image of four girls standing next to a pop up sign about SIREN, a patent-pending gunshot detector and communicator designed to provide real-time alerts to students, faculty, parents, and law enforcement, cutting down the time it takes to alert law enforcement from 5 minutes to 5 seconds and vastly improving the accuracy of that communication.

Celebrating Young Changemakers: Meet the Winners of the Time for Change Youth Challenge!

First Book, alongside our friends at Ashoka, are excited to announce the winners of the Time for Change Youth Challenge! These young innovators from all corners of the U.S. are being awarded $1,000 grants to bring their inspiring ideas to life and make a positive impact in their schools and communities.

The Time for Change Youth Challenge aims to ignite the spark of changemaking in students from kindergarten to 12th grade. These are young individuals who are eager to roll up their sleeves and tackle challenges head-on, making their schools and communities even better places to learn and grow.

Together with Ashoka, we’ve committed $30,000 in grants to support these grassroots projects. We’re also shining a spotlight on five exceptional All-Star Educators who are fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration in their classrooms, inspiring their students to dream big and work together towards common goals.

We were thrilled to see such a strong response to this year’s challenge, with entries pouring in from 36 states and the District of Columbia. More than 200 students from Title I, tribal, or military base schools stepped up to the plate, showcasing their commitment to making a difference. This is the heart of what Time for Change is all about!

Congratulations to These Incredible Winners!

Kindergarten – 7th Grade

James, Kindergarten, of Milford, Connecticut leads “Buzz for Bees,” a local environmental effort to grow pollinator plants across the community to support a dwindling bee population, raise awareness about biodiversity, and nurture local ecosystems. 

Autumn, 2nd grade, of Alpharetta, Georgia is the founder of “Pages of Possibilities,” a network of little libraries filled with stories depicting young people making change to inspire and empower her classmates and other young people in her community. 

Daniela, 2nd grade, of Denton, Texas is establishing a toy and game collection program to improve school recess during rainy days, ensure enriching, screen-free activities, and encourage the development of social and language skills.

Everett, 3rd grade, of Ashfield, Massachusetts is starting a community clean-up project to encourage collective action in picking up trash, raise awareness about the negative impact of littering, and safeguard local animals and the surrounding environment.  

Knox, 3rd grade, of Fort Pierce, Florida is the founder of “Garden Time,” a school and community gardening project aimed at educating students on nutritional health, teaching sustainable gardening practices, and fostering the growth of home gardens throughout the community. 

Jayleen, 6th grade, of Los Angeles, California leads a schoolwide effort to increase access to affordable school uniforms and establish a sustainable model of donated uniforms for students in need.

8th-12th Grade

Tremanie, 8th grade, of Bradenton, Florida, and her friends Cameron, Gabe, and Noah are tackling a growing problem in their community: vandalism. Through spreading the word about its negative effects and helping their teachers and janitors clean up, they hope to make their school a cleaner environment.

Kyleigh, 9th grade, of Radford, Virginia is leading “Every Kid Belongs,” an initiative to build community and support among young people in foster care while raising awareness about the challenges faced by youth in foster care and the importance of finding permanent, loving homes.

Ashley, 10th grade, of Tarzana, California, is the founder of “Arts of Graffiti,” a community art project offering classes focused on graffiti style and its history, shaping community perceptions of graffiti, and creating a space for graffiti artists to legally do their work and inspire others in the neighborhood to explore a new way to be creative.

Katelynn, 10th grade, of San Jose, California, co-founded “Truth Unchained”, a youth-centric organization fighting to end human trafficking through raising awareness, executing targeted interventions, and advocating for the health of survivors. By empowering the youth through teaching, Truth Unchained aims to create a generation equipped to recognize and prevent exploitation before the situation arises. 

Himangini, 12th grade, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana is the founder of “Geaux Girls STEM,” an initiative centered on a STEM workshop series that leverages the power of older students to mentor younger peers, fostering a supportive community of changemakers and imparting not just knowledge but also leadership skills and confidence.

Irfane, 12th grade, of Queens, New York co-founded “Youth-Led Support,” with her friends Maryam and Edlyn, to provide student-led tutoring support to elementary school students in marginalized communities facing systemic educational challenges.

Madelyn, 12th grade, of Midland, Pennsylvania leads “Stop Cancer: Attention to Prevention,” a community health project aimed at mitigating preventable cancer cases and providing medical research on life-threatening lifestyle factors contributing to cancer risks, through her portable education center and a robust social media strategy.

Rebecca, 12th grade, of San Jose, California and her team are addressing the alarming frequency of school shootings with the development of “SIREN,” a gunshot detection and communications system to provide real-time alerts to improve law enforcement response time and notify students, faculty, and parents.  

Zane, 12th grade, of Houston, Texas and first-generation refugee, Ibraheem, are the co-founders of “AIM to AID,” a refugee assistance program with initiatives helping refugees adapt to a new culture and support community members through educational events, donation drives, and other volunteer-based programming.

Changemaking is more than a moment of action. It is a mindset that empowers our youth to make a positive impact in their world, no matter how complex or precise a solution. These young people bring to life the powerful idea of collective, community-based action and inspire all of us with the dedication to spark change.

Kyle Zimmer, President & CEO of First Book

All-Star Educators

Karyn Bashore, an elementary librarian in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, has a passion for STEAM education and began integrating relevant activities, events, and literature choices into her school and community — changing the learning landscape. As an educator serving students from 1st through 5th grade, Karyn has paired award-winning literature with STEAM activities, nurturing changemaking skills like problem solving, teamwork, and leadership. 

Ha Trinh, a Kindergarten through 2nd grade teacher in Los Angeles, California, started “A Little Free Library for All!” box to expand book access to all students in their school. By making books more accessible, the little library helps foster a love of reading, builds a reading community, and inspires readers. 

Lizzie Hansen, a 3rd grade teacher in Sioux Falls, South Dakota recognizes the importance of generosity and building global relationships. She established “The Ubuntu Café,” a coffee shop operated by Hansen’s third graders to give students a space to be changemakers and support their student-chosen cause – a 1st grade classroom in Kenya.

Patricia Vazquez, a 3rd grade teacher in Columbus, Ohio, has pushed barriers to create learning opportunities for educators in her school and promote changemaking activities to help students recognize their ability to create change. To unify her school against common goals, Patricia has taken on the “Letting Students Lead” mindset and has been awarded numerous grants allowing her students to address several issues and causes they care about.

Suzanne Roberts, a Pre-K through 5th grade teacher in Cape Coral, Florida, has developed and scaled her changemaking efforts to empower the next generation to act. Suzanne brought the “kindness is contagious” idea to her students and began donating care packages and funding to Donors Choose, resulting in raising over $300,000 in funds to bring her students’ changemaking ideas come to life with the goal of sparking kindness, charity, and empathy. 

Time for Change Youth Challenge Finalists

In addition to the grand prize winners, we’d like to recognize the awesome solutions from 50 finalists! Explore the stories of these inspiring young changemakers creating change in their communities. 

Join Our Network

Educators can join First Book’s Network — the largest online community of individual educators, professionals and volunteers dedicated to supporting children in need across North America — to bring new resources and supplies to their classroom or program.

image of an educator reading to two kids from a picture book. There is text that says, 'Matching Challenge: Be a Champion for Educators! Your gift by May 31 can go twice as far to provide new, high-quality books and other resources educators need to help students unlock their full potential.' There is a red button in the bottom, right corner that says, 'I'll give now'.