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Four students reflect on growth & mentorship in the MYP Innovators Grant

With the knowledge that young people can make strong, positive and long-lasting change in the world, the IB set out to support Middle Years Programme (MYP) students embarking on community-impact projects with the MYP Student Innovators Grant alongside the Ashoka Foundation. We hear from four MYP Innovators as they reflect on the opportunity and growth the grant and mentorship the IB’s initiative provided.

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Four Middle Years Programme (MYP) students part of the IB’s inaugural MYP Innovators Grant project share their first-had experience growing their community-based projects with support from mentors, start-up funding as well as resources from the Ashoka Foundation. Hear how they are making an impact in their community locally and globally.

Asanshay Gupta, student at Atlanta International School

“The collaboration with Ashoka for the three changemaker sessions had a deep impact on me, prompting me to look for more opportunities to do more for the world”.

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“The MYP Innovators Grant was game changing for me in 2020 as it allowed me to take my passion in robotics into an idea that I could then make into a working prototype—a low-cost eye tracking powered wheelchair for paralysed people. It was a project that merged together a lot of my interests and that I believe can help many people become more independent in the world. The process of the grant application itself—teaching us to develop detailed budgets, expense reports, project plans—was most necessary in kicking off and structuring the project.

The collaboration with Ashoka for the three changemaker sessions had a deep impact on me, prompting me to look for more opportunities to do more for the world. It inspired me to then build a HFOT (High Flow Oxygen Therapy) Calculator app, which is helping over 150 medical professionals from all around the world as they battle COVID-19 with makeshift hospitals and low resources. It was great to see all the grant recipients from around the world and their ideas and feel part of a larger IB community. Thank you, Dr Siva Kumari, for the opportunity!”

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MYP Student Innovators Grant is accepting applications for 2021!

The IB Student Innovators’ grant is an opportunity for Middle Years Program (MYP)  students to build the vital skills needed to become the socially conscious leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs the world needs today. We are seeking to support MYP 4-5 students motivated to start or continue a social impact initiative. Applications will open 15 March 2021 through 14 May 2021. You can learn more about the initiative here.

Interested in getting more involved? The IB is also looking for individuals interested in reviewing student applications or serving as student mentors. If you are an education professional or alum interested in being part of this process, please complete this interest form.

Matteo Markel, student from International School of Zug and Luzern

“With help from this grant, we intend to gain an understanding of how aquaponics is done so that we may apply it to related projects in developing countries such as Ghana and create sustainable infrastructure for generations to come”.

“My name is Matteo Markel and I am a 15-year-old living in central Switzerland. From a young age I had a fascination for science and how the world works. I have always been keen to take on projects that involved nature and chemistry. I read about gardening and learned aquarium-keeping, which led me to join the high school aquaponics club. Here we combine both gardening and fishkeeping in a win-win ecologically sustainable cycle! So big was my interest and passion for the project that I was lucky enough to become a finalist in the MYP Innovators Grant that the IB provided in collaboration with Ashoka. This has permitted my team and myself to expedite many projects that were formerly limited by the lack of funding.

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With help from this grant, we intend to gain an understanding of how aquaponics is done so that we may apply it to related projects in developing countries such as Ghana and create sustainable infrastructure for generations to come. Thus far we are looking to automate parts of our system, install a small-scale solar electric grid and construct a unicycle school store where produce from the aquaponics system, can be sold to raise awareness for the cause. Overall, thanks to the IB Director General Dr Siva’s hard work and collaboration with the Ashoka Changemakers, our project has been permitted to come to fruition. It was a great honour to be able to participate in such an event organized by a most kind and humble human being. Our everlasting thanks and good wishes to Dr Siva Kumari”.

Tatiana Fahie, student from Cedar International School in the British Virgin Islands

“My Girl Up BVI chapter’s Anti-Period Poverty Project––which aims to dismantle two stigmas: Period poverty and shame via interactive panels, period product drives and installing a menstrual vending machine per bathroom of every high school in the territory”

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Today and every day we panegyrize women who trailblaze paths, previously inaccessible for women and other marginalized groups. Dr Siva Kumari, the first woman and person of colour to serve as the IB’s Director General. Representation is intrinsically vital in a digital age. She pioneered the launch of the IB’s inaugural MYP Innovator Grant and its collaboration with Ashoka, a community building and cultivating an international myriad of changemakers. Through this initiative, I have networked with many like-minded individuals via the allyship sub-sector, Ashoka inspire sessions, with my fellow awardees and IB staff to share our knowledge and resources with the goal of evoking change in our local, regional and international communities.

“I am Tatiana Fahie, a 17-year-old Afro Latinx youth advocate New Yorker from Cedar International School in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). In 2019 during an internship at his local NPO, Sir. Richard Branson afforded me the opportunity to attend a leadership summit in Washington D.C. hosted by Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation, working towards gender equality––which sparked my interest in female empowerment. Fast forward to 2020, my Girl Up BVI chapter’s Anti-Period Poverty Project––which aims to dismantle two stigmas: Period poverty and shame via interactive panels, period product drives and installing a menstrual vending machine per bathroom of every high school in the territory––was recognized by the IB’s MYP Innovator Grant, among 29 others.

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I had the opportunity to see Dr Siva’s authentic passion for learning more about our individual projects, which resonated with me. Her investment and commitment to our success as young leaders are not always ubiquitous qualities in programme facilitators.

Without risk-takers like Dr Siva, our world’s evolution would not be as far-reaching as it is. Without Dr Siva, there would be no MYP Innovator Grant. I will be forever grateful that our paths crossed on this transient journey called life”.

Jonathan Brown, student from the Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy

“Being part of the MYP Innovators programme continues to make an impact on my life”.

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“When I think about what I appreciate the most about the MYP Innovators programme, I think about the timing. Amidst lockdowns and realizations that our communities would experience changes, and not for the better, the programme opened up for applications.  At that point, the opportunity to make a positive impact on my community appeared to become more difficult, but also so much more important.  It was a quiescence, but the programme represented a way to remain, and become more, active in the community.

Being part of the MYP Innovators programme continues to make an impact on my life. The setbacks I’ve encountered in turning my idea into a reality, along with the incredible ally I’ve been paired with, allowed me to learn perseverance, patience and flexibility to an extent that challenged me a bit more than I expected.

But none of these lessons would have been possible without the funding that allowed me to begin collaborating with local government to get the gardens placed in the best locations for the greatest impact.

Thank you, Dr Siva Kumari, for arranging this incredible opportunity to become a changemaker in my community and for believing that MYP students have the drive, dedication and passion to see and solve real-world issues”.—Jonathan Brown student from the Connecticut International Baccalaureate Academy and MYP Innovator

Interested in more  from the MYP Innovators? Learn more about this year’s projects here. We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, TwitterFacebook Instagram and YouTube!

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