Home Culture Prudential Financial empowers young changemakers with $15,000 each at Emerging Visionaries Summit

Prudential Financial empowers young changemakers with $15,000 each at Emerging Visionaries Summit

Prudential Financial empowers young changemakers with ,000 each at Emerging Visionaries Summit

Prudential Financial empowers young changemakers with $15,000 each at Emerging Visionaries Summit

Hoda Kotb and Sebastian Tan at the 2024 Prudential Emerging Visionaries Summit.
Grand Prize Winner Remy Tsukahira (CA)
Hoda Kotb and Remy Tsukahira at the 2024 Prudential Emerging Visionaries Summit.
Employees’ Choice Award Winner Sreenidi Bala (CT)
Hoda Kotb and Sreenidi Bala at the 2024 Prudential Emerging Visionaries Summit.

Presented by Prudential Financial in partnership with the social entrepreneurship network Ashoka and with advisory support from the Financial Health Network, the Emerging Visionaries program honors young people ages 14-18 from the United States and internationally. These individuals are selected from a wide pool of impressive candidates for their leadership in crafting fresh, innovative solutions to today’s financial and societal challenges.  

“You are joining a community we want to help grow  a community of young people working to create positive change around the world,” said Prudential Chairman and CEO Charles Lowrey. “Thank you for your hard work and for setting such an inspiring example.”

Each of the 25 national winners, named in February, earned a $5,000 award and an all-expenses-paid trip to this week’s Emerging Visionaries Summit. The summit included an awards ceremony, where winners were celebrated by co-anchor of NBC’s “Today” show, Hoda Kotb. The students also consulted with Prudential senior leaders on the topics of strategy and impact and worked with Prudential employee coaches, who helped them refine and advance their projects. 

During one of the liveliest segments of the event, five of this year’s winners were selected as grand prize finalists and given the opportunity to pitch their ideas for advancing financial equity to a panel of judges. The prize: an additional $10,000. The judges included Lowrey, leaders from Ashoka and the Financial Health Network, as well as two program alumni.

The judges were tasked with selecting one grand prize winner from the five finalists. However, after hearing how impactful the finalists have been in promoting financial inclusion, the judges unanimously decided to award $10,000 to each of the five presenters, who received a total of $15,000 each. 

In addition, employees voted to name an Employees’ Choice Award winner, who was awarded an additional $5,000 to support their work. 

Read on to learn about the five grand prize winners and the Employees’ Choice Award winner:  

Grand prize winner: Michael Brode, 17, of Winterville, North Carolina, is the founder of “Crypto Debunked,” an immersive learning platform that teaches young people about financial topics such as cryptocurrency and blockchain to bridge the financial education gap facing young people in underserved communities. 

Growing up in a rural town with a large percentage of the population living at or below the poverty level, Brode saw financial literacy as a way for individuals to “create new wealth-building opportunities and foster an entrepreneurial mindset.” As a result, he created age-appropriate, easily accessible resources for young people such as online courses, a mobile application, blogs and a book. Brode has partnered with 15 schools and 25 nonprofit organizations to incorporate his cryptocurrency and financial education curriculum into their offerings, reaching more than 5,500 young people.   
For additional photos and b-roll footage: https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/c5f2cf55-b9b2-417a-4ed9-4a25bcc3646a

Grand prize winner: Jonathan De Caro, 16, of Moodus, Connecticut, founded “One Loan Fund,” a financial platform that provides microloans to unbanked rural women in Latin America with the goal of fostering economic mobility, inclusion and sustainable financial health.  

“As a Brazilian, I was always invested in the economics of Latin America and wanting to create a change through taking action,” De Caro says. He decided to focus on working with rural women because of the important role they play in the labor force, education and public and family health. Many women who receive microloans from One Loan Fund start their own ventures, developing a long-term source of income that enables them to attain financial well-being. So far, De Caro has connected a network of more than 300 women to vital financial resources, fostering empowerment and opportunity within their communities.   
For additional photos and b-roll footage: https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/208201fd-0a31-4fbb-6b14-78041e02b387

Grand prize winner: Caden Harris, 14, of Stonecrest, Georgia, is the founder of “Financial Literacy for All,” a program on wheels that aims to create a world in which financial literacy is integrated into the curriculum of every school and is accessible to all young people. Financial Literacy for All operates a financial literacy bus that travels the country hosting events that teach students the importance of fiscal responsibility.  

