Living In The Hyphen

"Meet me at the Bridge" Bridging the gaps that exist in society to promote equity, change, unity, awareness, and empowerment.

Photo of Bijou B

Written by

Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?

  • No

Date Started

January 9, 2018

Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.

  • Idea (hoping to get started in the future)

1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."

2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Now more than ever we are polarized and divided. Living in the hyphen is a place of engagement’s, interaction, and connectivity to ensure that individuals are sincerely au fait with the realities that hinder the growth, development or success of others in ones community, in ones circles of influence and in your interactions such as lack of opportunity, and experiences; and be a part of the counter hegemonic movement for change.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

“Living In the Hyphen” is an initiative and campaign where we foster the idea of authentic leadership, proactivity, communication, self esteem/ confidence, tolerance, critical thinking, goals setting, time management, teamwork, public speaking and problem solving; to encourage individual success, encourage Individual development, embrace an inclusive environment, reward innovative excellence, support our community and to promote change, growth, solidarity, and equity. “Living in the Hyphen” exists to engage and introduce the idea of Civic leadership and developing a voice and story to enable environments of truth, diversity, and inclusion. It acknowledges the opportunity gap that exists in the community and schools and facilitates programs and opportunities for individuals to be exposed and engaged in different environments and programs that can allow for discovery, exploration and expression of self.

4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.

Through this initiative we can ensure for a consistent standard of service through professional capabilities and through insight and local knowledge. Through this campaign amazing leaders and Individuals can apply skills, expertise, passion and resources to enable change and find sustainable solutions to local and global issues; by sharing and engaging strengths and abilities through support of local community initiatives, through sustainable development goals and by working strategically for the purpose to inspire confidence and empower. Individuals will have the opportunity to explore the issues that exist in the integral parts of our interactions. It exposes many individuals to civic duty, civic engagement and community outreach to illustrate public service.

5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?

The hyphen is the unification of, it acknowledges the need or lack that exists and creates a space for inclusion. The hyphen is the bridge. The bridge is where the interconnectivity of humanity exists.This initiative would be the first of its kind in promoting civic engagement and engaging a multicultural and multigenerational environment to speak truth to power, facilitate communication through expression and story, and looking for real and realistic ways to engage political participation, community outreach, educational exploration, and give power to the youth beyond the classroom setting.

6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

How I plan to know that I and the people on my team are making a difference is when people will risk being popular for the sake of being relevant when it comes to fighting and promoting change, and speaking up against injustice and disruptive attitudes, practices, and behaviors. When people are unafraid to speak their truth and story, and when people understand the power that they hold in dictating the life they live, the power they hold in facilitating their future, and the urgency and necessity of truth, leadership, civility and humanity in our interactions and thoughts of each other. When we begin to see more people go out and follow their visions. Visions that are fueled and embraced by passion to focus their energy and purpose not on fixing and fighting yesterday, but on building and growing something new right now and for tomorrow. Success is succession.

7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?

We would like to engage the Superintendent in allowing this to become a school wide leadership program opportunity, we would work on community projects such as STEM day initiative and the first ever Business day for middle schoolers in the community. These initiatives are to bridge the exploration and opportunity gap in schools. We would facilitate transportation to voting polls and provide voting information sessions and awareness. We would have multicultural and multigenerational TED Talks to engage a plethora of conversations on leadership, equity, change, growth, awareness, inclusivity, and mindfulness. We would also integrate this leadership and equity workshop in the Girl Scout community, and many other initiative for change.

8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?

Resources that we would need include a website, a location to meet, and funding for materials needed. We would need permission from the superintendent and education board. We would also need local, and state government participation.

10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.

We have engaged family members, and members of a non profit women's advisory board, we have engaged teachers, and principles along with the CEO of girl scouts and the girls scout organization. We have engaged several organizations, friends and families. We talked to many of these individuals and members of our community about our vision, and they offered their support. They also connected us to a network of people in the Greater Washington area, so that when we were ready we have an extensive platform of resources at our disposal. We attended local community meetings and utilized networking as the key to exposure in the community.

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?

