T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge 2021
Are you a young person with a bold new idea to transform our communities for the better?
As change accelerates across every part of the country, there is an urgent need for solutions from every part of society. Now is an extraordinary time to be a young changemaker.
The T-Mobile Foundation, T-Mobile and Ashoka, are teaming up again this year to kick off the third Changemaker Challenge. This nationwide opportunity gives trailblazing young leaders (ages 13 to 18) the chance to take their ideas on how to create more connected, sustainable and inclusive communities and make them a reality.
Now through April 8, 2021 (9PM PST), teams can enter the Challenge. We are looking for innovative ideas that focus on Technology, the Environment or Education – all with an eye towards creating more connected, sustainable and inclusive communities. Teams with winning ideas will receive an all-expenses paid trip to Bellevue, WA for the three-day intensive Changemaker Lab workshop hosted at T-Mobile’s headquarters (subject to change based on CDC COVID-19 safety recommendations) along with ongoing mentorship, skills development, and up to $15,000 in seed funding to supercharge their ideas.
Are you a T-Mobile employee or does a parent work for T-Mobile? If so, we’re running a separate contest for you – the T-Mobile Family Changemaker Challenge. Just fill out the same application form and make sure to indicate your affiliation with T-Mobile. One Family Changemaker Challenge participant will be eligible to win a $5,000 prize and pitch their idea in front of senior leaders at T-Mobile.
If you have any questions regarding the T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge please contact us at CMChallenge@ashoka.org.
- February 11: Challenge opens (During this time, participants may submit entries, edit, and resubmit until the entry deadline)
- March 4, 8PM PST: Early entry deadline. T-Mobile and Ashoka will select one winning team from those that apply by March 4, 2021 for a cash prize of $2,000. Additionally all entries submited by early entry deadline will receive feedback on how to improve their application
- April 8, 9PM PST: Final entry deadline
- April 12 – May 14: Application screening and community review
- June 3: Winners announced
- July 19-21: Winners attend the Changemaker Lab at T-Mobile’s headquarters in Bellevue, WA.
- July – December: Mentoring and support for winning teams
After the application closes on April 8, 2021, ideas will be reviewed by representatives from the T-Mobile Foundation, T-Mobile , Ashoka and the Changemaker peer community based on eligibility criteria listed below. Contest results will be structured as follows:
- All entrants will receive a digital certificate of participation and gain access to on-demand trainings to support them in their changemaking journey.
- In May, T-Mobile and Ashoka will announce the Top 15 teams – 5 from each of the three categories (Technology, Environment and Education). Each team will receive $5,000 seed funding and an all-expenses-paid trip to T-Mobile’s Bellevue, Washington, headquarters in July 2021 (subject to change) for the Changemaker Lab, a three-day immersive experience in which teams will receive mentorship from T-Mobile executives, skills training from Ashoka and networking opportunities with other amazing teams.
- Early Entry Prize: T-Mobile and Ashoka will select one winning team from those that apply by March 4, 2021 (8PM PST) for a cash prize of $2,000. Additionally, all entries submitted by the early entry deadline will receive feedback on how to improve their application.
- From the Top 15 teams, the best in each of the three categories will receive an additional $5,000 seed funding (for a total of $10,000) and the opportunity to pitch their projects to senior leadership team members of T-Mobile and the T-Mobile Foundation.
- From the 3 Category Finalist teams, one selected grand prize winner will receive an additional $5,000 in seed funding (for a total of $15,000) and a one-on-one meeting with an influential leader.
- From the T-Mobile Family Changemaker Challenge applicants, one winning team will be selected. They will also be invited to the Changemaker Lab at T-Mobile headquarters and receive $5,000 seed funding and the opportunity to pitch their idea to senior leadership.
Applications for the Changemaker Challenge are open to any young person between the ages of 13 and 18 in the USA, including Puerto Rico.
The T-Mobile Foundation, T-Mobile and Ashoka are committed to supporting young changemakers who disrupt the status quo to make their communities more connected, sustainable, and inclusive. This year, we are looking for bold ideas in the following areas:
Technology – Ideas and solutions that use technology as a force for good. Examples of ideas you may submit include but are not limited to:
- Build a community of women in engineering to increase representation
- Develop an app that allows young people to find free Wi-Fi in their neighborhood to improve access
- Create a platform that shares resources and opportunities to support first generation college students
Environment – Ideas and solutions that improve the health of our planet. Examples of ideas you may submit include but are not limited to:
- Redistribute unused food from local schools and restaurants to feed those in need
- Establish an organization dedicated to promoting green energy and reducing local dependence on fossil fuels
- Reduce clothing waste by collecting and up-cycling t-shirts
Education – Ideas and solutions that fuel all types of learning both in and outside of classrooms. Examples of ideas you may submit include but are not limited to:
- A program that fosters a more inclusive environment for students with special needs in general education
- Create an in-school program that connects students with hands on learning tools to help bridge the education divide
- Develop a game requiring teamwork to build stronger social emotional skills
- Participants must be at least 13 when applying and not older than 18 by the end of entry period United States or Puerto Rico residents.
- Two participants of eligible ages (plus ONE chaperone if any participant is under 18) per winning team will travel for the Changemaker Lab.
- One application per initiative and per person will be accepted.
- Previous winners from the Changemaker Challenge 2018 and 2019 are not eligible. If you applied last year and were not one of the winning teams, you can re-apply.
