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Introducing our ACT Bright Future Prize finalists!

05 January, 2024 |Ardonagh Group | Ardonagh Community Trust

We are ready to reveal the eight amazing finalists of this year's ACT Bright Future Prize who are in with the chance of winning a share of the £40,000 prize fund to turn their project ideas into a reality.

Through the prize, ACT, Ardonagh's own charity, searches the globe for teenagers with aspirations to make a difference to the world around them – whether through community, the environment, technology, or arts and sport.

We received entries from teens stretching from Brazil to Australia with a whole host of ideas, and after much deliberation our ACT Trustees have selected our shortlist of finalists, who form a truly international cohort of inspirational young people.

Meet our fantastic finalists

Establishing a community bakery to inspire entrepreneurship

Manganye Onndwela
Itsani, South Africa

Manganye has a keen entrepreneurial spirit and aspires to open his very own community bakery business in his hometown of Itsani. Already, he's been part of a host of pop-up events and markets to hone his baking and business talents, and now wants to set up his own bakery to develop not just his own skills but to support other people in the community to do the same.

With the Bright Future funding, Manganye would create a central hub for the bakery, which would provide opportunities for young people in the area and establish a hub for residents to meet and hold events, creating a place that is welcoming to employees and local people alike.

"I applied to this opportunity because baking is not just my passion, but also my way of giving back to my community. The thought of positively impacting others through my baking skills drives me forward, and being selected as a finalist fills me with gratitude and motivation to continue pursuing my entrepreneurial dreams." Manganye Onndwela

Taking action to prevent forest fires

Íris Fonseca
Leiria, Portugal

Íris grew up in Brazil, but just over a year ago, moved to Portugal. Since this transition, she's seen the devastating impact that forest fires can have on a community and the environment, having experienced them first hand in her local area.

With dreams of being an engineer, Íris has harnessed these aspirations to begin her own project to improve safety in her home of Leiria by installing fire defences. With the funding, Íris hopes to collaborate with the community to install ground pipes and other means to protect both people and the surrounding nature.

"I saw in this project the opportunity to put my passion into practice and be able to collaborate with my community on such a serious problem. Being one of the finalists made me believe that it is possible to fulfil my dreams and help people. I hope I win because this victory will not be mine but that of my community which suffers year after year with the loss of their homes, people who have given their lives to fight the fire and the environment which we must look after with love because it is what provides us with oxygen to breathe." Íris Fonseca

Creating opportunities for young people in the youth justice system

Imogen O'Shannessy
Victoria, Australia

Imogen is on a mission to create a support space for young people who have experienced or been impacted by the youth justice system in Australia. Unfortunately, many young people are directly or indirectly affected by crimes, which may or may not result in the perpetrator's conviction. Imogen wants to make sure these young people do not feel isolated or abandoned, by creating a hub where young people can connect and access support.

With the funding, Imogen hopes to establish a space where the group can meet and organise activities - developing connections with peers who have had similar experiences and access opportunities.

"I applied for the Bright Future Prize simply because an incredible idea popped into my head to help young people in my community on a stronger level, and decided to see if I could make it a reality. Being a finalist feels so surreal to me as I never imagined that this new passion of mine would make it this far, however I am so proud that I am one step closer to benefiting and supporting young people in my community.” Imogen O'Shannessy

Creating a network of community first aiders

Aid Avengers (Carrie, Louie, Mikayla, Emma, Robyn and Amy)
Co. Cork, Ireland

Aid Avengers are a group of six teens based in Cork - Carrie, Louie, Mikayla, Emma, Robyn and Amy. Together, they are determined to improve the life-saving skills of young people in their local area and more widely across the whole of Ireland.

Being in a rural area, the importance of first aid is paramount to community wellbeing and they aim to educate a new generation of first aiders by creating a network of trained young people in communities around the county.

They hope to use the Bright Future funding to purchase CPR equipment and first aid resources and to organise a campaign to establish a training programme for young people.