  • Black or African American (for example: African American, Jamaican, Haitian, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Somalian, etc) (8)

Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?

  • Communities of color

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Search engine
  • Ashoka page or contact

Evaluation results

8 evaluations so far

1. Overall evaluation

5 - This idea rocked my world. It’s awesome! - 25%

4 - This idea seems really exciting. With a little more polishing, it’d be among my favorites. - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 50%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - It didn’t make my heart beat faster. - 0%

2. Changemaker Quality

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 0%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 62.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 37.5%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

3. Creativity

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 37.5%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 25%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 12.5%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 12.5%

1 - This entry is weak here - 12.5%

No Answer - 0%

4. Commitment

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 66.7%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 100%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 100%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer - 0%

5. Connection

5 - Absolutely, 100%! - 50%

4 - I feel really good about this - very promising - 37.5%

3 - This has some good elements and some areas for development - 12.5%

2 - This doesn’t inspire me so much - 0%

1 - This entry is weak here - 0%

No Answer or No Connection - 0%


Join the conversation:

Photo of Riley Jones

I'd definitely love to talk more about this. I'm working on Join The Bloc , let me know what you think about ways to collaborate!

Photo of Bijou B

Hi Riley Jones sorry for the late response I traveled, and there was very limited internet access. Living In The Hyphen would love to collaborate and partner with you in bridging the gap of racial and low income communities opportunity to create a bridge where equality exists. My email is please email me so we can work on finding ways to collaborate.

Photo of Tia Johnston Brown

Bijou, thanks so much for your project idea. It sounds like you want to get your peers giving back to the community in various ways. I'd encourage you to being with small steps. For example, getting some friends together after school and picking one or two project to move forward with. Then recruit others to join these projects. See where this goes from there. Once you have proven your model expanding in to other schools sounds like a great step.

Photo of Bijou B

Thank you Tia Johnston Brown sorry for the late response I traveled to Zambia to meet with local leaders for two weeks. I am gratefully thankful for your advice and insight and have already taken it to guide us through our first community outreach project. We started our first phase community project which is building and fixing libraries in landlocked southern countries beginning with Zambia. We have partnered with the World Bank and IMF as well as MCPS to receive all the books we are currently in the process of reaching out to the government for transportation of these books from the port and for the usage of government land to bridge the gap between girls and education, the gap between government investment and education, and the gap between inequality and justice. We a;so met with some women in Zambia to begin a joint effort for a girls and women empowerment group for africa. We are working with local leaders in the area to find a space locally to find a meeting space to begin introducing different concepts that create dicides in our community and begin the process of bringing them. Thank you so much for your insight and support.

Photo of Kim Solem

You are an inspirational philosophical leader Bijou B! I would love to see more about your specific implementation plan; what are your first activities? how will you fund them? what kind of quantifiable impact will it have? You are clearly fueled by passion, and I can't wait to see where your ideas take you!

Photo of Bijou B

Thank you so much Kim Solem sorry for the late response I was in Lusaka, Zambia for two weeks and internet access is very restricting. I am deeply humbled and sincerely grateful for your kind words, we are actually beginning our first phase as we are registering the non profit this week with the help of an individual donor. We started our first phase community project which is building and fixing libraries in landlocked southern countries beginning with Zambia. We have partnered with the World Bank and IMF as well as MCPS to receive all the books we are currently in the process of reaching out to the government for transportation of these books from the port and for the usage of government land to bridge the gap between girls and education, the gap between government investment and education, and the gap between inequality and justice. We are also beginning the process of creating and initiating a girl and women's empowerment group of Africa. in America in our community we want to begin unconscious bias, stereotype, and microaggression table conversations to bring awareness and bridge divides in society. We would also like to bring voter awareness to the youth of our generation through face to face interactions and activities around the area. We would like to create greater youth opportunity in the DMV. and also have a focus on the refugee crisis. The way we look to do this is by having pillar issues that create divides in our society and have a realistic, sustainable, attainable, and forefront projects the illustrate a vision of conjoining a divided global community. For example Education an the relitoes that affect quality education globally from social stratification, to lack of funding, to staffing and look for ways to bridge the divide such as opening more libraries and providing easily accessible internet access we can bridge the divide on education.

