Jessica Lax

Increasing Ashoka U's breadth of impact

Finalists Announced for the #MillionsofChangemakers award

UPDATE: Due to COVID-19 the Exchange has transitioned to being a virtual event.  To streamline the event we will no longer be asking Exchange attendees to vote for the winner of the award and have instead invited all finalists and semi-finalists to showcase their initiatives in a virtual poster session.  Sign up to the Ashoka U email list to get our invitation to the virtual poster session.  You’ll be able to ask questions and learn more about these incredible initiatives.


Washington D.C., March 5th, 2020 – Ashoka U has selected four finalists and six semi-finalists for the #MillionsofChangemakers award. The award will recognize the initiative that has the greatest potential to spark #MillionsofChangemakers if adopted across higher education.


The #MillionsofChangemakers awardee will be selected by the Ashoka U community at the upcoming Exchange on April 18th in Minneapolis, MN. Attendees and those watching the live stream of the final Exchange keynote will  vote for one of the four finalists through a live voting process.  


Sign up here to get the link for the livestream on April 18th so you can cast your vote!


The award is a part of Ashoka U’s #MillionsofChangemakers campaign, launched with support from Schmidt Futures in Feb. 2019. As part of the campaign, leading academic institutions, ecosystem builders, and individuals across 14 countries made 73 commitments to activate more than 200,000 changemakers.


Commitment makers have made incredible progress in just over six months, collectively accelerating more than 65,000 changemakers to date.  


“The #MillionsofChangemakers campaign showcases the critical role that colleges and universities play in creating a society where changemakers can thrive,” said Jessica Lax, Ashoka U’s lead on the campaign. “Many of these initiatives are working on shifting entrenched systems and cultures on campus and in their community. They are equipping thousands of students and community members to tackle complex issues like the opiate epidemic, sexual assault, and climate change. We’re excited to elevate these approaches so we can all learn new and better ways to equip the changemakers the world needs.”


#MillionsofChangemakers award finalists

The following four finalists were selected by a panel of reviewers from 45 progress update submissions.  Their work will be featured in a video on the keynote stage allowing the audience to select the winner of the #MillionsofChangemakers award.

The Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at Florida International University launched an innovative academic course in partnership with 12 other departments on campus. The course empowered 15 enrolled students to become changemakers and leaders in violence prevention. These students then trained 746 of their peers in a bystander intervention curriculum called ‘Step UP! Step UP!’, designed to ignite a student’s potential to make a difference in their environment and community. Learn More.


Ohio State University, as part of the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme, has engaged 300 faculty, students, and community members in several community-led projects. These projects integrate creative practices, experiential learning, and cross-disciplinary research.  Projects include those focused on peer-to-peer education to address the opiate epidemic, giving voice to community members facing mobility inequities, and extending college credit to incarcerated individuals in 11 Ohio prisons.  Learn More.


Tecnológico de Monterrey’s HUB for innovative social entrepreneurship at Guadalajara has expanded its hugely successful Changemaker Day festival. The Changemaker Day festival is a student-led event over two days that engages hundreds of students in talks, workshops, speed networking and live music that all celebrate changemaking. Over the coming year, seven Mexican cities will host a Changemaker Day festival building off of the original model.  Learn more


Social Entrepreneurship at the University of Virginia has equipped 2,250 changemakers through their three Policy in Action Labs and associated activities.  The labs offer students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom to real-world situations working alongside research faculty, policymakers and community leaders.  Their three Policy in Action labs include their local lab – the New Vinegar Hill Project – which is advancing racial equity and economic mobility in Charlottesville,  their regional lab – Impact Investing in Action: Appalachia, and their global lab – Social Enterprise for Climate Resilience: Dominica.  Learn more.



The six semi-finalists were also selected by a panel of reviewers and along with the finalists will be showcasing their initiatives in a poster session at the Ashoka U Exchange.

Changemaker Challenge at Centennial College


Changemaker Lab at Evergreen State College


Leadership, Ethics and Values program and North Central College


Stimulating Urban Renewal at the University of Houston


Social Bond Innovation Project at UDEM


 Social Innovation engagement at Universidad Santo Thomas


Read more about these commitment makers and the many others who made commitments as part of the #MillionsofChangemakers campaign here.



About #MillionsofChangemakers

#MillionsofChangemakers is Ashoka U’s global call for colleges, universities, and higher education innovators to make commitments to spark and accelerate changemakers of all kinds. Commitment makers will submit progress updates in February 2020, and exceptional commitment makers will receive awards at the 2020 Ashoka U Exchange. 


About Ashoka U

Ashoka U is the higher education initiative of Ashoka – the world’s largest community of changemakers. Since 2008, Ashoka U has worked with more than 500 colleges and universities to help build a world where everyone is a changemaker. 


About Schmidt Futures

Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative, founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, that bets early on people who will make our world better — helping people to achieve more for others by applying advanced science and technology thoughtfully and by working together across fields. 



Join many of the commitment makers at the 2020 Ashoka U Exchange – an annual conference that brings together 600+ higher education innovators, taking place April 16th-18th in Minneapolis. If you can’t attend sign up here to get the link for the livestream on April 18th at 9 am ET and cast your vote!