities.
Ambitious young people have inspiring passion and drive, but often need more support to turn their ideas into action. The Ambition Accelerator is giving young people more equitable access to the funding and resources they need to enact the community and global change they want to see.
In the program’s first year, there were nearly 300 applications, and 25 ideas were selected to advance to the next round, receiving an additional $1000 in seed funding and getting flown out to Taco Bell’s headquarters in Irvine, California in November. The top 25 will experience an exclusive three-day Summit to network and sharpen their changemaking skills. Five will be selected as finalists to win up to $25,000 in funding to accelerate their ventures.
Several trends emerged from the top ideas, with several falling into the following categories:
- Mental Health for Teens: Multiple applications focused on finding solutions to various mental health issues facing teenagers, from creating safe spaces for Black girls to talk to promoting positive body images.
- Technology for Good: Some submissions focus on technological solutions to societal problems, from mobilizing robot teams that bring resources to disaster zones to an iPhone application that can detect Parkison's.
- Sustainable Futures: Building a more sustainable world was on the minds of many changemakers, resulting in submissions that ranged from bee habitat restoration efforts to a festival fostering eco-friendly fashion trends.
- Youth Education and Development: Young leaders are passionate about setting up their peers and future generations for success, from an organization increasing access to science, engineering, math and technology education in under-resourced communities to an app that trains young people in rural communities to enact change.