"It feels amazing to know that our ideas about the importance of first aid education are being heard. This recognition gives us a sense of validation and motivates us to continue pursuing our idea!" Aid Avengers

Championing gender equity in sport through technology

Isabel Connolly
Co. Cork, Ireland

Isabel is a keen advocate of girls in sport. Statistically, girls quit sports at one and a half times the rate that boys do, and by the age of 17, over half of girls take part in no sport. This is where Isabel's innovative idea, 'HerSportHub', aims to make a difference. Through the dedicated app, Isabel hopes to cultivate a network of girls passionate about sport and to connect them with clubs and groups in their area where they can access activities. In addition, the app will provide a hub to showcase women role models in sport and to share resources and events.

With the funding from Bright Future Prize, Isabel would take her app from plans to a reality. Ultimately, Isabel hopes the app will inspire and empower more girls to continue their journey in sport, wherever it takes them, and drive further inclusivity. 

"I am so beyond honoured and privileged to be named an ACT Bright Future Prize finalist for 2023/24! I am advocate for gender equality in sports and STEM & I am thrilled that others share my passion." Isabel Connolly

Tackling youth suicide through conversation and listening

Anna Dias
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Anna is a hugely passionate advocate of good mental health, and has already been at the forefront of action in her local community in Rio de Janeiro to support youth wellbeing. She has established her own youth project, called Weaving, Listening and Embracing, which aims to further understanding of mental health and ultimately to prevent suicide.

Through this project, Anna has organised lectures, conversation circles, and social activities and hopes that the Bright Future Prize funding will enable her to take the group to the next level by expanding its work, starting a mentoring programme, and collaborating with health professionals. 

"Listening, Weaving, and Embracing is all about dialogue and bringing hope. There is no future of a nation if we do not take care of the youth. We need to rescue the will to live among young people. And being a finalist for such an important award makes me believe that we are on the right path" Anna Dias

Inspiring young people to reach their goals

Michael Kagiso
Phake, South Africa

Michael is incredibly enterprising, having earlier this year set up his own community development project called 'Kagiso Kgatle Foundation'. Through the foundation, Michael works to inspire young people in his community to develop their leadership skills and support them to reach their personal goals.

Through the project, he's worked closely with several schools in his local area to hold mini events and is currently establishing a board of young people to take the foundation even further. With funding, he hopes to partner with more schools and to develop a range of events connected to community, including education, clothing drives, and skill sessions. 

"When I found out that I was a finalist, I was ecstatic, it meant a lot to me, it is through such organisations as ACT that we succeed, I believe that it is of utmost importance that we unify as the youth community, identify and solve challenges, through innovative ideas as teamwork." Michael Kagiso

Combating climate change through coding

Chloe McCormick
Victoria, Australia

Chloe has two passions, coding and taking action against climate change. She's brought them together through her own imitative, Code<Green/>, which uses interactive programming to raise awareness and educate young people about the environment.

Already, Chloe has mentored over 150 children in Melbourne through workshops and created a prototype of an online learning platform. Now, she wants to take Code <Green/> to the next stage, expanding to reach more young people. With the funding, she aims to develop her online platform and to create a new range of education packs, which enable people without access to computers to create interactive board games - ultimately to catalyse the next generation of climate leaders!

"My mission is to empower other young people to become climate champions. Applying for the Bright Future Prize, I hoped that the Ardonagh Community Trust could help me continue on my mission. Whilst I knew my chances were slim, I still took the plunge and applied. I am so glad I took the opportunity and am over the moon to now be a finalist!" Chloe McCormick

Choosing our 2023/2024 winners. What happens next?

With our finalists now chosen, we'll now meet and film showcases of their projects, so we can learn even more about them and their bright ideas – look out for more on Engage and our ACT Instagram and Facebook, @ArdonaghCT.

In March, our ACT Trustees will then choose our winners, who will share the £40,000 prize fund to empower them to turn their bright ideas into a reality.

Learn more and keep up to date

  • Visit the ACT website to learn more about the Bright Future Prize and discover the stories behind all our winners to date.
  • Follow ACT on Instagram and Facebook to keep in the loop about all things Bright Future Prize and ACT! Find us @ardonaghCT or 'Ardonagh Community Trust'.

More ways ACT gives back to colleagues 

Bright Future Prize is an external funding stream, however, ACT has a range of programmes accessible to Ardonagh employees to support the causes that matter to you. If you are an Ardonagh employee, visit the dedicated ACT section on our employee Engage platform to find out more about our Community grant programme and match funding, plus how to apply.

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