WASHINGTON, DC (November 11, 2005) For her groundbreaking work in opening up global opportunities for disadvantaged youth, Kristin Hayden, founder of One World Now!, was one of 14 social entrepreneurs from the United States and Canada inducted into a global fellowship by Ashoka: Innovators for the Public at a special ceremony Monday at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Once elected, Fellows benefit from being part of the Ashoka fellowship for life.
OneWorld Now!, located in Seattle, Washington, is a two-year after-school program that provides activities with an international focus, including the study of a relevant foreign language (Arabic or Chinese, which are rarely taught in public schools), leadership skills, study abroad, internships, and college prep. It is one of the only programs teaching Arabic to American public high school youth, particularly within a comprehensive global cultural program aimed primarily at low-income and minority students who have historically lacked access to such opportunities.
Headquartered in Arlington, Va., Ashoka elects emerging social entrepreneurs to an international fellowship of their peers, providing significant financial support and an array of pro-bono professional services, primarily through three strategic partnerships: McKinsey & Company, Hill & Knowlton, Inc. and the International Senior Lawyers Project. Additional support is available from Ashoka for Fellow-initiated collaborations and exchange visits.
Ashoka is a global organization that works to elevate and strengthen the citizen sector, said Ashoka founder Bill Drayton in announcing this year’s Fellows. We do this by supporting those who have the kind of qualities traditionally associated with leading business entrepreneurs vision, innovation, determination and long-term commitment but are committed to systemic social change in their fields. Ashoka Fellows are recognized for their innovative solutions to some of society’s most pressing social problems.
Hayden launched OneWorld Now! after the wake-up call of September 11th, which brought urgency to a vision she had been nurturing for some time hence the exclamation point in the group’s name. We as Americans clearly need to have more of a global perspective to deal with the realities we are facing, she says. The long-term goal of OneWorld Now! is to influence our culture and public policy, to put a greater emphasis on high school students learning foreign languages and studying abroad. We focus on serving students who would typically not have these opportunities otherwise. A global perspective can open up so many avenues for them for college and careers.
Two life-altering experiences overseas led to Hayden’s work. As a teenager she studied in apartheid South Africa on a Rotary scholarship, and as a college student she studied in Moscow, Russia, just prior to the break-up of the Soviet Union. These opportunities, coupled with nearly seven years of working overseas and in global organizations, gave her the vision for OneWorld Now!, which helps American youth from low-income communities become the next generation of global leaders with the skills to succeed in an increasingly multi-cultural world.
Hayden wants every young American to have access to the travel experiences she had. In Great Britain, they have a ‘gap year’ between high school and college, she notes. That’s a wonderful opportunity to enrich yourself through international travel and study. I’d love to see that institutionalized in America. Although her program is only in its fourth year of operation, it is already reaching students in five Seattle high schools, with a plan for national expansion. The group is also allied with IIPP of the United Negro College Fund to identity potential candidates for its generous international studies scholarships. In addition, a number of top universities such as Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown and Duke recently visited Seattle for a OneWorld Now! college fair to meet and recruit the participants in her program.
Before founding OneWorld Now!, Hayden attended Macalester College, an internationally oriented school, during the Cold War and began studying the Russian language. She studied abroad in Moscow in 1990, just before the break-up of the Soviet Union, a choice she made for the same reason she’d chosen to study in South Africa she was curious about the countries that dominated world news but Americans knew little about. In both of these countries, she saw blatant injustice, which caused her to reexamine social justice issues in the United States. After college, Kristin attended an intensive Russian program at Middlebury College and then lived abroad for seven years in Moscow, Paris, London and Tbilisi.
Ashoka Fellows and Affiliates work in six broad fields: learning/youth development, the environment, health, human rights, economic development and civic participation. Selection criteria include the social impact of the idea, demonstrated creativity in problem solving, the newness of the idea and the entrepreneurial quality of the founder.
Ashoka: Innovators for the Public is a global community of social entrepreneurs who deliver innovative solutions to social problems. To build this citizen sector community, Ashoka identifies and supports leading social entrepreneurs, creates opportunities for collaboration, and builds systems and institutions that facilitate high impact social solutions. Over the past 25 years since Bill Drayton founded Ashoka, the organization has invested in more than 1,600 Ashoka Fellows in 60 countries. Ashoka’s global fellowship is privately financed by individuals, volunteer chapters, foundations, and leading business entrepreneurs.