The newsletter to fuel — and thrill — your mind. Read for deep dives into the unmissable ideas and topics shaping our world.
Dec 20, 2021
For years, OZY has led the way profiling some of the most exciting emerging young talent from around the globe. Trail-blazing future scientists, artists, engineers and change-makers have all graced our pages. And of that we are proud.
In today’s Daily Dose, we’ve collated 10 of our strongest OZY Genius Award winners, the people we think are set to change the world, and some who are already knee-deep doing exactly that. Read on to meet the young people set for stardom, tomorrow. Want to get involved? Send your tips for the people you see changing the world to: email@example.com.
1 - Amanda Gorman — Words of Hope
When we first introduced you to Amanda Gorman back in 2017, she was 19, studying at Harvard and an OZY Genius Award winner. In our How Was Your Day? series, she wrote about her project called Generation Empathy, the seed of which “came out of me having this experience on Martin Luther King’s birthday.” She mused on what it meant, how as “We were visiting these museums, exhibits, talking about identity, making change. What was really interesting to me was thinking: What if there was a way in which all students, regardless of their ZIP code or socioeconomic status, could have field trips like that?” While much has changed for Gorman in the years since, one thing hasn’t: her instinct for thinking of others.
2 - Grace Fisher — Arts for Children with Disabilities
The first signs of acute flaccid myelitis (AFM) struck Grace Fisher at her 17th birthday party. She was rushed to hospital and later diagnosed with the rare neurologic disease. While hospitalized, a family friend made a film about Fisher, who was later accepted to the Berklee College of Music in Boston to pursue her dream: playing guitar. She decided to start the Grace Fisher Foundation (GFF) with a fairly singular mission: to bring arts programming to people with disabilities. After winning the 2021 OZY Genius Award and the cash grant to continue her foundation’s work, she is soldiering on toward a future that’s uncertain but will certainly be full of the kind of disability advocacy that got her here. “My only limitation will be my imagination,” she says.
3 - Dan Eggers — Public Education for Trans People
“Just existing as a trans person in the world, there’s a lot of educating that you have to do, everywhere you go,” says Eggers, a native of Birmingham, Alabama. As the first openly trans student to enter a top college music theater program, Eggers is no stranger to feeling alienated. And so, he’s determined to make all classrooms — not just the theater and arts spaces — more LGBTQ friendly. As many trans youth don’t have supportive parents or other adults in their life, Eggers sees educators stepping in, and they’re already responding. “An educator in Canada reached out saying, ‘Hi, I have a bunch of trans students at my high school in the performing arts. Would you come to talk to them to help support them?’”
1 - Rohan Pavuluri — Bankruptcy, Access to Financial Support
If Pavuluri had one piece of financial advice, it’d be to file for bankruptcy when the need arises, no questions asked. While an undergraduate at Harvard, Pavuluri recognized bankruptcy as a civil rights injustice: The poor were unable to hire the help they needed to file complicated bankruptcy forms for a much-needed fresh start. “That really angered me,” Pavuluri recalls. So he decided to do something about it, and to get his idea off the ground, he turned to OZY’s Genius Awards. Pavuluri has been named to Forbes‘ 30 Under 30 and featured in the Time100 Next 2021 list.
2 - Antonia Ginsberg-Klemmt — Portable Solar Cell Carport & Energy Provider
Before ‘Toni’ was born, her parents lived on a sailboat fueled by solar panels. “If it weren’t for my dad, I probably would not have gotten into solar energy,” she tells OZY. “I was born in Hawaii and literally raised on a boat. That childhood has helped shape much of her young life. Ginsberg-Klemmt is a 2021 OZY Genius Award winner for her patent-pending invention, Gismo Power, a portable solar carport with an integrated electric vehicle (EV) charger. This OZY Genius hopes one day to work for a renewable energy company, and she’s particularly interested in researching ocean energy through harnessing the power in currents, waves, tides and pressure differences. “Gismo Power is the beginning of my career,” says Ginsberg-Klemmt, “but certainly not the end of it.”
3 - Brandy Star Merriweather — Platform to Support BIPOCS in Tech
This 2021 OZY Genius Award winner has established Creator Equality, a union for digital creatives who are Black, Indigenous and people of color that’s designed to amplify their stories, set standards and provide free financial, legal and publicity support. “Digital creators kind of just get thrown out there,” she says. “And so I saw it was a need.” Merriweather realizes the degree to which nonwhite creatives do not get proper recognition for their talents. She also runs a public relations company, BStarPR, and heard from clients how content creator friends were being exploited and mistreated behind the scenes. “I was tired of seeing even the digital creators that I worked with feel like they are operating at a deficit.”
4 - Aidan McCarty — Unum ID - A Digital ID Centralizing Information
This Stanford dropout wants to make it harder for Russian hackers to influence elections. How? Co-founding ePluribus with his brother, McCarty was fueled to make it “insanely easy” for Americans to reach their public representatives with comments, queries or concerns. “We wanted to allow regular people to have a voice again. I had this idea to wiki-edit legislation: People could write it together and propose it to Congress,” he wrote on our pages when winning an OGA in 2017. McCarty has gone on to be named a Forbes Top 30 Under 30 and co-found Unum ID, a password-less platform that turns your 34 passwords, half dozen email accounts and multiple phone numbers into a streamlined online identity.
1 - Kalina Silverman — Connecting People Across Divides
Kalina Silverman felt terribly alone when she left home for the first time to go to college across the country. “There was a lot of small talk going on, but it was hard to connect to people,” she told OZY when we first profiled her back in 2015. Silverman first started a mixed-race student coalition, but then she started thinking about other ways of bringing people together. She wanted to show how, despite their differences, everyone has things in common. To do that, Silverman has constructed a social experiment of sorts called Big Talk. Now a U.S. Fulbright Ambassador, the sky’s the limit for Silverman.
2 - Michael DeVore — App for BIPOC Self-Care
Michael DeVore is an ideas man who carries a notebook everywhere he goes. His OGA genius idea from 2015? Envisioning a world in which broke college kids would never again have to go to a job interview with unruly hair. Though DeVore has since moved on from the company, Live Chair Health is powering ahead. Barbers at the collaborating shops now work to convince minority men to check their blood pressure while cutting their hair. As far as we’re concerned, everyone’s a winner.
3 - Gabriel Saruhashi — Communication + Learning App for Incarcerated
Did you know that in the U.S. the $1.2 billion for-profit prison telecommunications industry charges as much as $25 for a 15-minute phone call between an inmate and a loved one on the outside? Incredibly, 1 in 3 inmates fall into debt maintaining contact with a family member behind bars. This has moved 2021 OZY Genius Award winner and Yale grad Gabriel Saruhashi into action. Together with a colleague, Saruhashi has created Ameelio, an app that allows families to send letters, photos or branded postcards to incarcerated loved ones free of charge via their smartphone or computer. Since its launch in 2020, users have mailed over 700,000 letters and postcards through the app, which also offers games, online articles, sudoku and self-help material. That’s what we call real change.
Her name alone is a lightning rod for liberals and conservatives alike, but how well do you really know Ilhan Omar? The congresswoman tells Carlos why Minnesota is the best place in America for whites but not people of color, and the surprising thing she was most nervous about before taking office. To listen to the full, unedited conversation between Carlos and Ilhan Omar, subscribe to the podcast version of the show here: http://podcasts.iheartradio.com/s_34Zjdh
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