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School is Out – Now Change the World

By Susan Carey Dempsey on July 13, 2011No Comment

There was a time when summer vacations gave young people a chance to do something creative, to stretch their imaginations or see where their ambitions might lead them. That could mean anything from weaving a lanyard to learning to sail, or launching a neighborhood business mowing lawns. Those simple concepts have been ratcheted up for 21st century youth, empowered by technology and a growing awareness of the ability of entrepreneurial innovation to drive social change. Recently, the Staples Foundation and Ashoka launched the 5th annual Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition, a global competition that invites youth who are leading their own organizations to share how they are addressing social issues affecting their communities.

The competition is now calling for entries from all youth, ages 12 to 24, who are creating entrepreneurial ventures that use innovation to advance social change. Nominations and entries will be accepted on a rolling basis through September 19 and 4 finalists will receive ‘all-expenses-paid’ trips to Techonomy 2011, a prestigious conference for technology leaders, held in November in Tucson, Arizona.

The first day of Summer Vacation

Image by jcoterhals via Flickr

The global competition highlights youth-led organizations using innovation and technology to address social issues affecting their communities, and is part of Ashoka’s Youth Venture®, an initiative that identifies and fosters young entrepreneurs all over the world who are creating positive change. Since 2006, Staples Foundation, the charitable arm of Staples, Inc., has enabled Youth Venture to expand to eight countries in North America, South America and Europe through more than $3 million in funding.

During the Techonomy conference, the grand-prize winning team will be announced and presented with the Staples/Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneur Excellence Award and a cash prize. The three remaining winners will receive Achievement Awards and other prizes.

Since its inception, the Staples/Ashoka YSE Competition has encouraged youth entrepreneurs from around the world to tackle social challenges with fresh approaches. From pioneering technology that connects financial lenders to borrowers via mobile phones, to spearheading online communities that bring youth together globally on service projects, previous YSE winners have shown themselves to be among the most innovative and tech-savvy youth in the world.

Recognizing how technology plays an integral role in driving innovation among today’s youth, for the first time the YSE Competition will recognize exceptional young people using technology to make a positive impact in their community and the world.

The Staples/Ashoka YSE Competition has continued to see education and economic development among the top social issues addressed by the thousands of entrants who have participated in the program to date. With support from Staples Foundation, more than 1,500 youth ventures team members have continued to grow and sustain their social organizations to better address critical social problems.

For additional information on the Staples/Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition, please visit the competition web site at:

About Youth Venture

Ashoka’s Youth Venture aims to help an entire generation of young people develop as changemakers, who will improve their communities now and throughout their lives. Youth Venture inspires and supports teams of young people to launch and lead their own civic-minded organizations and businesses. Youth teams access workshops, tools, adult allies, a global network of like-minded young changemakers and seed funding to establish their own ventures that solve problems around them. Youth Venture was created by Ashoka, the global pioneer of the social entrepreneurship sector and the world’s biggest network of changemakers. We believe that the greatest contribution we can make to the world is to increase dramatically the number of changemakers today and in every future generation. This is the key factor for success for every part of society, from a school to a company to an entire country. Ashoka’s Youth Venture operates in 18 countries and online at

About Ashoka

Ashoka is the world’s community of leading social entrepreneurs—individuals with innovative and practical ideas for addressing social needs. Working with these social entrepreneurs, Ashoka builds communities of innovators who work collectively to transform society and design new ways for the social sector to become more productive, entrepreneurial and globally integrated. For more information, please visit

About Staples, Inc.

Staples is the world’s largest office products company and a trusted source for office solutions. The company provides products, services and expertise in office supplies, copy & print, technology, facilities and breakroom, and furniture. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and now has annual sales of $25 billion, ranking second in the world in eCommerce sales. With 90,000 associates worldwide, Staples operates in 26 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, making it easy for businesses of all sizes, and consumers. The company is headquartered outside Boston. More information about Staples (Nasdaq: SPLS) is available at

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