The Five Types of Changemakers


Michael Lai from Minerva Schools KGI giving a talk at Changemaker Summit SF

Michael Lai from Minerva Schools KGI giving a talk at Changemaker Summit SF

Two years ago, Justin Boogaard conducted interviews with members of Under 30 Changemakers to determine what made a Changemaker.

With less than a 8% acceptance rate, we wondered what made these members unique to the full applicant pool. When applicants asked what we looked for in a member, we could name the values we share, but not the type of person. Justin came up with four types of Changemakers, and I determined the fifth type. Here are our five types of Changemakers:

1. The Artisan

These incredibly skilled artists, engineers, and designers know exactly what they like to do and are masters in their craft. They usually have mastered a skill digitally, such as design, coding, writing, or a handmade skill, such as weaving, cooking, woodcrafting, or pottery. These Artisan Changemakers often safeguard traditional cultures or propel society forward into a digital global age.

Our Changemaker Example:

Frances Soong

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Frances is a UX/UI Designer and product manager working with impactful startups in Silicon Valley. Her design skills allow her to directly tackle issues like gender inequality with Wikimedia Foundation, financial literacy with Credit Sesame, and impact measurement with our very own Under 30 Changemakers. Her skill mastery allows her to contribute to causes she cares about.

2. The Social Driver

These Changemakers are dedicated to furthering the progress of a group of people, usually marginalized or from their local community. They feel a deep sense of responsibility to uplift and empower the group of people they are committed to serving. They are most likely already galvanizing their peer group to affect positive change through organized collaborative efforts.

Our Changemaker Example:

Zak Malamed

Zak is the Founder/Senior Advisor of Student Voice, a nonprofit helping students get heard in the classroom and society. He is a master at mobilizing students to fight for their rights.

He is now using those skills as a Campaign Associate at XQ Institute, otherwise known as The Superschool Project. The mission of the organization is to reinvent a new model of high school learning based on student input.

3. The Explorer

These Changemakers are endlessly curious, constantly trying new experiments to see what works. These are potential social entrepreneurs, usually under the age of 23. They are trying many different projects to see what works and what fails.

Our Changemaker Example

Janelle Tam

Janelle is a current Princeton Undergraduate. After her time as a student researcher at the Abulani Rural Health Foundation, she became more interested in understanding social entrepreneurship.

She is now organizing a group trip of Princeton students this coming spring break to San Francisco so she and others can explore the social enterprise scene further. She hopes to speak to social enterprises of all kind throughout the area to get a better understanding of what it takes to create a sustainable business.

4. The Social Entrepreneur

These Changemakers establish an enterprise with the aim of either solving or alleviating a pressing social issue. They aim to achieve a triple bottom line in their business of people, planet, and profit. They can sell products or services to achieve their business’s mission. They are most likely operating a hybrid business model between standard corporations and non-profits.

Our Changemaker Example:

Daniela Castellanos

Part Artisan and part Social Entrepreneur, Daniela is the creator of Castellano Ethnic Origins, a luxury brand of handmade leather products preserving Wayuu and Arahuaca heritage. She recently raised $£16,733 on Kickstarter with her signature product, Wayuu Backpack.

The Castellano Bags are made by indigenous Colombian women who weave the bags themselves. They are paid a fair wage for their artisan craftsmanship and are encouraged to pass down this skill from generation to generation.

5. The Activist

These are true systemic misfits, including whistleblowers, government defectors, and community mobilizers. They identify institutional injustice, such as xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, disability discrimination, and misogyny. They speak up through writing, speaking, and protesting oppression and systemic injustices. These Changemakers are leading movements like #BlackLivesMatter and spreading awareness on topics like the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Our Changemaker Example:

SF Ali

Farooq (A.K.A SF Ali) is known as Medium’s Resident cheerleader. He writes about topics on mental health and combatting IslamophophiaSome of his writings include pointing out Islamophobia in mainstream social mediaself-care through depression and hypothyroidism, and not pimping out mental illness.

His startup Perennial Millennial, a curation of long-form content tailored to impact-driven Millennials. It also monthly group coaching and seasonal retreats to get to meet other Millennials.

Not sure which type of Changemaker you are? We’re working on a quiz to let you know which type you are in the 2017 new year. Comment below if you’d like to be one of the first to try it out!