25 millennials. 6 cities. 1 train. From May 21-May 31, a diverse group of young entrepreneurs, scientists, and community leaders are traveling across the country by train as part of the third annual Millennial Trains Project (MTP). Founded by Fulbright scholar, Patrick Dowd, the mission of MTP is to advance social projects while exploring new frontiers. The participants boarded the train in Los Angeles and will traverse the nation in a set of streamliner cars, stopping in Austin, San Antonio, New Orleans, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. Over the course of the journey, participants will engage in leadership development exercises with industry experts aboard the train and have dedicated project time in each city to raise awareness about the causes they champion. This year’s MTP class ranges from a film student creating a children’s television show to promote education in Afghanistan to a National Geographic Young Explorer grantee studying community based invasive species management. Due to the support of Comcast and NBCUniversal, I have the privilege of riding with the Millennial Trains Project and will be sharing the insights of my trip with the GenHERation community.
The trip kicked off in Los Angeles in the United Artists Theater at the historic Ace Hotel. We went on an exclusive tour of the 1600 seat-theater that was founded by Hollywood legends Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, D.W. Griffith, and Charlie Chaplin. Before we boarded the train, we met with local leaders to discuss the role millennials play in social innovation. Nonprofit leader Halleemah Nash discussed how she leverages the power of sport to identify sustainable ways athletes can maximize the impact of their influence. A native of Compton, California, Halleemah has become a national advocate for the revitalization of inner city communities through “collaborative social impact.” Internet pioneer Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, echoed the importance of “doing well by doing good.” As a supporter of veterans, wildlife, and the free press, Craig recognizes that the intersection of technology and society provides a medium to address social injustices. When asked about the impetus of his philanthropic work, Craig replied, “A nerd’s got to do what a nerd’s got to do.”
The train departed from Union Station in Los Angeles en route to San Antonio, Texas. Carley Wahlborg, who is riding the train to research empowering programming for girls and their mothers, is “excited to discover the many diverse opportunities and networks for girls across the country. If you have any questions for the MTP participants, email firstname.lastname@example.org to see your questions answered in subsequent features.
Photos courtesy of Zach Fackrell.
Contributor: Katlyn Grasso