Kristin Hayden, the founder of the Seattle-based OneWorld Now!, faced her share of rejection while trying to get her global leadership organization off the ground. She spent two years trying (unsuccessfully) to raise grants. When things looked bleak, Hayden stayed on course by reminding herself of the importance of her vision — making sure that low-income youths had access to great leadership development and study abroad opportunities like their more affluent counterparts.
Today, OneWorld Now! is a highly regarded global leadership program. Its two-year structure gives Seattle area high school students the time they need to build leadership skills, learn languages like Chinese and Arabic, and explore cultures in preparation for a semester or year abroad. To date, OneWorld Now! has graduated more than 1,000 mostly minority, low-income youth, all of whom have defied demographics and gone on to college. The organization is currently accepting applications for its next two-year program, and its 2011 summer program which is open to all students able to travel to Seattle. Here, Hayden talks about the challenges she’s faced and her vision for the future.