Building towards a Better Planet

Climate change leads to results and consequences that severely affect the lives of people around the world. The 2023 Tzu Chi Youth Innovation Prize Challenge is a chance for youth to earn funding for innovative solutions and participate in networking opportunities, mentorship, and climate change summits. Join us in working towards a more sustainable future for our planet.

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About

Everywhere we look today, we see news about natural disasters happening across the world. Climate change impacts many aspects of the modern world, including the weather, the impact on global economics, and overall the health of the people. We often wonder: What can we do to fight climate change? Although each individual person is a small part of the global community, small changes can make a big difference, and the actions of each person can induce ripple effects that affect the global climate. 

At Tzu Chi Young Leaders, we believe that young people are the future leaders of the world and that change starts from where we are. The 2023 Tzu Chi Youth Innovation Prize Challenge is calling for ideas and solutions to tackle climate change by promoting low-carbon sustainable living of individual lives in the five areas listed below. We are looking for innovative solutions that have a clear explanation of their ecological benefit and a clear blueprint on how the solution(s) will be created and implemented.

Learn more about Tzu Chi USA and Tzu Chi Young Leaders.

What we eat and how we eat

Food systems are responsible for 70% of the water used, 60% of biodiversity loss, and generate up to a third of human greenhouse gas emissions. Over 17 percent of food is wasted globally.

For example

Composting is an example of helping the environment in a food context. During the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC suspended composting services. The program’s founder, Vivian Lin addressed this problem by establishing a system where people would have their groceries delivered and swapped for compost. Read more on this project here!

What We Wear

Every year 93 billion cubic meters of water are used in the fashion industry, producing 20% of wastewater worldwide and 10% of annual global carbon emissions. <1% of used clothing is recycled into new garments.

For example

FABSCRAP is an organization that collects, sorts, and repurposes fabrics. End uses for the fabrics include insulation, carpet padding, furniture lining, moving blankets, and much more.

How we live

The average CO2 emissions per American is 20 tons per year. Energy supply accounts for 35% of global emissions; Up to 5 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year.

For example

Bye Bye Plastic Bags was founded by Melati and Isabel Wijsen when they were aged 10 and 12. Through petitions, workshops, and beach cleanups, they successfully pushed Bali to completely ban plastic bags in 2018.

How we move around

A typical car emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Fossil fuels account for up to 65% of greenhouse gas emissions, and transportation accounts for up to 24% of emissions worldwide.

For example

Founded in 2017, Bird is the first company to deploy shared e-scooters, which provided a new transportation category that is accessible, efficient, and reliable. Now, Bird’s cleaner, affordable, and on-demand micro-electric mobility solutions are available in more than 400 cities across four continents in the world.

How we cope with the change

Experiencing situations exacerbated by climate change such as natural disasters and fluctuating jobs can lead to mental health conditions such as stress, substance use, and depression and anxiety disorders. 3 out of 4 people living with mental health conditions around the world do not have access to needed services.

For example

Started as an event company, holding mindfulness talks in and around London, Headspace developed into one of the go-to online resources for guided meditation that has significantly improved mental health and holistic well-being among users around the world through cultivation of mindfulness.

Reward

Climate change is a growing issue that affects everyone, but especially the youth. While many are still pondering climate change solutions, the earth’s climate is changing at a rapid rate – therefore, we would like to source ideas from you all!

Although participating in this challenge includes monetary rewards, the crux is more about learning about the process of converting an idea into action, fostering and creating new relationships instead of financial gain. A summary of benefits can be found below:

Phase 1 winners

Up to $5000 grant
per team to implement your proposal

Sponsored summit/bootcamp in Los Angeles
(details to be announced at a later stage)

Final Winner

$10,000 scholarship/award

Potential additional funding for long term 

Everyone

Networking – Meet and share with like-minded peers from across the US!

Mentorship and guidance from experts in the field

Get feedback and collaborative opportunities to design your own project. 

Timeline

You’ve read

  • Application
  • Apply to enter the challenge now if you are passionate about making a difference and leading the changes towards a better world!

    • Jan 1st: Application start
    • Feb 28th, 11:59 PM ET: Application close

  • Phase 1
  • We will focus on ideating and developing project proposals. Virtual networking sessions, resources, and mentors will be given to facilitate teaming, and help teams improve their proposals’ impact, feasibility, etc. Depending on the total number of proposal submissions, At the end of this phase, all or selected teams will be invited to present their project proposals for a chance to receive $5,000 in seed funding to implement their projects.

    • March – April: Working Sessions (Power Days and office hours)
    • April 15th: Proposal submission deadline
    • Mid-April: Virtual Pitches (exact dates are to be announced)
    • April 30th: Announcement of up to 5 teams who will receive $5,000 seed funding and a sponsored in-person bootcamp in summer 2023. (Bootcamp program details to be announced soon.)

  • Phase 2
  • We will focus on the implementation of Phase 1 winning project proposals. Teams will utilize seed funding to turn their ideas into reality and be invited to present their progress, achievements and impacts in late Summer or early Fall 2023. One final winning team will be selected for a chance to win scholarship and additional fundings!

    • May – Aug: Teams will create and implement their solutions.
    • September 1st: Project Final Report submission deadline
    • Mid-September: Virtual Final Presentation
    • End of September: Announcement of final winning team; The team will receive a $10,000 scholarship and potential additional funding for long-term implementation of their project.

