One Young World
One Young World is a global organization that brings together a diverse group of young change makers from 190+ countries to an annual summit - where they take on the most pressing issues facing humanity. This is the largest global gathering of socially minded young leaders, and the conference provides an unparalleled opportunity for young leaders to learn, network, and be inspired by their peers.
We believe that young people have the creativity and ingenuity to shape the future. To that end, we award annual scholarships to the One Young World Summit. Our delegation of 24 representatives join a global community of empowered young leaders who can drive positive change in their communities and countries.
Our scholars, who are carefully selected from amongst passionate young entrepreneurs, our charity partners and committed Zurich employees, receive further support through personal and professional development opportunities which enable to them to increase their impact.
These new connections show me that no matter what corner of the world you come from, we have a shared vision. Every person I meet along the way is a personal reminder of why I am in this fight.
One Young World Scholar
Meet the 2022 grant recipients
In addition to the scholarship, we award grants to extraordinary individuals within our delegation. These scholars are passionate about global issues and have demonstrated commitment to creating positive change and impact in one of our pillars, namely: improving mental wellbeing, enabling social equity, and adapting to climate change.
Ronald Mugaiga, Uganda
Addressing waste management, unemployment and climate change - Ecomak Recyclers
Ebere Okonkwo, Nigeria
Providing an inclusive safe space for improving mental health - My Care Buddy
Oluwadamilola Akintewe, Nigeria
Delivering economic equality and inclusion for vulnerable women - Project Rebirth
Jason Salgado, Belize
Supporting climate entrepreneurs' transition to a low carbon economy - Climate Shares
Hear from summit 2022 attendees
Shorouq Aburazzouq, Flood Program Partner
Attending the One Young World summit as a Z Zurich foundation delegate was a unique experience, It was a great chance to engage in discussions around the world’s most pressing issues while being surrounded by influential leaders and change-makers from all around the globe. Connecting with a vastly diverse group of brilliant delegates and ambassadors inspired me to continue working toward achieving better change and positively impacting the world.
Tessa Palmer, Social Equity Partner
I was incredibly privileged and proud to be able to attend the One Young World Summit in 2022 thanks to the Z Zurich Foundation - still don't think it has sunk in five months after! It was an amazing experience to be in a room with so many people actively working to create impact across a number of topics all around the world. Listening to the way other young people are using their innovation to create social impact was very empowering and motivating to relate to my own work. I learnt a lot and will always look back on my experience fondly.
Attending the One Young World Summit opened my eyes to many areas other than just social impact that I currently work in. This allowed me to think about how I can create impact in my personal life as well as my professional. Thinking more about how my decisions negatively or positively impact the environment, language and conversations I have with people I know and how this can help or hinder their mental health and understanding the privilege I have for living in peace and for being educated. For my professional life, it has allowed me to become a better, stronger leader and advocate for the families the charity I work for supports. Allowing our families to create the dialog of what living in poverty truly means and how we can best support them to make a real impact in their lives.
Discover our scholars' stories
Diana Chao grew up with a secret mental illness. After surviving multiple suicide attempts, her life took a turn for the better. She discovered the healing power of writing. To re-connect with life, Diana started doing something rather curious, she wrote letters to strangers. By putting her emotions to paper, addressed to people she did not know, she managed to make sense of her inner chaos and realize that she is not alone in her mental health struggle. From her beginnings of her activism journey, she writes on her blog: “I know personally that when all you understand is emptiness. One letter--one human connection--can save a life. Mental health matters; mental health is personal. I fight because I can't bear it otherwise.”
Driven by this new force, Diana founded “Letters to Strangers”, the largest global youth-run mental health organization that seeks to destigmatize mental illness and increase access to affordable, quality treatment. Today, everybody can join the movement (check out the link below) and the group has important spokespeople like for example the singer and songwriter Camilla Cabello. The global aspect of the organization can be hard to manage but attending One Young World (OYW) reinforced the importance of this aspect to Diana. “It was so wonderful go get all of these different perspectives in one room,” she recounts, “It gave me new motivation to lay out our global strategy and work more with regional ambassadors”.
It is hard not to get excited about OYW when talking to Diana. She is glowing with memories when talking about them. One of her favourite moments, she tells us, was when she was asked to be on a panel on anti-Asian hate. It was the first time she had seen this topic emphasized on such a level. “It was wonderful” she smiles, “and I learned a lot.”
In 2022, Letters to Strangers completed their first full year of running the first pan-African, toll-free mental health hotline out of our Liberia office. They answered over 5,000 calls from over a dozen African nations.
Additionally, in December, they opened the largest youth mental health hub in Liberia after expanding our 24/7 Mental Health Resource Center to a new two-story building offering mental health services and youth empowerment programs. Diana was honored by President and First Lady Biden at the White House and spoke live there alongside Selena Gomez and the U.S. Surgeon-General, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Most recently, Letters to Strangers announced our new magazine and podcast called "Lessons from Strangers," seeking submissions for our first issue on "Decolonizing Mental Health" now!
Gracian Mkandawire grew up in Malawi, where youth are exposed to numerous diseases like HIV Aids and malaria, mental health problems and substance abuse from a very young age on. To combat this, Gracian founded the organization “Play Malawi”, helping to educate the young population on health hazards through sports communities. Play Malawi trains kids in Tennis and Table Tennis all while raising awareness on hygiene standards, safe sex and mental health prevention.
Gracian was a Z Zurich Foundation One Young World ambassador in 2019. Three years later, we sit down with him again. A smile lights up his face retelling the story of how he travelled from Malawi to London to experience some of the best days of his life. “It was life-changing” he says. “What is unique about One Young World is how you get to meet not only people from all over the world, but also from such different backgrounds. I made connections with many activists, but also political and company leaders.” When asked how these connections have changed his day-to-day activism, Gracian tells us “It allowed me to see that many people are working on similar projects in different corners of the world. Previously I thought we had this unique idea, but OYW showed me that we are part of a global movement of connecting youth with sports. This realization helped me to exchange experiences and skills with other leaders. One guy I met at OYW invited me to his organization after the event, and he taught me a new method to monitor my activities. It sounds simple, but exchanges like this can boost your impact.”
Gracian goes on to share lively anecdotes and stories from his experience. “You know that I got to meet my idol”, he grins through the camera. “Mohammed Yunus. He won a Nobel Peace prize and at OYW I just casually got the chance to chat with him. It’s amazing the kind of doors this conference opens.” After a quick exchange on Yunus, Gracian adds that there was another person he met who really changed his strategy, Gary Shaughnessy. “Being a Z Zurich Foundation scholar really made the experience more valuable. We got different kinds of trainings to help us become better presenters before the conference. But what stayed with me the most was the meeting with Gary. Seeing how Gary uses his sports as a fundraising tool completely changed my fundraising strategy. And let me tell you – it helped! Play Malawi wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for Gary.”
In 2022, Play Malawi purchased a minivan to reach communities, such as Thandaza, which are further away. Gracian says "Thandaza is an impoverished community with a high rate of school drop outs, early marriage and early pregnancy. Our presence in the community prompted them to acquire six acres of land where we are now constructing a sports center." He adds, " One of our partners in the US is assisting us to raise funds to build two tennis courts. After construction this will give access to over 100 children from this community and 150 more from surrounding areas."