While walking through New York City’s Union Square Farmers Market one day, 19-year-old Priya Mittal watched consumers refuse to purchase food with visible flaws. After much research, she learned that over 6 billion pounds of food is thrown away each year in the U.S. because it is considered “ugly” produce. Priya spent months educating herself on iOS development and entrepreneurship in order to design a solution. She created GroGreen Tech, a company and iOS app that “turn wasted food into wanted food.”

Growing up in South Africa, 17-year-old Amonge Sinxoto was tired of African stories being narrated inaccurately and believed it was the responsibility of youth to shift the narrative on social and post-apartheid issues in new directions. She co-founded Blackboard Africa, a non-profit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders through mentorship and leadership development.

Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran is a teenager from India who decided to do something about the negative stereotypes prevalent in his community about citizens from surrounding countries. He founded the Silk Road Biking project to help people from different cultures to meet and learn to understand and respect each other.

Promoting Peace by Meeting Our Basic Human Needs

Priya, Amonge, and Kesava are global teen leaders being nurtured by the flagship We Are Family Foundation (WAFF) program Three Dot Dash. Named after the hit song written for pop group Sister Sledge in the 1970s, WAFF promotes the vision of a global family through programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring visionary young people who are positively changing the world.

Three dots and a dash is the letter V in Morse code, immortalized as a hand gesture by the Allies in World War II to signal victory. Since then it has become an international peace sign. So Three Dot Dash is an apt name for a program dedicated to helping young people change the world, one basic human need at a time.

“What we seek to offer these young people the most are guidance, support, community, and connections,” says Three Dot Dash Program Director Annie Greene. “Many of these teens have experienced firsthand what it means to be lacking in basics like healthcare, education, safety, or even access to clean water. Out of conflict, they have come up with new ideas on how to address these pressing problems. They have started their own projects or organizations at a very early age and their solutions are scalable. At the end of the day, our goal is to foster peace worldwide by meeting people’s basic needs, and these young people are leading the way.”

Every year, the organization identifies about 30 global teen leaders who are positively changing their communities and connects them to mentors, policy makers, industry leaders, and educational influencers who can help them access global networks and partners they may normally never encounter.

On International Youth Day, Education for a Better World

Statistics remind us that significant transformations are still required to make education systems more inclusive and accessible. First, only 10 percent of people have completed upper secondary education in low income countries. Second, 40 percent of the global population is not taught in a language they speak or fully understand. And third, more than 75 percent of secondary-school-age refugees are out of school.

This year, the theme of International Youth Day is “Transforming Education.” The point is to make education more relevant, equitable, and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves. Rooted in Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the United Nations (UN) agenda for International Youth Day 2019 will examine how governments, young people, and youth-led and youth-focused organizations — as well as other stakeholders — are transforming education and contributing to the achievement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Three Dot Dash program contributes significantly to these efforts. Out of more than 330 global teen leader alumni dedicated to positively affecting their communities, 199 are focused on education. But education is not just about receiving instruction; it’s about creating enlightening experiences. It’s about embracing different cultures, building shared values, and enabling self-sufficiency, traits that leaders like Amonge, Priya, and Kesava are nurturing through their work.

“As one of the corporate sponsors of the program, at SAP we are inspired by these global teen leaders and their efforts to build businesses that matter,” says Alexandra van der Ploeg, global head of Corporate Social Responsibility at SAP. “We have been working diligently for more than 10 years to support social entrepreneurship. Our efforts range from programs and partnerships with organizations like We Are Family Foundation, focused on early-stage innovation and new ventures, to accelerating and scaling mature social enterprises. We look forward to continued partnership and amplifying their success to help the world to run better and improve people’s lives.”

See More

Get to know the 2019 global teen leaders through a new micro-documentary series brought to you by We Are Family Foundation, Make A Change World, and SAP:

The education-focused global teen leaders and We Are Family Foundation support Learning for Life, a global initiative from SAP that demonstrates the company’s commitment to building an inclusive, skilled workforce for today’s digital world. With an extensive portfolio of digital literacy programs, Learning for Life creates opportunities by helping ensure that everyone — regardless of age or background — has the relevant skills to thrive, innovate, and secure meaningful work. In 2018, digital skills programs from SAPreached more than 2.8 million youth across 93 countries.