Our 2023 Highlights

As we bid farewell to 2023, we reflect on a year filled with growth, innovation, and positive impact. At ChangeX, our commitment to driving positive change in communities is stronger than ever, and this year, it’s allowed us to expand our reach more globally, diversify our network of social innovators and support the next generation of changemakers.

Reaching new horizons

In 2023, ChangeX grew significantly, venturing into four new countries, Canada, Germany, South Africa and Ukraine, while continuing to deepen our impact across Latin America, the US and Europe. In total, we funded 1,125 projects and directly impacted 380,650 people. This expansion wasn’t just about covering more ground; it was a focused effort to connect with diverse communities globally.

As part of our ongoing partnership with the LEGO Foundation, we launched funds for the first time in South Africa and Ukraine. The realities of conflict, displacement, and the ongoing disruption of daily life in Ukraine creates an urgent need for spaces and activities that provide solace and a sense of normalcy, especially for children. Play, in this context can become a powerful tool for healing, resilience, and emotional recovery.

Natalia Shepel started a KABOOM! project in Ukraine, creating a “Rainbow” room, which serves as a playful meeting space for children and the adults in their lives.

“36 children visited the room today. And this means 25 families, dads and moms, grandparents – that’s 75 adults will rejoice with us, because their children and grandchildren received incredibly bright and joyful emotions from playing and communicating in the “Rainbow” room…Children put together puzzles, solved riddles, and some simply hugged their animals. It’s joyful eyes, it’s bright feelings, it’s an incredible New Year’s holiday. Thank you to everyone who financed, accompanied, helped and supported.”

Natalia Shepel, Novoukrainsky District, Ukraine

A robotics project, spearheaded by Lis Zacho in Frederiksberg, Denmark is helping children with special needs discover their innate curiosity and unlock their capabilities.

“When you’re in a special needs class, you tend to work only with the children you’re used to. So it was a goal of mine to spread the children out more widely and to show them how talented they were. I wanted to show them they can do something completely different.”

– Lis Zacho, Frederiksberg

New social innovations and themes 

In 2023, we added 50 new proven ideas to the ChangeX platform, spanning the themes of environment and sustainability, education and skills, play, and inclusion, diversity, and equity, providing new options for community leaders to take action on the issues that matter to them.

Almost half of these new ideas contributed to the expanding play portfolio, which now boasts a total of 51 initiatives, with the percentage originating from developing countries, including South Africa, Brazil and Ukraine, increasing from 24% in 2022, to 42% in 2023. This is a further reflection of our global expansion, but it also emphasises the importance of play in diverse cultural contexts.

Proven innovations form the backbone of our approach to creating meaningful change. As we move forward, our commitment to identifying, supporting, and scaling the work of our network of social innovators remains a key priority, ensuring that our collective efforts continue to make a tangible impact on a global scale.

Inclusion, diversity and equity (ID&E)

This year, we partnered with AWS on their Global ID&E Fund, to support global community efforts to actively disrupt social inequities, encourage autonomy and provide financial resources to address some of the world’s most persistent challenges.

The ID&E Fund supported 24 community projects across 13 countries, including Senegal, Costa Rica, South Korea and India. 

Olatunde Olowe was one of the grant recipients and they used the funding to create and manage a solar-powered borehole for the people of Ejigbo in Osun State, Nigeria.

“The schools around [the project] have recorded a rise in the attention of many of the students and more compliance in their assignments and homework. This is because most of their time at home was dedicated to having to trek long-distance to fetch water.”

Olatunde Olowe, Nigeria

Another impactful project that received funding was ‘Women Together Rise’. Located in Mexico City, this project was designed to support Casa de las Muñecas Tiresias, which provides trans and LGBTQ+ women and femmes with housing support and healthcare. They cater to a population that has many physical and mental healthcare needs, so receiving the grant was instrumental in being able to continue offering life-affirming services to more than 140 vulnerable people. 

“We have managed to transform a space that, prior to the project, had very deteriorated equipment and was suitable for replacement. Because of the failure of the water tank, Casa Paola’s residents had to bathe with water buckets. They increased the quality of the services and security they provided including the cyber school, kitchen, administrative office and house patio.”

