FRIDAY 5: Ideas for Becoming a Teen Activist or Entrepreneur

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Want to make an impact but don’t know how to begin? We’ve gathered up some smart expert advice to get you on your way to launching your own project.

ONE: Look For Opportunities in Your Own Community: When Joi Stevens learned about the homeless pregnant teens and teen moms at San Antonio’s Seton Home, she wanted to do something to make their lives better. Her idea: the Back 2 School Makeover. And she got right to work. “My mother and I went around the salon talking to different stylists about our idea and began working on getting sponsors and donations,” she told the San Antonio Express News. “Since it would be before the girls go back to school, I thought a school supply drive would be the perfect finishing touch.”

TWO: Think About What You Love: What are you passionate about?  For Skyanne Fischer, it’s books, especially young adult fiction. So she co-founded PAYA, a coalition of Pennsylvania young adult authors, bloggers, librarians, readers and other book lovers. Their mission? To share their love of YA books with other Pennsylvania book lovers, and to raise money to support libraries throughout the state. “I love the fact that I’m promoting reading and helping libraries at the same time,” Skyanne tells Heart Of Gold.

THREE: Stay Organized: Between school, work, after-school activities, family obligations AND your project, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You’ll need to come up with a system for keeping it all straight. That’s what Juliette Brindak, CEO of Miss O & Friends, a website created by and for girls, told us she does: “I have this huge red notebook that I write down literally everything that I am going to do that day (and I do my best to stick to it).”

FOUR: Don’t Forget About Fundraising: Every entrepreneur and activist needs to come up with a plan for keeping the funds flowing – but you can start small and build as you go.  When Jessica Markowitz founded Impuwe Richard’s Rwanda to support low-income girls in rural Rwanda, she helped organize bake sales and car washes. “We’ve now started to write grants – we recently got a matching grant from the Paul Allen Foundation – and this year we had a brunch at the Recovery Café where we had one of our students from Rwanda come and we all worked really hard. We’re always thinking of new ways to raise money and brainstorming, but we mostly focus on basic fundraisers and grants. We also sell apparel and stuff like that.”

FIVE: Keep a Positive Attitude: Your energy will be contagious! Just ask Sarah Cronk, co-founder of The Sparkle Effect, a student-run program that encourages teens nationwide to include students with disabilities in high-school cheerleading programs – and the  $100,000 grand prize winner in the Do Something Awards, a prize honoring young people’s commitment to social change. “Never be afraid to be totally excited about your work,” she tells Ypulse, website for Gen Y media makers. “The world needs more unbridled enthusiasm. Enthusiasm generates all kind of positive energy and leaves little room for ego.”

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