These young changemakers are uplifting their communities and laying the foundation for a brighter future.
Meet the 2023 McDonald’s Black & Positively Golden Change Leaders. These young Change Leaders are uplifting their communities and laying the foundation for a brighter future.
With the help of actress Keke Palmer, McDonald’s USA is amplifying the work of these Change Leaders, granting each $20,000 to fund their community-driven ventures. “This year, we are collectively giving $200,000 to these kids out here doing incredible things. And that’s just what I want to be a part of,” Palmer said in a HelloBeautiful exclusive interview.
These emerging leaders are taking on diverse causes to improve their respective communities—from providing mental health resources and fighting for safer communities, to advocating for youth education and raising autism awareness. Their work illustrates how change at the community level can be a building block for a better future.
Founder of Financial Revolutionn
“You need people around you who don’t just believe in you, but they believe in your mission. Because when they believe in your mission, it becomes bigger than you.”
Native Brooklynite Aaliyah Duah is the founder of Financial Revolutionn, a financial literacy education platform designed to help Black communities build generational wealth.
Founder of Aaliyah Beauty Bar
“People with autism don’t ‘suffer.’ We suffer from the way autistic people are treated by society, and from growing up in a world not designed for us.”
Aaliyah Alicia Thompson is a business owner and advocate. Through her work, this young entrepreneur is challenging the perception of what’s possible for people with autism.
Founder and Director of The Accountability Initiative
“Everyone has the power to do something. Whether it’s spreading awareness on social media or marching down the street holding a protest or working with a community organization.”
Andrew Ankamah, Jr. is the founder and director of The Accountability Initiative, an organization advocating for safer communities. The activist and organizer also serves as a Philadelphia Youth Commissioner, through which he elevates the voices of young people in policymaking.
Founder of Justice for Black Girls
“Work centering Black girlhood cannot just be about responding to Black girl trauma and death… It must center Black girl joy, healing and liberation.”
Brianna Baker is the founder of Justice for Black Girls, an organization educating young women about social justice, student activism and policy work.
Founder of Teen Care Network
“When we start educating both the community and the teens, we can build healthy conversations around mental health and break those stigmas and generational traumas around seeking mental health care.”
Dorian Hollingsworth, Jr. is the founder and executive director of Teen Care Network, a non-profit organization that provides young people with free mental health resources and works to normalize conversations about mental health in communities of color.
Co-founder of @PsychMe.Out
“I’m here to say your mental health is just as important as your spiritual health, as your physical health. All of that encompasses who we are. We can’t just not acknowledge a big part of our overall health.”
Dr. Garrick Beauliere is a co-founder of @PsychMe.Out, a platform that provides mental health education for the Black community and challenges stereotypes about mental health.
Film student at Howard University
“I want to create films that challenge racial stereotypes and change the way Black people, especially Black women, are depicted.”
Hope Bryant, a film student at Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications, harnesses the power of storytelling to challenge racial disparities and stereotypes in film and culture.
Spelman College Scholar
“The present moment has pushed us all to answer the important questions of our time. How we choose to answer them will define our generation. Will Black students matter? Will we fully commit to creating schools that function as the keys to unlock a student’s limitless potential?”
Kamarie Brown is passionate about youth advocacy and ensuring that education works for all students and communities. Kamarie’s commitment to amplifying student voices earned her the Student Board Member seat with the Los Angeles Unified School District at age 17.
Co-founder of First Generation Gems
“It takes a lot of money to get to college. There are a lot of resources that people don’t know about because there was no one to tell them. We just want to be able to help bridge the gap.”
Hampton University graduate Kemia Bridgewater co-founded First Generation Gems, a non-profit organization working to mentor and empower first-generation college students.
Author of My Roots are Rich
“Eventually, I want to see My Roots Are Rich as a television show. Kids can turn it on and see history, positive history, being reinforced back to them.”
Nyla Choates wrote and published the children’s book, My Roots Are Rich, to help Black children embrace their history. The author and advocate also founded a non-profit dedicated to fighting systemic racism in education, also called My Roots Are Rich.