Introducing The Next Generation Of Leaders And Thinkers

How this organization helps teenagers change the world

For the tenth year, Three Dot Dash (a project driven by the non-profit organization We Are Family Foundation) is helping 30 new teenagers change the world, with the application deadline set at Sep. 16. The teenagers, which are called Global Teen Leaders (GTLs), come from around the globe and have solutions to certain humanitarian problems or projects that create social change. They are given a year of mentorship and support to power their solution or innovation and do also get to attend the Just Peace Summit in New York City, which involves workshops and successful speakers (for example, last years speakers included Lara Stein, the founder of TEDx, and Aria Finge, the CEO of

To apply, one needs to…

  • Have started or co-founded a project or organization that addresses one or more basic human needs. The project needs to have already achieved at least some tangible results.
  • Receive a nomination. (See the list of people that are qualified to nominate someone.)
  • Be between 13 and 19 years old.

Even if one can’t fulfill these requirements (because let’s be real, you have to be pretty extraordinary to be selected), it is still inspiring to read about the previous Global Teen Leaders and how they’ve, before even turning 20, have made a huge difference in their countries and in many cases the world.

One example is Max Loughan who created a cost-efficient, renewable and wireless power source at the age of 14 or Melati Wijsen from Indonesia who made Bali ban plastic bags. Melati’s campaign also influences countries all around the world to use less single-use plastic bags.

Mridul Manas, another GTL, developed an SMS system to make quality maternal health care more easily accessible to mothers in slums, as well as to provide free education and humanitarian aid for refugees. Three Dot Dash states that:

“To date, MeraSMS has provided maternal and financial support to more than 2,000 families in 120 Indian slums, and additionally connected families in those slums to free education and healthcare opportunities.”

Another inspiring teenager is 18-year-old Sanjana Akula who has founded an organization that works to “bring economic and professional empowerment to sex trafficking survivors through STEM training and financial literacy education.” Three Dot Dash explains that “by equipping survivors with STEM skills, Rakshana frees them from the cycle that often forces them to return to trafficking when they have no other means to support themselves.” On the organization’s website, one can read that it “is unique in that it was founded to address the need for support for victims after they had been rescued.” (Read more about the organization”here.)

Another example of a Global Teen Leader is Erin Smith who developed a revolutionizing tool that can quickly spot if a person has Parkinson’s disease at the early stages based on the person’s facial expressions. Through similar technology to Snapchat filters, the tool can both diagnose and monitor the disease.

These teenagers aren’t exceptions or the most special winners; by reading about the previous GTLs (there are currently 270 of them!) one finds that everyone has created projects that are remarkably unique and impactful. Together, the Global Teen Leaders are among the most influential and extraordinary teenagers in the world.

Three Dot Dash is certainly a unique and uplifting initiative that ultimately shows the impact that teenagers can have as social entrepreneurs if they get the right support and tools. It trusts in teenagers and their abilities and promotes the belief that young people also have the potential to come up with revolutionizing ideas.

To apply to be one of the 2019 Global Teen Leaders, click here. If you want to read more about the previous GTLs, visit this page.

Photo: We Are Family Foundation

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