Harris first heard the term financial literacy when sitting in on one of his father’s business meetings. He wasn’t familiar with the concept and realized that many high schoolers have little to no financial literacy knowledge. He began learning about finance and started his initiative to help communities overcome economic disparities and ensure that all young people can access the knowledge they need to plan their financial futures. Since founding his project five years ago, Harris has visited dozens of schools across the nation on his financial literacy bus and taught over 10,000 kids.   
For additional photos and b-roll footage: https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/305f1415-4104-4f92-41a5-179e592fa402

Grand prize winner: Sebastian Tan, 16, of Sewickley, Pennsylvania, is the founder of “OutsideConnection,” an online job site that drives economic opportunity for previously incarcerated individuals by allowing them to search for open positions at businesses and make meaningful contributions to their local communities.  

As a child, Tan grew up working at his family’s bakery alongside a diverse group of employees, some of whom had been incarcerated. “Our reentrants have become more than just employees; they’ve become our family,” he says. Tan’s project is working to prevent reincarceration by creating pathways to employment. OutsideConnection uses manual and artificial intelligence to collect and sort jobs, creating a searchable online marketplace for reentrants. Currently, the site hosts opportunities from more than 40 companies in 17 states.   
For additional photos and b-roll footage: https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/dbda1dec-e53f-4365-577a-c45012f2102c

Grand prize winner: Remy Tsukahira, 17, of Los Angeles, is the founder of “Artemis Girls Business Academy,” a network connecting teen girls to professional women mentors that expands access to the information, connections and skills needed to pursue careers in business and entrepreneurship. 

Tsukahira has experienced firsthand the challenges of accessing the resources and connections needed to pursue her dream career. “I knew that if I was feeling this way, there had to be other girls going through the same thing  so why not help each other by sharing resources, information and access?” she says. Artemis Girls Business Academy works to support the next generation of women leaders in business by offering resources, including informational interviews and a speaker series. The network currently operates on a national level and is expanding through a chapter model.  
For additional photos and b-roll footage: https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/675a99ea-4d88-4199-73c7-325662e8b3a8

Employees’ Choice Award winner: Sreenidi Bala, 16, of Farmington, Connecticut, is the founder of “Code for All Minds,” a computer science program for neurodivergent students that provides educators and families with a curriculum to make STEM career paths a possibility for young people with learning disabilities. 

Growing up, Bala’s best friend had autism, so she often helped in her school’s Special Learning Classroom. “Despite students’ talents and verbal abilities, all of them were being prepared for careers in labor-intensive industries; there were no STEM opportunities available,” says Bala. This realization started her on the journey to create STEM resources that use learning strategies best suited for students with autism. Since Code for All Minds launched, many students with special needs in Bala’s school district have been inspired to pursue technical post-graduate programs.  
For additional photos and b-roll footage: https://shared-assets.adobe.com/link/7aa98458-2b6e-45fd-7f6b-a868c9020775

To learn more about Prudential Emerging Visionaries and all 25 national winners, visit prudential.com/emergingvisionaries.

About Prudential Financial
Prudential Financial, Inc. (NYSE: PRU), a financial wellness leader and premier active global investment manager, has operations in the United States, Asia, Europe and Latin America. Prudential’s diverse and talented employees help to make lives better by creating financial opportunity for more people. Prudential’s iconic Rock symbol has stood for strength, stability, expertise and innovation for more than a century. For more information, please visit news.prudential.com.

About Ashoka
Ashoka is the largest global network of leading social entrepreneurs — individuals with new ideas to systemically address the world’s biggest challenges and the entrepreneurial skill to transform those ideas into national, regional and global social impact. Over 40 years, Ashoka has supported more than 3,600 social entrepreneurs in 90 countries with solutions addressing society’s most pressing issues. Ashoka’s vision is a world in which everyone is a changemaker — a society that responds quickly and effectively to challenges, and in which every individual has the freedom, confidence and societal support to address any social problem. For more information, visit ashoka.org.

SOURCE The Prudential Insurance Company of America

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