A bright idea from Christine Cannon ’23 might indeed light up the world during these dark days. The Reimagine Challenge, sponsored by Schmidt Futures, is certain of it, naming her among 20 college and university students around the world with the most innovative solutions to build back from COVID-19 and spark global movements for change. The competition awards each winner up to $25,000 for tuition costs.
Cannon, a molecular biology major who hails from Excelsior, Minnesota, addressed this topic question: "What is one concrete way that you could motivate 1,000,000 people to work in concert to make the world meaningfully better within 10 years?" That spark of inspiration led to her proposal of the virtual platform WeCan, a centralized hub for social justice movements that connects movement leaders, members and subgroups of activists.
On the app, individuals will be able to receive updates and action items from the movements they care about most in one centralized feed, Cannon says. Additionally, they will be able to create group message communities with friends and family where they each share action items they are planning to support movements they are passionate about. They will be able to both check these actions off as they complete them and be accountable for staying engaged, she says.
Cannon saw that many of the pressing issues in the world are often interconnected, she says. For example, the intersection of systemic racism and climate change in issues of environmental justice.
“I wanted to come up with some idea that could help us make progress on all these issues at once. I realized that one feature that major societal challenges have in common is that they can seem insurmountable, and it is often difficult to know how an individual can begin to make a difference,” Cannon says.
“I am excited to bring this vision to life and know that thoughtfully using the power of social media, which WeCan aims to do, will help us make a world that is more sustainable and more just.”
About Schmidt Futures
Schmidt Futures bets early on exceptional people making the world better. Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that brings talent together into networks, bets on the most promising ideas through competition, and equips people to scale through partners and thoughtful application of modern tools.
About Reimagine Challenge 2020
The Reimagine Challenge competition is sponsored by Schmidt Futures, and part of a broader $1 billion commitment to identify and support global talent. Launched in August 2020, Schmidt Futures received 838 submissions from students enrolled in 264 schools in 40 different countries, representing 86 nationalities and speaking 53 primary languages.