NEW YORK, October 27, 2020 – Today, Comic Relief US is thrilled to announce the launch of its inaugural Youth Advisory Council, comprised of eight trail-blazing young leaders from across the US and around the world.
Over the next year, Council Members will work alongside Comic Relief US’s grantmaking team to inform the organization’s Red Nose Day grants portfolio across four pillars, ensuring children are safe, healthy, educated and empowered, with greater opportunities to thrive. In addition, each Council Member will receive a stipend, access to training and mentorship, shared learning opportunities with their peers, and the opportunity to co-develop a seed funding program for youth-led organizations. This new participatory grantmaking strategy further enhances Comic Relief US’s commitment to innovative approaches to achieve the organization’s mission of a just world free from poverty.
“Poverty is a complex and global issue. To address it effectively, we must account for the ways that gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, migrant status and other aspects of identity intersect and differentiate the experience of poverty across the globe,” said Lorelei Williams, Senior Vice President of Grants Programs, Comic Relief US. “In today’s increasingly globalized world, it is critical that the ideation of solutions to tackle poverty and the implementation of those solutions be done in an inclusive manner. The creation of the Youth Advisory Council enables Comic Relief US to engage with and learn from an incredible group of young leaders who have committed their lives to social change, while further enhancing the organization’s grants program.”
Inaugural Council Members include:
- Giuliana Bryan Alvarez is a 23-year-old Colombian political scientist and community leader who has represented African-descendent and Indigenous Colombian youth across a number of areas. She is currently an ambassador of the One Young World organization, and serves as a project coordinator for youth and community empowerment at Manos Visibles (Visible Hands), a non-profit organization in Colombia.
- Olja Busbaher, 24, immigrated to the U.S. in 1997 with her family as a refugee following the ethnic genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This experience and her multi-cultural background inspired Olja to devote her career to the promotion of education access, refugee rights and gender equality in the U.S. and internationally. She is currently a Grants Associate at the Malala Fund.
- Fardosa Hussein is a 25-year-old documentary photographer and filmmaker based in Somalia whose work ranges from covering humanitarian crises to everyday life in Kenya and Somalia. She is also a mentee at Women Photograph and is Action Against Hunger’s Communications Manager in Somalia.
- Rattana Mai, a 23-year-old from Siem Reap, Cambodia, faced poverty and struggled to access quality education from a young age. Today, he serves as a Scholarship Project Officer at PEPY Empowering Youth, an organization helping young Cambodians from rural areas to continue their studies so that they can pursue careers, improve their quality of life, and uplift their communities.
- Jordan Ott, an 18-year-old Native American of the Sac-n-Fox Tribe of Oklahoma, is currently enrolled at Haskell Indian Nations University. Jordan’s vision for the future is to help his community and other youth achieve their goals regardless of their circumstances. Jordan has focused his advocacy in his community on the issues of mental health and is passionate about de-stigmatizing it.
- Alexis Ramon, raised in New York City, is a 16-year-old senior at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire where he leads two affinity groups for underrepresented communities. Inspired by the challenges he faced growing up in Queens, New York, Alexis feels it’s his duty to give back to his community and support children who, today, may face the same childhood hardships. Alexis is an alum of Prep for Prep.
- Julia Song, a 19-year-old filmmaker and student from Los Angeles, began filmmaking in 2016 when she became a Ghetto Film School LA Fellow. Through filmmaking, Julia hopes to voice the narratives of underrepresented stories with authenticity. Julia will be attending NYU Tisch in 2021 to study film and art history.
- Shamyah Williams, 18, is an established public speaker with a passion for creating change on a global scale. Growing up in the Figure Skating in Harlem program, she found her passion and purpose in being a voice and representation of girls of color like her in a sport that is predominantly white. Shamyah currently attends Howard University, where she studies Mechanical Engineering.
"Comic Relief US’s new Youth Advisory Council is just one of the ways that we are striving to bring new voices and fresh perspectives into our grantmaking as we build out our new impact strategy," said Alison Moore, CEO of Comic Relief US. “Young people are not passively waiting by to be the decision-makers of tomorrow, they are a powerful force, and creating extraordinary change right now, today. We’re thrilled to be welcoming eight amazing young leaders to our first-ever Youth Advisory Council, and I cannot wait to work with each one of them.”
The Youth Advisory Council launch video was created in partnership with Digital Bodega, a creative Bronx-based firm led by alumni from Ghetto Film School.