The BILGI Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards program was officially launched at a ceremony at the Modern Arts Museum on Bilgi University’s Santral Campus. Each year, the program will provide ten young leaders in Turkey with training, networking, and advocacy opportunities, along with financial support to strengthen their social change work.

The program is the result of a dynamic partnership between İstanbul Bilgi University, Laureate International Universities, the International Youth Foundation (IYF), and the Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey (TEGV)—four organizations committed to supporting social development projects led by Turkish youth.

The BILGI Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards is the Turkey-based program of IYF’s global youth leadership initiative, YouthActionNet®. “Today’s young leaders are developing innovative solutions to a host of urgent localand global—challenges,” said IYF President and CEO William Reese. “Through supporting their efforts, the BILGI Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards represent a critical investment in an emerging generation of talented young leaders in Turkey. We look forward to welcoming the first class of BILGI Fellows into a vibrant global network, which includes programs operating on Laureate International Universities campuses in Mexico, Brazil, and Spain.”

“Since its founding in 1996, İstanbul Bilgi University has accomplished many social responsibility projects, particularly in the districts of its campuses,” said Prof. Dr. Halil Güven, Rector of İstanbul Bilgi University. “The BILGI Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards carries our social responsibility endeavors to an international platform, and underscores the importance of nurturing social entrepreneurship among our nation’s young people.” Added Douglas L. Becker, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Laureate Education, Inc. and Chair of IYF, “We are extremely proud that İstanbul Bilgi University has joined the growing group of Laureate institutions to adapt and launch the YouthActionNet® program on their campuses.”

The BILGI Young Social Entrepreneurs Awards seek to strengthen, support, and celebrate youth, ages 18 to 29, who have developed innovative solutions to community challenges in Turkey. Given its national volunteer network and youth development expertise, the Educational Volunteers Foundation of Turkey will play a critical role in the recruitment and selection of award recipients. The ten awardees selected annually will receive:

•    A $3,500 award for their organization and/or project;
•    A customized training workshop focused on enhancing their leadership and entrepreneurship skills;
•    Mentoring and technical support for their project; and
•    Connection to a national network of young leaders affecting positive change.

The deadline for youth to apply is November 15, 2010, with final selection of the 2010 fellows announced in January/February 2011.