We are pleased to showcase some of our students’ work in the Changemakers Institute, sponsored virtually during 2020 by the national Youth and Government. The Changemakers Institute (more information available here) was a summer long event consisting of small group sessions, sessions based on interests, and a speaker series ranging from community activists to journalists, to candidates running for office, to our own 2018 Youth Governor Trisha Prabhu, discussing her own endeavors on being a maker of change with ReThink (

Following is a brief recap of the students’ final initiatives, and links to more information about any of the projects to learn more.

Elizabeth Kapsch, St. Francis

Elizabeth’s initiative is Elevate Voices. Inspired by the written word, Elevate Voices is a platform for students to explore their voice in space to be heard by other youth voice, and in different genres – Opinion, Topic Interview or Fun Interview – whatever gives the best way of expression. Students can fill out forms and answer questions to get their stories out, at least in a small way. “The world is better with stories in it; and that includes your own.”

Find Elevate Voices on Instagram @elevatevoices and also at

Carlos Martinez Concha – Two Rivers Y

Carlos initiative is the Quad Cities Youth Advocacy Council. Check out their website and Facebook page, and also the information page from the Two Rivers YMCA. ( and at Facebook and also information can be found

This council is making change through its Goals and Projects:


  • to attend BOE Meetings to better the education system
  • to create a better and safer community for our generation and the upcoming ones after us
  • provide resources to free products for individuals in the community
  • increase Youth involvement in our community and inspire young adults to be leaders in their community


  • Raising mental health awareness for minorities
  • Programs for troubled teens to stay out of trouble
  • Steps to get youth in business programs

Thomas Musgraves – Bradley Bourbonnais (also our 2021 Chief Justice!)

Thomas’ initiative was working on prison reform, and in particular programs that would be beneficial to rehabilitation, not recidivism.

David Surzykiewicz, Lake Park (and our 2021 Youth Governor!)

David’s initiative is Thank the Heroes, dedicated to thanking those who have been on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis. David set up a system to provide thank yous to all 141 hospitals in Illinois. Operation Thank the Heroes is still ongoing, so go to the link and write a thank you to our frontline medical workers!

Pranav Viswanath  – Westmont

Pranav’s initiative was two fold, working with his local temple to deliver food for hospital workers, and also working with the People’s Resource Center in his area to help low income families and children going b ack to school with school supplies. While COID restrictions prevented the delivery of food, they were able to deliver thank you cards to healthcare workers, and delivered over 1,000 backpacks in the People’s Resource Center Back-to-School program to students in DuPage County. Find out more on Pranav’s work and experience participating in Changemakers by clicking here.

We look forward to what more these changemakers will do in the future!