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NJ Youth Honored as Prudential Emerging Visionaries

Marie Dillard, 18, of Englewood, and Anika Dugal, 17, of Matawan, have been named a 2024 Prudential Emerging Visionary for their inspiring commitment to improving the lives of others.

As two of 25 Prudential Emerging Visionary winners, Dillard and Dugal will each receive a $5,000 award to help take their innovation to the next level. They are also invited on an all-expenses-paid trip to Prudential’s headquarters in Newark, where they will be coached by Prudential employees and have the chance to meet other young leaders.

Prudential Emerging Visionaries recognizes young people ages 14-18 whose fresh perspectives and innovative solutions address pressing financial and societal challenges in their communities. The program’s goals align with Prudential’s purpose: to make lives better by solving the financial challenges of our changing world.

“I am inspired by the students’ sense of purpose and commitment to driving positive change in their communities,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey. “We’re honored to support these young leaders as they bring their extraordinary projects to life.”

During the summit, to be held April 20-23, five winners will also have the opportunity to present their solutions in a pitch-off, where a grand prize winner will be awarded an additional $10,000 in funding. What’s more, Prudential employees will again vote to name an Employees’ Choice Award winner, who will receive an additional $5,000.

New Jersey’s 2024 Prudential Emerging Visionaries:

Marie Dillard founded “The Crescendo Lab,” a classical music mentoring program that works with youth of color to expand access to music education and create an inclusive future for classical musicians of color in American orchestras. During the program, mentees build their music skills, learn about setting goals, and explore music history so that they are exposed to musicians and composers who look like them.

After the COVID-19 pandemic, Dillard noticed how few people of color played in her orchestra. Through conversations with her classmates, she found that many of her peers felt that “orchestras were not for them.” Growing up with access to classical musical education made Dillard passionate about encouraging young people of color to “be comfortable expressing themselves through music, be inspired to play, and be able to make space for themselves in classical music.” Currently, “The Crescendo Lab” runs a five-week mentoring program and is working to build replicable models to expand to other states.

Anika Dugal founded “Girls for Algorithmic Justice,” a global grassroots coalition of young women acting through political action and advocacy to address the gender and racial disparities in artificial intelligence technologies. Through coalition building, Dugal’s initiative works to address algorithm-based discrimination by advancing regulation for ethical use of AI on a national scale.

When Dugal learned of the gender and racial disparities within AI algorithms, she decided to mobilize the young women in her community around addressing bias. “Through a dualism of raising awareness and empowering young people to take action, I hope to spark significant progress in the realm of promoting equitable AI,” she says. Currently, Dugal’s project brings together more than 280 student volunteers within a network of 11 school chapters across the globe.

Prudential Emerging Visionaries is sponsored by Prudential in collaboration with Ashoka, a leading organization in the social impact sector, with advisory support provided by the Financial Health Network, an authority on financial health and a longtime partner of The Prudential Foundation.

The program is an evolution of Prudential’s Spirit of Community Awards, which honored more than 150,000 outstanding youth volunteers over 26 years.

To read about all of this year’s Prudential Emerging Visionaries, visit

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