The Obama Foundation today selected Bangladeshi national Shazeeb M Khairul Islam to join its third cohort of Obama Scholars.
Obama Scholars is composed of 11 rising leaders from around the world who will study at Columbia University for the 2020-2021 academic year, which will begin virtually, said a press release.
These Scholars, as exhibited through their commitment to advancing the public good and solving society's most pressing global issues, are on a trajectory to accelerate positive change in their community, their region, and the world.
Shazeeb M Khairul Islam is the Founder & Managing Director of YY Ventures, a social business company founded in Bangladesh to build, accelerate and invest in social businesses that are moving towards a world of three zeros - zero poverty, zero unemployment, and zero carbon emission.
Before founding YY Ventures, Shazeeb led the establishment of Bangladesh's first independent social business incubator, 'YY Goshti', which has backed 36 social entrepreneurs since 2016 who have impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people. Previously, Shazeeb was the Founding Country Director of YGAP in Bangladesh, an innovative international development nonprofit, where he supported 30 social entrepreneurs. He has also worked as the Bangladesh Country Advisor at Give2Asia, a US. based non-profit, where he helped build and sustain innovative collaborations between philanthropic investors and vetted community-based organisations that are addressing the most pressing issues at the local level.
"This pandemic has changed all of our lives and it has revealed some of the deep-rooted inequities that the 2018 and 2019 Scholars have committed their lives to solving. Over the past several months, the Scholars have found innovative ways to pivot their work to meet the needs of people in their communities," said Obama Foundation CEO David Simas.
"The world needs more leaders like this, now more than ever, and we look forward to supporting our third cohort of Scholars on their leadership journeys."
Given the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing safety precautions around international travel, the Columbia Scholars program will commence virtually for the fall semester—orientation is currently underway and online classes will begin on September 7. Over the course of the academic year, the new Columbia cohort will participate in a rigorous curriculum, designed by Columbia University in consultation with the Obama Foundation, that integrates academic, skills-based, and experiential learning. The Scholars will gain real-world skills, tools and experiences, and develop an action plan that will enable them to scale their work and reinvest in their communities in their home regions.
The Scholars will also have the opportunity to contribute to Columbia World Projects, an initiative that mobilizes the university's researchers and scholars to work with governments, organizations, businesses, and communities to create tangible solutions to real-world issues.
"Witnessing, over the past two years, the powerful impact of this program on the remarkable individuals participating as Obama Scholars, and the communities they are dedicated to changing, has left Columbia even more deeply invested in this special endeavor and all that it can accomplish," said Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger. "This year we welcome 11 new scholars at a moment that starkly underscores the importance of civic leadership. We are looking forward to supporting them in further developing the skills needed to meet the many urgent challenges proliferating around the globe."
The Obama Foundation's Scholars program, which launched in 2018, is designed to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective and impactful upon their return home. As part of the Foundation's ongoing efforts to pass the baton to the next generation of global leaders, the Scholars program partners with Columbia University to combine academic learnings with one-of-a-kind experiences led by the Foundation.