Last month, a non-profit group called the Millennial Trains Project (MTP) and NBCUniversal partnered to help a group of young innovators advance social impact projects on a transcontinental train journey across the American South. While the journey has come to an end, the work is full steam ahead for the innovators and entrepreneurs who rode the train, and NBCUniversal is taking another step to help turn their ideas into action.
NBCUniversal is demonstrating its continued commitment to the advancement of innovative social change projects by creating a new grant program for MTP participants called Impact Grants. The NBCU Impact Grants are being issued based on the depth and potential impact of the applicant’s projects, as well as the extent to which the participant continues pursuing his or her own project.
This year’s Impact Grant recipients include community activists, veterans, and social entrepreneurs:
Marzena Zukowska: Marzena, a communications professional and community activist based in Washington, D.C., is using her experience as a formerly undocumented immigrant to foster equity and inclusiveness in the immigrant community. With the grant, Marzena will launch a prototype of Opportunity Pipeline: an inclusive professional development network for Millennial immigrants, who are interested in building careers as freelance creatives and professionals.
Maceo Keeling: A former soldier and Bronze Star Veteran, Maceo founded a media platform as a place where change-makers, activists, and entrepreneurs could gather and discuss social issues. Maceo will be publishing his third magazine edition of CORRESPONDENCE for Citizens of Culture, featuring the 2015 participants and the impact they are having in their communities.
Katlyn Grasso: Katlyn founded and heads GenHERation: a female empowerment network for high school-aged girls. Leveraging community partnerships formed during the train journey, GenHERation will host an upcoming Summer Leadership Series that will feature influential female speakers from various industries. The speakers will be featured in webisodes on GenHERation’s website and distributed to high schools across America.
Randi Gloss: Randi, a social entrepreneur and activist, launched GLOSSRAGS Goes There, a series of pop-up shops and community talk-backs on social issues. Moved by the people she met and stories she heard, Randi plans to create a multi-part web series titled “The Conscious Chronicles” on the black experience in America and will host screenings in the cities she visited during the MTP journey.
Brittany Van Ness: Brittany has created the Nourish and Thrive Initiative with hopes to establish a place that will streamline guidance on health and nutritional practices for cancer patients. With the knowledge gained during her meetings with representatives from integrative health centers, Brittany plans to develop an on-line toolkit for patients to maximize nutrition during recovery.
Erin Spencer: A National Geographic Young Explorer, Erin is focused on identifying creative solutions to invasive species management across the US. She intends to share stories of individuals involved in invasive species management and establish an online marketplace that sells products derived from the results of those initiatives, including items such as lionfish spine earrings or honey harvested from invasive species of bees.
The partnership with Millennial Trains Project is part of the NBCUniversal’ s unifying vision for social impact: Open Possibilities. Focused on uniting media, technology and community to ignite passion around social issues, unleash creativity and connect us to something bigger, Open Possibilities represents what is possible when we push the limits of what technology and media can achieve to move communities and people forward.