A musical theater company that encourages social change and a new venture dedicated to supporting the psychological well-being of orphaned children in China have been selected as grand prize winners of the 2014 NYU Reynolds Changemaker Challenge.


The winning teams in the annual challenge for New York University undergraduate students were Daniel Chen (Stern), Zena Hinds (Tisch) and Ina Zhang (Stern) of Unmasked Theatre Company, and Junyi Fei (Stern) and HaoJie Hu (Stern) for their child-centered social change venture Up For Sky.

Unmasked Theatre Company’s mission is to use elements of musical theater for social change. The student founders hope to reach a mainstream audience through shattering the pre-conceived notions surrounding mental illness, while unmasking the inner battles that occur beneath the surface.

Up For Sky’s “Guardian Angel Project” aims to improve left-behind children’s psychological well-being by providing long-term, trusting and supportive companionship. Left-behind children will develop life skills, engage with peers, and reconnect with their biological parents, ultimately helping them to discover their potential and succeed in early education despite systematic economic and social disadvantages.

NYU Reynolds (the Catherine B. Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship) also cited the social venture founded by students Tanya Gupta (Gallatin) and Andrew Moon (Gallatin), called “here there and EVERYwhere,” a nonprofit, transparent, repurposed goods platform that empowers survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault, and human trafficking. htE provides survivors with vocational training in sewing, embroidery, and crafts, as well as entrepreneurial skills to help them move toward financial independence. The venture was the recipient of a 2014 Changemaker Challenge seed grant.

A description of all the finalists for the Best Overall Venture award can be read at http://www.nyu.edu/reynolds/changemaker/venture_teams.html.

Now in its eighth year, the Changemaker Challenge invites all NYU undergraduate students who want to change the world to compete for $1,000 maximum seed grants and a Grand Prize of up to $10,000. The Changemaker Challenge will continue in the 2015-2016 academic year and is open to all New York University undergraduate students in teams of two or more. Ventures developed by student teams can be any student-created, student-led organization, program or business that benefits the community and has a measurable, positive, social impact. For profit, non-profit and hybrid ventures are eligible. Ventures must be completely new initiatives or a major new initiative of an existing organization. Ventures that have received funding from NYU Reynolds and/or Youth Venture in the past are not eligible. For details, visit http://www.nyu.edu/reynolds/changemaker.

About NYU Reynolds
At the intersection of new ideas and intractable social challenges lies The NYU Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship, a cross-university initiative that finds changemakers from across the globe and transforms them into gamechangers. Encompassing all of NYU’s undergraduate and graduate schools, this first-of-its-kind program founded in 2006 engages global challenges through a new vision of practice-based education, one that equips cutting-edge leaders to think boldly, act swiftly, scale broadly, and build smartly.

More than a re-imagining of social entrepreneurship education, the NYU Reynolds Program realizes that the ground has shifted. The NYU Reynolds Program aims to challenge, illuminate, and inspire possibilities that turn changemakers into gamechangers. It is a cornerstone of innovation and transformation, and of unimaginable heights and incalculable difference. For more information about the NYU Reynolds Program, visit http://www.nyu.edu/reynolds.

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Robert Polner
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