South Texas Ideas
Organize annual festival that encourages youth to engage in culture, community and identity.
Additional categories (optional)
Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Eligibility: Date of Birth
January 7, 2019
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Texas: Edinburg, 78541
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Scaling (expanding impact to many new places or in many new ways)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
The Rio Grande Valley is just a small part of Texas, so not too many people know about it. However, if they have heard of the RGV, they know it as a place of separation headlines, obesity and crime because of how media outlets portray our region. This reputation that media has made of my hometown discourages the teenagers that live here to pursue their ideas. As a result, young people believe that they do not have a voice in what our community is
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
As a young person, I have seen how others my age hold the mentality that they should never question anything and to live by others expectations. By encouraging student engagement in our community, we could change that. Our annual Ideas Festival creates an environment where teenagers see themselves through a different lense — as the future and the now. Inspired by the stories of the community leaders we invited to speak at the festival, they realize that they own the Rio Grande Valley and they can make what they want out of it. With this comes education and learning about what makes the Rio Grande Valley so amazing: the people, the music, the food, and its rich culture!
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
I remember one of the first times I felt unwelcomed in the United States was when I was 13-years-old. One of my classmates told me that I should be deported, and I continued to hear comments like these in school, a place that I thought I should feel safe. I tried to ignore the hate, but I caught myself feeling ashamed of my identity. I thought that I’d be ashamed forever, but STXi changed that. When I heard the stories of two brothers seeking asylum who I met while completing a project for the nonprofit, I knew that I should instead use my identity as my strength. The podcast allowed me to tell their stories. I knew that the podcast episode I was making was not going to change the world, but for me, it was revolutionary. If just a 10 minute clip was able to help these kids, I was willing to do anything to help more and that includes continuing STXi. Now, as a leader now, I want to contin
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
If I want to be involved, I first sign up to attend the annual STXi Festival, where I can listen to community leaders talk about various topics. Here, I can have conversations with others my age about their ideas of making positive change in our community. After, if I want to further engage myself in my community, I can apply to attend the annual Youth Leadership Summit that STXI hosts during the summer. During this week I learn skills that will help better my community engagement skills, organization, and leadership roles. After attending the summit, I can apply to become an STXi Representative, which focuses on sharing the values and aspects of civic engagement, or apply to become an STXi member and focus on organizing the festival, which implements values of culture, community, and identity. The most impactful part is that I get to grow with myself and my community.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
STXi is a student-focused, student-led nonprofit organization that works specifically for the youth in the Rio Grande Valley region. The mission is to collaborate with local community leaders and educate students about the history of our hometown, and teach them about why they should be proud of it. Through the stories of local leaders, the main idea is for students to realize that they have all the resources they need to carry out their own hopes for the community. Our organization is shaped by the people who constitute it that year, because we are built on the ideas of students.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
From the moment STXi started, we have taken part in many projects that have pushed students to be more active in the community. We’ve launched a podcast that encourages civic engagement and partnered with Baylor’s Hunger Initiative. In addition, we simultaneously work to organize our annual Ideas Festival. After the most recent festival, 97% of attendees were more likely to take opportunities to become more engaged in their community. The polls we’ve done show how important culture is to the changes in human interaction, human interest, and collective action. STXi works to change the youth’s perspective on community engagement and by creating networks – we encourage young and engaged people to provide a better future for their community. These statistics show that through our projects, we are witnessing proactive people getting involved and embodying what it means to be active citizens.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
I want to create as many outlets possible for students like me, who have spent their lives waiting for the moment that their voices are heard. It’s easy to speak about opportunities that expand their involvement in community service, but the real challenge is creating opportunities for actionable change in a realistic light. As an optimistic activist, I do not plan to just inform my generation about what areas needs improvement, but I will show them specifically where and how they can make change. Without the help of STXi, I would not have created a podcast that discusses pressing issues and now, as co-leader of STXi, I want to help create projects that allow people to take our program, and their own, to a higher level.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Hispanic, Latino/a, or Spanish origin (for example: Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuba, Salvadoran, Dominican, Colombian) (7)
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?
Participated in previous Ashoka challenges
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
South Texas Ideas alumni referred me to this challenge. Their names are Annie De Guzman, Adrienne Piando and Michael Mireles.