Casa de las Muñecas Tiresias team, Mexico City

Steadfast commitment to environmental sustainability

Although we’ve diversified the range of social innovations on ChangeX, supporting communities to take action on environmental sustainability and climate change remains a top priority. Around the world, we continue to see communities invested in grassroots action to protect and preserve the planet. In September, supported by ServiceNow, we added higher impact climate ideas to the ChangeX platform, designed to contribute in a meaningful way to reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change.

As part of the ServiceNow Community Improvement Funds, six schools in Germany received funding and support to start Solar for Schools Education projects educating children in Munich, Würzburg and Friedberg about the power of renewable energy.

In Ireland, two community groups received funding and support to start Bike Library projects, promoting active travel and reducing carbon emissions. An additional two community groups received funding and support to plant Pocket Forests, transforming urban spaces while supporting thriving soil, biodiversity, climate resilience and natural habitat networks. 

Another example of communities leading on climate action was the Strathmore High School community, who created an Accessible Off-Grid Community Greenhouse as part of the AWS InCommunities Calgary Fund. This project brings together sustainability education, regenerative agriculture and a respect for Indigenous wisdom and cultivation practices. Cole Hintz, community leader had this to say about their plans leading into the new year:

“The Strathmore High School Community Greenhouse is moving into its first winter after our first full growing season. We used 2023 to landscape the area around the dome into something that is demonstrative, sustainable and a collaboration between community and school. We continue to produce around 20lbs of fresh produce each week that is being distributed through the Wheatland County Food Bank. Community groups have used the space for a diverse range of learning opportunities and there are lots of interesting projects planned for 2024 including a rainwater harvesting demonstration, native pollinator habitats and some more intentional spaces connecting western and Indigenous perspectives.”

– Cole Hintz, Calgary

In Ireland, the team at Sustainable Enniscorthy’s FreshWater Watch project continue to test and monitor the Slaney River, with the goal of preserving it as a thriving natural resource for generations to come.

“One of the goals of Sustainable Enniscorthy is to highlight the importance of the Slaney for the community as a blue space and reinforce the importance of maintaining good quality water for the Town.”

Team at Sustainable Enniscorthy

After an unprecedented year of climate-related crises felt globally, we’re even more dedicated to scaling solutions and funding grassroots action in order to have a meaningful impact on our climate.

Cultivating the next generation of changemakers

We’ve always believed anyone can be a changemaker, regardless of their age and this year, we teamed up with Nickelodeon to support their Our World initiative helping kids to realise their agency and become the changemakers our communities need. 

The Nickelodeon funds collectively received more than 350 applications across the US, UK and Mexico and we were excited to fund 86 kid-led teams who are currently leading impactful projects in their communities, including Little Free Pantries, School Gardens and Community Fridges.

Carol Harris from Chickasaw, Alabama is excited about the progress of the Open Orchard project she started with kids in her community. 

“We have planted 10 trees in our community orchard and plan to plant 10 more as they become available. Our youth have learned a lot about the care and upkeep of our trees in our community. The trees we planted will hopefully start to bear fruit next season. We will care and tend to them through the winter.”

Carol Harris, Chickasaw, Alabama

As part of our commitment to supporting young changemakers, we added a number of social innovations focused around agency and empowerment for kids. Examples include Earth Ranger Teens and Earth Cubs, two innovative programs designed to actively involve kids and teenagers in climate action, supporting them to take charge of their environment and lead impactful community initiatives.

Looking to 2024

From new partnerships, to further expanding our global footprint and deepening our impact in existing communities, we look forward to all that’s to come in 2024. Our commitment to scaling ideas globally and supporting communities remains stronger than ever, with further expansion planned in Asia, Africa and Europe. We’re so thankful to you, our community of changemakers, for sticking with us on this journey. 

Thanks to our funding partners, investors and advisers for believing in our mission and working with us to give more power to communities across the world. 

As always, if you have questions about ChangeX or would like to get involved in starting a project, scaling an idea or funding a community project, please reach out to us at [email protected].  

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