High school students from the Philippines were recently named Global Trailblazers by the Harvard Social Innovation Collaborative’s “Village to Raise a Child” (VTRAC) program.
The students pitched their projects in the Igniting Innovation Summit held on Oct. 28 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The Igniting Innovation Summit is the largest undergraduate conference on social innovation in the world, held annually at Harvard.
The VTRAC program—established by the Harvard Social Innovation Collaborative eight years ago—identifies and nurtures young social entrepreneurs from around the globe.
The students, called Global Trailblazers, are selected through a worldwide competition open to any student or group of students enrolled in high school at the time of the contest.
Applicants pitch an innovative idea or a recently initiated project that attempts to solve a community-wide problem. This year, the competition drew 200 entries from various countries.
From this pool of entries, 15 finalists were shortlisted and invited for a Skype interview, after which the five Global Trailblazers for 2018 were selected and flown to Harvard.
Both winners from the Philippines coincidentally come from the Immaculate Conception Academy in San Juan City.
The first winner was an individual student, Julia Ongchoco, and the second was a group composed of Camille Esteban, Maxine Kho, Alexa Loste and Patricia Sioco.
Ongchoco is the founder of GiveLife, an online matching platform that connects donors with recipients requesting for educational and medical assistance, an ongoing project that has made close to 1,000 matches to date.
The winning Filipino group submitted an eco-friendly and organic fire-retardant project idea that uses baking soda and banana peel ash as active paint ingredients.
The other three Global Trailblazers came from Brazil, India and Kenya.
The Global Trailblazers likewise spent one week at Harvard attending various workshops and talks to further develop their projects and hone their speaking and leadership skills.