Meet an Anthem Judge: Sofia Ongele, ReDawn
Creator, activist, founder & developer Sofia Ongele talked to us about the expertise she’s bringing to The Anthem Awards, what she’s expecting from entrants this year–and more.
Meet one of our Anthem Judges, Sofia Ongele, who is a self-described student, creator, and technologist.
She developed an early passion for using technology to advocate for marginalized communities by having developed and launched her first app, ReDawn, at just 17. The much-acclaimed app provides reporting and health resources to survivors of sexual violence, as well as a place where questions about sexual violence can be voiced and given space.
Now at 22, Ongele’s a student at Columbia University on top of being a Digital Strategist for Gen-Z for Change. She works with them on creating tools to cultivate civic engagement on digital platforms with current and urgent issues such as climate change. She’s also a TikTok creator, under the username sewpheeyuhwith, with a platform of about 300,000 followers.
And that’s not all–she was a Kode with Klossy scholar for two years and has taught over 140 teens from marginalized communities nationwide how to code. With all this experience under her belt, Ongele’s bringing an immeasurable amount of knowledge to the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS).
“I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to juggle many hats,” she told us. “I bring a diverse and unique perspective in that the lens through which I interpret inequities and conceive solutions to overcome them are constantly being refined.”
In addition to her professional experience, she’s currently exploring the space where social impact and digital technology intersect during her studies at Columbia. This gives her the know-how to critically and objectively analyze digital social impact campaigns for their effectiveness in the work they’re doing.
She believes that for social impact projects to have their intended impact, the most important factor is that they’re remaining true to the very community they’re advocating for. She asserted that impact campaigns that are created and shared online have to have the voices of marginalized people at the heart of them.
She discusses the importance of purpose-driven projects centering that integrity, saying, “In other words, inclusion is key. Once this is a cornerstone to the project, the process of disruption and innovative thinking can at times write itself.”
Another cornerstone of social impact projects that Ongele likes to see is using igniting events as fuel for creating real, sustainable change. She mentioned how one of her close colleagues and friends, Olivia Julianna, did just that by raising over two million dollars for 50 abortion funds within one week in reaction to having been “body shamed” by a congressman.
“… she took what could’ve very easily been a harrowing event into an avenue through which she made real, tangible change,” she told us. “Change that has turned the ecosystem through which we relationally organize and fundraise on its head.”
As for the 2nd Annual Anthem Awards, Ongele’s hoping to judge initiatives that push the envelope of the traditional social impact model–or the “changemaking canon,” as she calls it.
“We can learn from the great changemakers of our past at the same time as marrying their methods with fresh and original ideas,” she said. “So I’m excited to see how these years’ entries leverage their unique skill sets to champion equity, accessibility, and justice for all across disciplines and industries.”
The experiences Ongele’s garnered over the years have equipped her with the objectivity and critical eye needed to judge the impact projects that are submitted to the 2nd Anthem Awards. She’s able to intertwine her knowledge from her education with the real-world experiences she’s had in developing intricate digital platforms such as her website sofiaongele.me/.
“I am able to judge social impact initiatives not only for their innovative value, but also for their ability to critically assess and tackle injustices on either a micro- or macro-scale,” she noted.
To get your work seen by trailblazers of the industry, such as Ongele, submit your work to the 2nd Annual Anthem Awards! We’ve extended the entry deadline to October 21st––so make sure you don’t miss it! Click here to enter!