Pledges For Change

By: Brennan Wong

Human Rights , Activist

One of the last things on most students’ minds is creating social change through financial means. This isn’t necessarily because of a disbelief in altruism, but commonly, a disbelief in our ability to create any sort of impact that could positively affect the lives of others, or not knowing where to begin.

North American youth like me, face a barrage of financial and social pressures that impact our capacity to participate philanthropically -- at least in the context of giving substantial sums of money. While our expectations of a financial future might be optomistic, the truth is, the job market has remained stubbornly challenging for young people. Often burdened with debt, students are impacted when society places a higher value on financial capital versus human capital. Ultimately, it affects how we see ourselves as change-makers.

My vision is to promote “volanthropy= volunteering + philanthropy. Afterall, the two biggest biggest assets youth have to give are our time and our skills.

Pledge's For Change has a unique pledging system that is simple, impactful and raises substantial sums of money.

Young people around the world create their own unique "pledge story" and share it across social and mobile channels. With each pledge received, corporate sponsors and generous donors match and reward the individual’s commitment to positive action with a $1 donation. On a regular basis, Pledges For Change makes donations to a registered charity focused on supporting different areas of need. The more pledges submitted, the more youth are inspired, and the greater the capacity for our generation to create tangible change.

In order to empower young people to rethink their role in charitable causes, we empower circle of friends to reward each other for their own innovative style of giving and creating social change.

Since our launch in the summer of 2013, we've received over 20,000 pledges from youth around the globe. Being that $1-dollar is given by corporate sponsors and generous donors for each pledge received, we've donated $20,000 to various charities thus far. By continuing to live by our philosophy of “volanthropy”, our introduction of new programs and initiatives has also empowered youth to contribute over 25,000 hours of volunteer service. 

Our goal for 2016 is to raise another $20,000 and fund projects that are primarily focused on empowering young people to discover unconventional methods of change-making.

To further scale Pledges For Change, we seek to promote the importance of social justice education in schools across Canada and the United States by partnering with school boards and institutions of learning. By initiating a passion for activism early in students’ lives, we will become a catalyst for change and create a generation of young world change-makers who can understand the role that they can play in advocating for a more just society.

Eventually, our goal is to grow Pledges for Change chapters across the continent and around the world. These chapters will become centers of inspiration for the communities that they are located in. To have Pledges for Change sprout into a global movement of youth joining forces with other youth, taking action and creating a better world would be a dream come true.

 

The general public can help support this project the following ways:

PRIORITY #1: Submit Your Own Pledge!

our organization has donated over $20,000 to local and international charities helping support those suffering from a multitude of local and global issues


PRIORITY #2: Donate!

Donate and help us match pledges from around the world!


PRIORITY #3: Apply to our SocialGood Lab!

100% of your donation will go towards our commitment of matching pledges to action or supporting new Pledges for Change programs and initiatives.


Team Members

  • Brennan Wong

    Founder and Executive Director

    In the past two years I’ve been given incredible opportunities.  I’ve served on the advisory board of FreeThe Children; I’ve become a member of Ryerson University’s SocialVentures Zone and Western University’s Propel Entrepreneurship Centre; and I’ve been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 20 Under 20, an award bestowed on 20 Canadians under the age of 20 for exceptional leadership in making the world a better place. But out of all this, what I’ve most enjoyed is speaking to high school students and educators in Canada and the U.S., empowering thousands of young people to challenge themselves to create real, positive change in their lives and their communities.

Impact

The dream of minga-making vs fund-raising

Jan. 6, 2016

My passion for empowering young people to create change started with $50, a goat and a dream. 

After I learned from my fourth grade teacher that I could purchase a goat for a family in Kenya to provide them with a source of sustainable, alternative income, it dawned on me that I could share my philanthropic goal by appealing to my peers to also become compassionate global citizens. 

I did that by making "fund-raising" my birthday theme from that moment on. 

Still, the emphasis was on money, and it wouldn't be until the summer of 2012 that I would discover "minga."

"Minga" is an Equadorian concept that describes a collaborative work shared by people who give of their time, expertise and/or money for the betterment of a community outcome.

When I was volunteering in Ecuador with Me To We, I witnessed an incredibly powerful act of camaraderie and good-will as villagers came together to finish building a new school which our volunteer team had been unable to complete due to bad weather.

People came from miles around to help even though as individuals, they could not direcly or personally benefit. With the common good as the overriding objective, minga is the approach to philanthropy which I most seek to teach my peers.

With limited government budgets, citizens must become more directly engaged in solving these problems. Where ideas, inspiration and compassion from everyday people have traditionally been overlooked in the search for solutions, Pledges for Change seeks to empower people to unlock their potential and resourcefulness; and come forward with actionable ideas.  I believe that members of the community are best equipped to offer solutions at a grass-root level with suggestions on the most efficient allocation of resources. My organizationa and I will support the idealism and commitment of people by making donations on their behalf, creating tangible results that anyone can feel good about.

This organization was born from a dream, where people would celebrate the power of other people, and work in unison to become the generation that makes change possible. 

Here is a TEDx I gave in December 2013 to describe the butterfly effect of my own small experiences in building a movement!

Make A Difference Together!

Jan. 5, 2016

The key to creating change is making a difference together. However, I often felt alone during the early stages of my journey, as many people believed it was impossible for a young person with no job and not finished his education to create a positive impact worthwhile of all the time and effort that would need to be spent. Although I tried my best to not be devastated by the skepticism from some of the people closest to me, I became afraid that they were right, and that my dream of a better world was simply a waste of time and an unachievable reality. 

Soon enough, it became clear to me that I was not ready to give up on my dream to find a solution to the cause that I was most passionate about. I was ready to take action, despite the slim chance that I would actually do something that could have an impact. 

But once I took that single action, more and more young people began to believe in themselves, and started to volunteer too. What started as a single action became a movement of many, and it became clear that regardless of the challenges that I had faced from the lack of support from my community, it was all about the inner passion and willingness that would ultimately drive change. The lesson that I took away from this experience was to always believe in ourselves, and to never succumb to the pressures of others. 

What continues to motivate me to this day is a quote by Steve Jobs: “the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” Some people may regard youth who wish to make a difference in their community as the misfits. But if only we had a lot of crazy youth would the world be a much better place for all.

By October 26, 2014, this was our impact:

When we were 1 years old!

July 12, 2014

This is a look back when Pledges For Change turned one years old:

Rogers TV Daytime York Region Interview

March 11, 2014

Our 1st Promo

Jan. 4, 2014

Our first promotional video was released on January 4th, 2014!  


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