Photo of Yusi Wang

Hi Bijou, thanks for sharing your idea! I completely agree with you that the society that we live in is more divided than it has been in many decades. It is very important for students to be exposed to concepts such as civic engagement, peaceful dialogue, and community support early in their life, and I definitely see your idea addressing these areas. I would suggest perhaps creating a curriculum which you can use in your conversations with school districts and educational institutions. You may want to consider breaking down the curriculum tailored to the calendar of each school you speak to, establishing weekly sessions with different goals and deliverables at the end of class.

I would also like to share a recent idea myself and 2 other students are working on, Partner17. We thought of the idea when we saw a gap between the amount of work NGOs must complete and the limited amount of resources they have. I thus wanted to create a platform to help NGOs find student groups who specialize in certain areas, such as data analytics and research, to help NGOs free of cost. This way, student groups receive valuable real-life experience and NGOs have more human resources to complete deliverables. We would love to invite you to join our platform, which you can access at Please feel free to contact us at or message me through the Changemakers platform. Thanks and I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo of Riya Krishnan

Hi Bijou B ! I LOVE the vision and the mission driving hyphen (cool name and metaphor by the way). I can totally relate to you seeing that there's a lack of opportunity for the next generation to create social impact. Wavve seeks to solve that problem as well, and we'd love to collaborate/work with you! I'm excited to see where this goes, and best of luck!

Photo of Bijou B

Hello Riya Krishnan Thank you so much, and I absolutely love your idea!! I would love to collaborate with you as Wavve is an amazing project and opportunity to bridge the gap between dreams, and action by providing the youth and individuals with realistic and tangible methods, and support to strategically plan and facilitate visions and ideas. What would be the best way to reach you and collaborate to bridge these gaps?!!

Photo of Tyler Colon

I love the premise of your project, and I have a visceral understanding of the polarizations that you speak of. Though my idea doesn't directly address racial tensions and sociopolitical disparities as yours does, I do believe that part of bridging the gap and part of living in the hyphen is becoming comfortable there. This comfort comes about through exposure. My idea is a tutoring app called iStudy. On it, students may make profiles, but there is no category for racial identification. I do this in part because I deemed it superfluous for the nature of my app, and because there is no function for racial preference built into the app. My app allows for an environment that operates freely within "the hy-phen" that you speak of. Best of luck to you!

Photo of Bijou B

Thank you so much and the idea that one has to exist and acknowledge that they live in the gap is key. I believe it also allows the individual to work towards bridging the gap that they exist in, or may exist in their communities. I love the idea of your project, in creating a tangible and realistic solution to such astronomical issues and realities that face our communities and world. I wish your project the best of luck and am looking forward to potentially using it myself!!

Photo of Ezra Bram

Hello Bijou B I don't think I could agree with your vision any more! I totally agree with what you are standing for and the platform you are trying to engage the maximum amount of people with. Your quote of service as an act of the soul was beautiful and echoes a lot of truth. I can relate to your deep appreciation for service, love, and civic duty. In fact, at CATALYST COFFEE AND TAPHOUSE we are aiming to "live in the hyphen" and close the gap on communal dissonance by involving more people in their own communities in practical ways! I think the work you are doing is so inspiring and holds a lot of potential! Please let us know if you're ever in the Denver area and need any connections. We would love to advance your efforts! Keep on pushing to do more.
I also think It Takes A Village would fit really well with your push for community alleviation through practical service.

Photo of Bijou B

Thank you so much Ezra Bram for such a heartfelt and inspiring message. I am deeply honored and humbled to have the privilege and opportunity to receive such profound incite from you. Thank you so much for considering me, and commenting on my project through such a priceless platform. I am truly dumbfounded and touched, I will definitely make it a priority to visit Denever, Colorado in the near future and will absolutely reach out to you and Catalsyt Coffee and Taphouse. Thank you so much and enjoy the rest of your weekend. Good evening.