Members of the Millennial Generation are predisposed to start organizations and businesses, with 15% doing so right out of college, an increase of 300% from 20 years ago. Here are the stories of seven people under 30 who are making this kind of impact from Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World.
In the 2008 and 2012 elections, this generation played a decisive role, with some of the highest turnout levels in history for young voters. But Millennials across America are also playing a role in transforming communities through localized civic action—people such as Lily Liu, the 29-year-old founder & CEO of PublicStuff, which has developed a platform for citizens to report problems they see in their towns and cities. Liu's work also helps streamline local government bureaucracy and town hall offices. "We are creating tools that will ultimately change how we communicate with our government. Our goal is to create tools that help people and government work together to create real-world action," Liu says. They’ve already implemented the solution in several major cities including Philadelphia and Dayton, Ohio. Innovative approaches to politics are also on display in forgotten parts of small town America like Wilmington, Ohio, where during the recession, unemployment was as high as 18%. Mark Rembert, 28 and Taylor Stuckert, 27, founded Energize Clinton County in order to revitalize the area. They’ve brought green jobs to the region, set up a campaign to promote the value of buying locally, and they are bringing young people back to train business owners in the skills of the 21st century economy. In just a few years, their work has helped bring Wilmington back from the brink.
As members of the most global generation in history, Millennials have a keen awareness of the world around them. Some 80% say they plan to spend some significant portion of their time living or working overseas. Just as they are aware of the positives of the world’s connectedness, they are also aware of the world’s globally connected troubles. Maggie Doyne, 26, who grew up in suburban New Jersey, took a trip to Nepal after graduating from high school, where she saw the terrible conditions of orphans there. After asking her parents to send her life savings to her in Nepal, she began building a school and a refuge, which today is home to 50 children. Maggie represents a new breed of global activists who believe they have the potential to go halfway across the world and actually be part of the solution to our world's most pressing problems.
No one is affected more by our nation’s education problems than our young people. For almost a decade, Millennials have been applying to Teach for America in record numbers. Now many in this generation are going to the next step and creating their own organizations to provide solutions to stem the education crisis. Michael Carter, 24, founded Strive For College, which aims to get low income students who are strong candidates for college admission to apply. Carter identified a "moneyball" approach to education, discovering that there were several hundred thousand young people who qualified for college and would likely be successful in college, but for various reasons, were not even considering applying.
This past Awards season the film world saw two Millennials in hot contention: Alison Klayman, the 25 year-old first-time filmmaker who braved the Chinese government bureaucracy to make the documentary Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry about the Chinesepolitical activist Ai Weiwei, and Benh Zeitlin, the 30 year-old Oscar nominated director of Beasts of the Southern Wild. Both Benh and Alison made films that were lauded for their audacity and social message, as much as their quality. That’s a good way to sum up this generation’s promise and potential.
David D. Burstein is the author of Fast Future: How the Millennial Generation is Shaping Our World, an inside look at how the millennial generation is changing business, technology, culture, and politics.
[Image: Flickr user Camil Tulcan]