What is the Power of Youth Challenge?

The 5th Promise in Action

The Power of Youth Challenge provides resources and support for young people as they demonstrate their leadership and execute their passions through service to others.  

The Power of Youth Challenge builds on the optimism and activism of young people to launch sustainable change. We believe that putting young people in the position to lead through service is a critical element to sparking change on a national (and international) level. With a generous grant from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation , we have provided more than 230 mini-grants directly to young people for youth-led service projects in their communities. Through these projects, young people have made a meaningful impact in communities across the country by—from projects focused on older community members to those focused on supporting the very young. 

The following components are central to the Challenge: 



  #1) putting young people in the driver’s seat, from conceptualization to execution;



#2) offering virtual guidance 
from their peers when they get stuck;




#3)  providing financial resources up front when they really need them.

Youth Leaders

Youth-Led, Youth-Designed

The #PowerofYouth Challenge is designed and powered by youth for youth. Young people who have had some experience with service have shaped this initiative to encourage others to serve. 

The Youth Steering Committee was the design team, identifying what they needed as they got started and creating avenues for coaching others to act on their passions. They were joined by a larger Youth Council who reviewed applications and offered suggestions about how to make the grantees’ applications strong enough to qualify for the $250 mini grant. 

Youth Steering Committee 


Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Abdellatif



Preetam Bhutani



Alan Cruz




Aric Hamilton



Sanah Jivani



Elizabeth Zalanga


Youth Coaches


Ina Bhoopalam


Vishnu Karthik

Sierra WIlliams-MacLeod

Sierra Williams-McLeod

Andrea Moran Melendez

Andrea Moran Melendez



Britt Masback


Sokhnadiarra Ndiaye


Isabella Tejeda

How it worked

Year one:

The first year of the Challenge was scaffolded by youth-adult support systems in schools, afterschool networks, and youth service networks through which young people had online access and in-person adult support. Peace First was our lead partner in Year One, leveraging a powerful online mentoring platform designed by young people and an experienced support team to aid applicants. 

Young people by the thousands responded. They chose their own issues, receiving coaching and encouragement from their peers when needed to support their project development. 86 projects received $250 mini-grants  to make it happen, with 9 winners being selected to receive $1,000 acceleration grants to further grow and extend the reach of their projects. 

Year two:

The second year of the Challenge began with a massive disruption of the systems and structures upon which young people and their families rely, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The trauma was compounded by a number of incidents that laid bare once again the systemic issues of racism and inequity that are an ever-present reality in the lives of so many young people. 

The entire Challenge was re-designed by young people who were at the center of these intersecting crises. A team of experienced young leaders re-designed the Challenge and stepped up as coaches for their peers. We now have 150 youth-designed and youth-led solutions to some of the most vexing problems our communities face—from social justice and racial discrimination to mental health, safety, and education. 

Accelerated Projects

The nine accelerated projects were selected in year one to accelerate progress with an additional $1,000 grant by a team of youth leaders at Peace First, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping young people around the world become powerful peacemakers. They looked for youth who had deepened their understanding of the root causes of a problem; demonstrated perseverance, compassion, and understanding for others’ perspectives; and were having a significant positive impact for and with the people who were affected by the community issue they chose to tackle.

Power of Youth Challenge State by State

Youth lead, youth designed projects across the country.

Youth Videos



Dhruv P., age 16

is from Montgomery County, Maryland. Dhruv, with a friend, founded Teens Helping Seniors – a volunteer service for providing groceries and essential supplies to elderly and vulnerable people during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dhruv is an avid singer and is actively involved in virtual choir projects as a high school fellow of the National Philharmonic choir group and as a member of the Strathmore Children’s Chorus in Maryland.

Learn more



Dyson C., age 19

started researching the environmental threat pollution poses to the world at-large, Dyson decided to address this social injustice. In an effort to reduce the use of single-use plastics contributing to plastic pollution in Hawaii, Dyson created a project to lessen society’s dependence on plastics. In total, 93 people took up Dyson’s challenge to not use single-use plastic straws and instead use stainless steel straws that the project distributed. By regularly visiting classrooms and community events, Project O.C.E.A.N. addressed a lack of education on why plastic pollution is a problem.  

Learn more




Latest News

America’s Promise Awards 150 Grants to Youth
WASHINGTON, D.C. – America’s Promise Alliance announced today 150 recipients of COVID-19 Response Grants as part of the Power of Youth Challenge—an initiative to provide young people who are making a
America’s Promise Highlights the Work of 10 Power of Youth Challenge Grant Winners
In recent months, our nation has been gripped by uncertainty and fear.
Public Service in the Time of COVID-19
America’s Promise Alliance has launched a new set of mini-grants as part of the Power of Youth Challenge.
Power of Youth Challenge: America’s Promise Awards 10 Winners with $1,000 to Expand their Service Projects and Bring Positive Impacts to their Communities
Last year, America’s Promise Alliance launched the Power of Youth Challenge to encourage and inspire youth-led service projects around the country.
America’s Promise Announces 10 ‘Power of Youth Challenge’ Winners
America’s Promise Announces 10 ‘Power of Youth Challenge’ Winners
This Thanksgiving week, America’s Promise Alliance announced 10 winners in the Power of Youth Challenge, which provides $1,000 grants to young people to identify a challenge in their own community, devise a solution, and carry out their own service projects around the country.

Latest Resources

WEBINAR: Power of Youth-Strengthening Your Application
Youth couches share ways that youth can help strengthening their projects.
Coronavirus Disease CDC Social Distancing Guidelines
Get information on symptoms, testing, what to do if you are sick, and at risk groups. Find tips for managing your daily life, including going out, running errands, and coping with stress.
Peacemaking Tools
To help you during your Peacemaking journey, Peace First has created a series of tools that support each of the steps along this journey. While these steps are laid out linearly, they won’t get lived that way. You may jump back and forth between planning and acting. You might get part way…