For initiatives that range from promoting financial literacy to combating mental health stigmas, five young people were named Grand Prize winners by Prudential Financial’s Emerging Visionaries program at a four-day summit held this week at Prudential’s Newark headquarters.
The Emerging Visionaries program is conducted by Prudential in partnership with the social entrepreneurship network Ashoka, with advisory support from the Financial Health Network. It honors remarkable young people between 14 and 18 years old from across the United States for leading initiatives that produce fresh, innovative solutions to current financial and societal challenges.
“The goals of our Emerging Visionaries program reflect Prudential’s overarching purpose: to make lives better by solving the financial challenges of our changing world,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey. “We applaud all of our honorees for their commitment to improving the lives of others and creating inclusive and thriving communities.”
The 25 winners, named in February, each earned a $5,000 award and an all-expenses-paid trip to this week’s Emerging Visionaries Summit, plus a chance to win an additional $10,000. The summit included an awards ceremony, where winners were celebrated by special guests including actress, activist and author America Ferrera. The students also consulted with Prudential senior leaders on topics of strategy and impact, and worked with Prudential employee coaches who helped them refine and advance their projects.
The students join a community of like-minded changemakers that includes 2022 Emerging Visionary Sriya Tallapragada of New Providence, New Jersey. She was honored for her efforts to encourage girls to participate in STEAM programs — science, technology, engineering, art and math. She describes her Emerging Visionaries experience as “life-changing.”
“The prize money I received completely changed the scope and accessibility of our programs,” Tallapragada explains. “And suddenly, I had 24 new friends, all of whom were leading inspiring initiatives and changing their community. We all support each other, sharing opportunities and celebrating each other’s wins.”
During the summit, the five young people whose solutions are focused on financial challenges were selected to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for a chance to win an additional $10,000 in funding for their initiative. Pitch-off judges included Lowrey, leaders from Ashoka and the Financial Health Network, and two program alumni.
The judges were tasked with selecting one Grand Prize winner from the five who pitched their projects. However, after hearing the pitches, judges decided to award $10,000 to each of the five presenters, in recognition of the societal impact of their initiatives.
In addition to the Grand Prize winners, Prudential employees voted on an Employees’ Choice Award winner, who received an additional $5,000 to support their work.
Read on to learn about the five Grand Prize winners and the Prudential Employees’ Choice Award winner.
Grand Prize Winner: Nikita Agrawal, 17, of Chicago
Nikita is the co-founder and president of “FinPro World,” an initiative that promotes financial literacy among middle and high school-aged students by teaching them computer programming skills. Through a 10-week series, participants learn financial concepts that they then apply and demonstrate through coding.
Grand Prize Winner: Okezue Bell, 17, of Easton, Pennsylvania
Okezue founded “Fidutam,” an accessible mobile app that is expanding financial access to unbanked and low-income communities.
Grand Prize Winner: Aaryan Doshi, 16, of Cupertino, California
Aaryan leads “CirFin,” a global initiative that aims to inspire young people to use fintech to develop more sustainable economies. “CirFin” equips young leaders with education and resources they need to create innovative fintech solutions that address sustainability issues, such as reusing materials and decreasing waste, and use them in innovative enterprises that serve their communities.
Grand Prize Winner: Catherine Mellett Felix, 17, of New York
Catherine started a mobile app to address gender economic inequality by teaching young women how to manage and grow their personal finances. The app assesses each user’s financial health and priorities to customize a learning journey of engaging modules on topics such as credit scores and the basics of investing.
Grand Prize Winner: Jordyn Wright, 15, of Rosharon, Texas
Jordyn started a youth entrepreneurship program to teach young people how to identify their passions and use them as a launching point for creating innovative enterprises that serve their communities.
Employees’ Choice Award Winner: Kean Dao, 17, of Winterville, North Carolina
Kean Dao, 17, of Winterville, North Carolina, co-founded “Environmental Droners,” an initiative that uses technology to engage and educate the public on protecting the environment by identifying polluted areas in need of cleanup. He started the project after noticing an alarming increase in single-use plastics during the pandemic.
To access more business news, visit NJB News Now.Related Articles: