Representing 18 countries and tackling a wide range of issues, the 2013 Laureate Global Fellows convened in São Paulo, Brazil last week for advanced leadership training and networking, celebrating the power of youth to solve urgent challenges in their communities.

Established through a partnership between the Sylvan/Laureate Foundation and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) through its YouthActionNet® program, the Laureate Global Fellowship recognizes 20 outstanding young social entrepreneurs each year who have developed cutting-edge strategies to solve the biggest social and environmental challenges of our time. Each fellow benefits from a yearlong learning experience that includes leadership development, coaching/mentoring, advocacy, and networking opportunities.

During their stay in São Paulo, the 2013 fellows participated in intensive training focused on leadership development, the art of storytelling, business models, design thinking, and how to achieve long-term systems change. Fellows shared their innovations with faculty and students at Universidade Anhembi Morumbi, a member of the Laureate International Universities Network and YouthActionNet’s partner in Brazil.

“We’re here today to talk about young people changing the world,” said Douglas L. Becker, Chairman and CEO of Laureate Education, Inc., in addressing participants at a town hall-style meeting held on campus. “We want to make it possible for young people to influence the world with all the energy, passion, and vision they bring.”

“Surrounding yourself with people who think the impossible is possible is critical,” said Fellow and presenter Katy Digovich, who added that through the Laureate Fellowship she has made friends for life. As Co-founder of Positive Innovation for the Next Generation, Digovich develops technology solutions to improve health and education systems in Botswana and beyond.

On October 10, the week culminated in an awards ceremony on the university’s campus and attended by business, academic, NGO, and public sector leaders. “YouthActionNet represents the epitome of young people serving as active citizens and problems solvers in their societies,” said IYF President and CEO William S. Reese in addressing the audience. “With more than 880 young social entrepreneurs now part of YouthActionNet’s global network, we have achieved a critical mass of young innovators who demonstrate every day the power of youth to create lasting change in today’s world.”