“Young people are capable of doing widely extraordinary work, their voices should be heard.”
If you’re one of those people who think you can’t make a difference in the world, I hope this Charity of the Month changes your mind.
Mike Kang was a freshman in high school when he started a youth activism campaign, which sprouted from a documentary made by Invisible Children. After his fellow students saw the documentary, Mike noticed there was a large response from students who were interested in the cause, but did not have an avenue or system on how they could get involved.
Most high school students would probably shrug their shoulders, and move on to their next class. But Mike decided to actually create the means through which his fellow students could be active participants for these causes, straight from school. So he created Generation Against Global Injustice (GAGI). One thing Mike really liked about this organization was that it was breaking the stereotype that young people can’t do much, or that young people can’t make a difference in the world. They can, and they did. In four and a half years, GAGI raised over $10,000 for partner organizations like Invisible Children, Just One, and One Day’s Wages (to name a few).
So what does GAGI have to do with Illuminate International? After Mike graduated from high school, he decided he wanted to focus on education, so it would be aligned with his career path in education and educational policy. So GAGI became Illuminate International. Why “Illuminate International”? Because their mission is to light the fire so that students can get an education, and because their purpose is to shine light on the issue of education, and lack of education in developing countries.
The plan is that Illuminate International will have one year partnerships with organizations that are working on education in developing countries, and Illuminate International will raise money for that partner organization throughout the year. The plan is also to use their growing network and social networks, such as YouTube, to bring awareness to education issues in developing countries, to people here in the United States.
Mike was inspired to act by his own childhood: growing up in Palos Verdes, he had access to everything he needed to succeed in life. After watching the documentary by Invisible Children, he realized that not everyone has this privilege: people have no access to the same things he had. Mike decided it was his responsibility to use these privileges for the public good, and to lend a helping hand were he could.
And he is doing just that.
Illuminate International wants to help schools become the central hubs of communities in developing countries, so that individuals realize that education is the only way for upward mobility for themselves and their families, and for the community to make education their main focus.
Mike hopes that years down the road, Illuminate International will be a political voice, a voice that can influence policy and the educational community, to make a political impact. In discussing who the lack of public education in developing countries can be attacked, Mike said “the governments have to take action, they have to setup quality public schools, have their own infrastructure instead of relying on nonprofits: individual governments have to take action and invest in their education.” I have no doubt that Illuminate International will try to make this a reality.