    Participate

    Who can participate?

    If you are between the ages of 15 and 25, have a passion for climate change, and want to create innovative solutions, please apply! 

    You are encouraged to participate in teams of 2-5 people. If you don’t have a team yet you can still register and look for your teammates through our networking sessions.

    How to submit my proposal?

    The complete proposal submission package should be sent to [email protected] by the submission deadline of April 15 th 2023.

    Registration starts on Jan 1st, 2023 and ends on February 28th, 2023

    Release soon

    Criteria

    How do we evaluate?

    Projects will be evaluated against the following criteria:

    Impact

    projects should drive tangible, real world impact for both the climate and people. The proposal should explain how it will tackle climate change and/or the extent to which it will support others to do so too. Successful applications will be grounded in data and research. The submissions should provide a proposed impact of the project’s impact in combating climate change.

    Feasibility

    successful proposals will have well-developed and realistic execution plans supported with the resources and expertise needed for implementation. Proposals should also include an adequately detailed time-bound budget plan and estimates. We look for proposals that have high feasibility with the team’s available resources and environment.

    Innovation

    ideas should strive to create or enable new solutions and approaches. Teams can also propose innovative approaches to previous projects such as adapting a solution for a new audience.

    Engagement

    consistent participation of the challenge activities (active participation in power days, engagement with mentors, presentation and interaction during Virtual Pitch Day etc.) and demonstrated commitment to good teamwork, quality project proposals as well as personal growth.   

    Resources

    To help the participants develop ideas and proposals, we will be providing resources including mentorship, focused workshops and panel talks during Phase 1.

    Meet your mentors

    Rev. Dallas Conyers

    Rev. Dallas Conyers

    Dallas’s work centers helping people be able to live out their creation purpose, with a healthy body, in a healthy environment. To this aim, as part of her work with the Southeast Climate and Energy Network she leads conversations on the real world impacts policy has on health, faith, and environment.

    Dr. Robert Nafie

    Dr. Robert Nafie

    Dr. Nafie served as the Headmaster of Clairbourn from 1979 to 2018 and is one of the longest-tenured heads of school in the San Gabriel Valley. He now works as an educational consultant continuing to provide knowledge and expertise especially empowering young people with full rounded education not just academic study but humanity, citizenship, leadership, and the respect for the earth.

    Richard Tsai

    Richard Tsai

    Richard Tsai is a senior hardware design engineer at one of the top high tech companies in Silicon Valley for more than 14 years. He has specialized in hardware design engineering for over 20 years and owns more than 50 US patents. Beside his day to day work, Richard is actively involved in alumni associations and some angel investments. He also has a big passion for volunteering especially in education related programs that help with the younger generation.

    Attend the Power Days to help you accelerate your proposal processes!

    Power Days are designed to facilitate networking, teaming and participant development.

    Two Power Days will be held, one in mid March and another one in early April. Dates will be released closer to the time of the event.

    Power Day 1

    The first Power Day will focus on networking for teams and clarifying information about this challenge.

    Power Day 2

    The second Power Day will focus on sharing progress among the teams and seeking feedback from mentors about the ideas.

    Toolkits

    Useful Materials

    These downloadable toolkits include information such as past project proposals, product examples, and other resources. These resources are provided to help you and your team get started on designing your own project!

    Downloads

    Support Tzu Chi Young Leaders Programs

    Through our youth empowerment programs, young professionals are given the help and support needed to achieve their personal and professional goals, mobilize locally to serve their community, and ultimately become leaders for Tzu Chi USA’s compassionate missions. Your generous donation to our charity fund will help Tzu Chi continue to carry forth these crucial projects (such as this Youth Innovation Prize Challenge).

    Sponsor

    Interested in becoming an event sponsor? 

    More About Tzu Chi Young Leaders Program

    FAQ

    About

    The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation is an international humanitarian organization whose mission is to relieve the suffering of those in need while creating a better world for all through compassion, love, and hope.

    Tzu Chi recognizes climate change as an issue that will have a major impact on future generations. Our youth today needs the training, experience, and resources to be able to innovate and drive collaborative solutions to combat this global issue. It is our goal to empower youth with the resources and skills to become socially-minded and responsible global citizens – thinking globally while acting locally.

    Please don’t hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

    Eligibility and entry

    Students and young professionals between the ages of 15-25 are eligible to participate.

    We encourage all participants to organize their own teams and register as a team if possible. However, we will also help participants to find teams if they register individually!

    Only one person needs to sign up for the team

    Yes. You are free to team up with anyone between the age of 17 and 25.

    The minimum number of people in a team is 2, the maximum number is 5 people.

    For any team member changes or concerns, please email us at [email protected]

    You are free to organize your team as you prefer. However, please take into account that our workshop and mentoring sessions will be held in US time. In addition, should your team become qualified for the field trip, the individual will be responsible for their own travel visa and documents should they need one.

    Process

    You will receive a confirmation email right after your form submission.

    You will receive another email from us with the next steps and resources for the project, so look out for an email from us!

    Each team should only present one project idea with their submission.

    It is encouraged that all participating individuals and teams attend all the working sessions. We see it as an indication of commitment and engagement, which is included in the judging criteria. However, they are not mandatory.

    Confidential Information:

    No. The details of your project may be shared with internal or external experts for evaluation; Please do not submit confidential information in your project submission.

    More Questions?

    Send us a note at [email protected] or at 

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