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People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

Youth Leadership Prize winner, Wawira Njiru delivers acceptance speech on stage during the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 on Dec. 2, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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Everything You Need to Know About the Cisco Youth Leadership Award and How to Apply

Why Global Citizens Should Care
Global Citizen campaigns to achieve the United Nations' Global Goals to end extreme poverty by 2030. The Cisco Youth Leadership Award embodies that aim because it exists to celebrate the amazing young people driving change in their communities and around the world. Join the movement by taking action here to help end extreme poverty.

Applications are now open for the 2020 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award. Find out more and apply here.


Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, young people around the world have continued to step up, take action, and rally around causes that help their communities.

In December, Global Citizen will be recognizing the hard work of these change-makers and celebrating the world’s top activists at the Global Citizen Prize ceremony. The event honors people that have dedicated their lives to ending poverty and that have had a huge impact through the work they do.

One particularly special prize, the Cisco Youth Leadership Award, was launched in 2018 to highlight the amazing work undertaken by young people around the world towards achieving the United Nations’ Global Goals.

Whether they are designing apps for expectant mothers, running schools for street children, or helping lift micro-entrepreneurs out of poverty, previous finalists have proven that thinking outside the box and being inventive can lead to dramatic change, and it’s work like this that is leading to a better future.

The Cisco Youth Leadership Award is awarded through an application process — which opened on Monday — and comes with a grant to help the winner and their organization take their work even further.

Here’s everything you need to know about the award and how to apply.

What is the Cisco Youth Leadership Award?

The Cisco Youth Leadership Award is an annual award that was presented for the first time in 2018 to honor a young change-maker helping to create a better world for all.

It is awarded in partnership with the technology firm Cisco, a global partner of Global Citizen, and goes to an individual between the ages of  18 and 30 who has taken an innovative approach to solving problems, and who has made a meaningful difference towards the goal of ending poverty in their community.

The prize includes a $250,000 award which goes to the winner’s organization — either a business, social enterprise, or nonprofit.

Related Stories Aug. 17, 2020 Cisco 4 Things the Winner of the First Cisco Youth Leadership Award Has Learned

How is the winner selected? 

Although the prize money goes to the winner’s organization, an applicant must apply as an individual.

The winner of the 2020 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award will be someone who can demonstrate measurable impact of their work over the last three to five years, and who has advanced one or more of the Global Goals, which aim to bring an end to extreme poverty.

The winner will have also increased the efficiency and reach of their work by making use of technology and digital communication.

The prize is about looking forward: how can the winner’s work be scaled up? What will the prize money help with? Candidates need to present a compelling vision for the next three to five years and detail how the prize will help them to achieve those plans. 

Who has won in the past?

In 2019, 28-year-old health entrepreneur Priya Prakash, was awarded the prize in recognition of her work launching HealthSetGo, an organization that works to improve access to health information, which has impacted the lives of 200,000 children in schools in India. HealthSetGo empowers doctors, parents, schools, and governments to make data-driven decisions about children’s health care, improving early detection and treatment rates. 

In 2018, the prize went to Wawira Njiru, the 28-year-old founder and executive director of Food for Education, an organization that provides nutrient-rich lunches to underprivileged primary school children in Kenya to combat widespread hunger in the region. 

Related Stories Nov. 12, 2019 Meet the 5 Extraordinary Finalists for the 2019 Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award

What else do you need to know?

Applications open for submissions on Aug. 17 at 10 a.m. ET and close on Sept. 20 at 11:59 p.m. ET. You can apply here.

The application consists of five parts:

1) An ‘About You’ section containing basic personal and organizational information; 
2) Your pitch on why you should be awarded the prize in a two- to three-minute video; 
3) Written answers to five questions about your work; 
4) A description of how your work aligns with the judging criteria in 250 words or less;
5) Additional information about your organization, including proof of its registration.

You don’t have to be a founder or CEO of an organization to apply, it can go to anyone who has had an impact and is all about showing leadership.

More details on exactly how the application process works and the judging criteria can be found on the application page here.