NEW YORK, September 19, 2023 – Today, Comic Relief US, a leading nonprofit committed to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty, announced the launch of the second cohort of its Youth Advisory Council. The members include social changemakers between the ages of 18-24 from the U.S., Argentina, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zambia. The Youth Advisory Council is an innovative cornerstone program that reflects the deep commitment that Comic Relief US is making in youth leadership development and economic empowerment. The idea of the Youth Advisory Council evolved from the Comic Relief US Empowerment pillar, which supports work that centers youth voices from the communities that are most impacted by poverty, systemic inequity, and injustice. The Council embodies that strategy, creating a new way to expand youth-led grantmaking and decision-making processes.
Youth Advisory Council members will have an opportunity to direct and administer The Juntanza Fund, a $50,000 grantmaking initiative that is seeded with an annual contribution from Comic Relief US. Juntanza means “a union to help one another and achieve a common goal” and originates from the practices of Afro-descendant communities in Colombia. These investments will be used to further empower and resource community based youth-led organizations, leaders and activists. The next round of Juntanza Fund grantmaking will be in January 2024.
"Investing in the power and agency of young people to make decisions that will allow them to envision and create the change they want to see is key to our organizational mission of a “just world, free from poverty,” explains Ayo Roach, Comic Relief US’ Vice President of Grants Programs. “We are thrilled to work with these dynamic young leaders to positively impact their communities."
Comic Relief US received a record 63 applications for the second Youth Advisory Council cohort, from 15 countries. Members were recruited via referral from existing grantee partners, and via referrals from across the philanthropic sector. As part of the program, Comic Relief US provides Youth Advisory Council members with leadership development opportunities that include bi-monthly collaborations, and a dedicated mentorship program to further support their growth and development.
“Young people have the power to drive social change, and we believe they are crucial in providing solutions to help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty” says Alison Moore, CEO of Comic Relief US. “The Youth Advisory Council reflects our commitment to innovate by centering, elevating and empowering the voices and lived experiences of young people. We can’t think of a more impactful way to create change than by supporting and empowering these future leaders to be a force in their communities.”
Introducing the Second Cohort of the Comic Relief US Youth Advisory Council*:
Bahía Gatti, 24, is the Regional Coordinator for the Americas at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders and serves on the Board of Directors of the Argentine Youth Organization for the United Nations (OAJNU) as the Financing Secretariat. With a background in International Relations, Political Science, and Law, Bahía is passionate about non-formal education projects and creating an inclusive and rights-oriented society. She has experience in project management and has interned at the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the EU-LAC Foundation. Bahía is pursuing a second Master's Program at Columbia University in New York.
Thomas Lebbie, 21, is the Co-Founder and CEO of Bridge the Gap investment and co-founder of the Global Youth Network for Peace (GYNP) School of Technology. Thomas is a certified business consultant, website designer, social worker, feminist, and youth activist with seven years of experience in the field of gender and inclusion, child protection, education, sustainable peacebuilding, case management, business consultancy, disability-inclusive development, leadership, community liaison, and safeguarding. Thomas is currently based in Sierra Leone.
Abdulbasit Mikail, 23, is a certified educator and youth activist from Kaduna State, Nigeria. His passions include building the capacity of young people to be resourceful enough to lead meaningful changes in their communities for economic growth development and addressing the impact of climate change on health and education, particularly on young people, women, and children. He is one of the youth task team members of the African Youth Partnership and the co-founder of BYY Innovations—a youth-led social enterprise that equips young people with emerging digital skills and mentorships to enhance their capacities to stand out and make a difference in their communities.
Lubumbe Jeremiah Mulanda, 23, is a Zambian development specialist currently enrolled at the University of Lusaka. He is an adolescent health advocate who works towards ensuring that young people build health resilience and meaningfully engage adult partners in critical issues affecting them. He currently sits on the Youth Advisory board of the SHE-SOARS project, a program providing sexual and reproductive health education and economic empowerment to adolescent girls, where he provides technical support to implementing partners on meaningful youth engagement. He is also an adaptive leadership facilitator and works closely with the Ministry of Health in his country.
Returning members include:
Alexis Ramon, 19, is a college sophomore from New York City. At the University of Southern California, he double majors in Intelligence/Cyber Operations and Sociology. He has a keen interest in the arts, particularly in design, art, and music, and hopes to increase global access to creative outlets, particularly for underrepresented communities. His involvement with his local communities in Los Angeles and New York includes advocacy for increased arts programs, volunteering with local food pantries, and participating in mentorship programs for elementary school children. Alexis hopes to aid the process toward a more equitable world through effective grant-making and strategic funding.
Julia Song, 22, is a student at NYU Tisch, studying Film & Television with a double major in Art History. Julia founded and is co-president of NYU’s first Korean filmmakers club where they work to create a platform and supportive network for Korean and Korean American storytellers in the entertainment industry. Through collaboration and creativity, Julia hopes to make an impact as a storyteller by enriching media representation with authentic, nuanced stories and voices
Shamyah Williams, 21, was born and raised in Harlem, New York. She is currently a rising junior at Howard University studying Mechanical Engineering, where she is working with colleagues to create the first Historically Black Collegiate Figure Skating team. In addition, she is an active member of Howard’s Caribbean Association Club and Natural Hair Club, outlets where she can share her passion for diverse representation and deepen her self-identity. Shamyah enjoys using her public speaking skills to represent the youth voice in marginalized urban communities and address global challenges like child poverty and world hunger.
About Comic Relief US
Comic Relief US is a nonprofit committed to breaking the cycle of intergenerational poverty. It harnesses the power of entertainment to drive positive social change. To date the nonprofit has raised over $421 million by mobilizing donors of all ages to engage with causes through powerful content-driven campaigns and new digital platforms. Since 2015, Red Nose Day, Comic Relief US' signature campaign to end child poverty, has raised over $365 million and positively impacted over 32 million children in the US and around the world. Donations are invested in grantee partners and social impact programs that ensure children are safe, healthy, educated and empowered and that address the root causes of poverty in communities most impacted. Comic Relief US, also known as Comic Relief, Inc., is a registered U.S. 501(c)(3) public charity. For more information about Comic Relief US and its impact, visit comicrelief.org. Follow @ComicReliefUS on LinkedIn, X, Instagram, and Facebook.