- Applications must be submitted in English.
- Employees of T-MOBILE USA, INC. or T-Mobile Puerto Rico, LLC, their parent companies, affiliates and subsidiaries, joint ventures, participating advertising and promotion agencies are only eligible to compete in the specific challenge in place for those individuals with formal ties to T-Mobile. One can apply for this challenge by selecting the option marked “Yes” for the question “Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?” when completing the application. The eligible relationships to the T-Mobile employee are Parent/Guardian or Sibling.
The selection committee will be looking for Changemakers who provide strong answers to a range of questions about what your initiative does, how it runs, and your changemaking story.
Remember, we are looking for innovative and creative ideas at all stages of development, which means it can be a young idea or a fully baked one! Entries will be evaluated on the following criteria:
- Changemaker Quality: You identify as a Changemaker and are already taking steps to make a real difference, big or small.
- Creativity: Whether you’re tackling a new challenge or bringing a different perspective to an existing problem, you’re doing it in a fresh and innovative way that challenges the norm.
- Commitment: You’re ready to stick by your project and leave a lasting impact. You may have mapped out a full plan or could just be in the idea stage, but you are ready to go beyond a one-time activity to make a difference in the future.
- Connection: You are focused on making a difference in a community that is close to you and your experiences. You are open to connecting with others and working together to solve the problem you care about.
In addition to our evaluation criteria described above, the group of winning teams will be selected to represent the diversity of applications received and the diversity of the field. Diversity will refer to: gender, accessibility, class, ethnicity, race and age. Diversity can be showcased in the target audience of a project, its partners or the team representing it.
Terms and Conditions
Review the full Terms and Conditions of the Changemaker Challenge 2021 for more information about children and youth participation, intellectual property, use of prize money and more.
Applicants' entries will be published on the Challenge platform and accessible by the public. You can identify the sections of the application form that will be displayed publicly by their label “Public”. Entry information may also be shared with third parties for evaluating and processing the applications. The Challenge Partners will implement appropriate measures to ensure the Applicant’s Confidential Information is not actively revealed to any third-party that is not necessary to such related activities. For more information about how the Challenge Partners will use your data, please see the Challenge Terms and Conditions.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I have to be a U.S. citizen? Are international students studying in the United States eligible to apply? • All applicants must be located in the United States or Puerto Rico when they apply, but U.S. citizenship is not an eligibility requirement. International students studying in the United States are eligible for the challenge
Is it okay if I have teammates outside of the age range? • All applicants must be within the specified age range (13-18) at the time of the application deadline (April 8, 2021) and must have at least one teammate within the age range. You may have additional teammates outside this age range, but they will not be allowed to attend the Changemaker Lab.
I won the Changemaker Challenge last year. Am I eligible to apply? • No. Past winners (top 30) and Lab participants are not eligible to apply again, even with a new idea.
I applied to the Changemaker Challenge last year but didn’t win. Am I eligible to apply? • Yes! If you’ve applied to the Changemaker Challenge in the past but were not a top 30 winner, you are welcome and encouraged to apply again.
I won one of Ashoka's other youth challenges. Am I eligible to apply? • Yes! Winners of Ashoka's other youth challenges who fall within the age range are welcome and encouraged to apply.
How does the application process work? • Applications are submitted through this online platform. To apply, click the "Participate" button on the top right of this page. This will prompt you to create and activate an account. You can submit and edit your entry up until the final deadline (9pm PST on April 8, 2021).
Which category (technology, environment, education) should I choose? • Choose whichever category aligns best with your project! You can change this up until the application deadline if you think you made the wrong choice. After the deadline, Ashoka and T-Mobile reviewers may move your entry into a different category if they think it is appropriate to do so. This will not affect your chances of winning.
Is the Changemaker Lab in-person? When is it? • We are currently planning for an in-person event in July 2021. If necessary, we will adjust the Lab dates or transition to a virtual event in order to keep everyone safe. We're working really hard to create an amazing experience for everyone involved!
My YouTube video is really low resolution. What should I do? • When uploading to YouTube, a low-resolution video is uploaded first. The resolution will improve, but it usually takes a few hours to do so. Be patient! Regardless, you won’t be penalized for the resolution of your video.
Can my team members edit my entry on the challenge platform? • No. The platform does not currently allow multiple people to edit the same entry.
I can't make the dates for the Changemaker Lab. Can I still apply? • Yes, as long as someone else from your team can attend the Lab in your place.
Do I need to have a pre-existing project in order to apply? • Nope! Brand new ideas are welcome.
Who do the diversity questions refer to? • The diversity questions refer to the primary representative of your project. These questions are optional and are meant to help us continue to improve our diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
I won the early entry prize. Does this mean that I'm a top 15 winner? • Winning the early entry prize does not guarantee that you will be a top 15 winner. But it does mean that you get $2,000 in seed funding to support your project!
Do I have to be a T-Mobile customer to apply to this challenge? • Nope. Anyone ages 13-18 in the United States or Puerto Rico is welcome to apply.
Who should I include as my project references? Do my references need to be T-Mobile employees? • References should be adults who know you well and are familiar with your idea or project. They do not need to be T-Mobile employees. At least one of your references should be a parent or guardian. Teachers and mentors can also be great references. Just be sure to ask them if they’re willing to be a reference before including their contact information so that they’re not surprised when we contact them!