Anya Dillard

Founder and CEO

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Anya Dillard is an 18-year-old activist, philanthropist, social entrepreneur, content creator, and aspiring filmmaker. She is also the founder of The Next Gen Come Up – a nonprofit organization that encourages young people to explore activism, pursue community service, and raise awareness through creative expression. Anya is best known for helping to organize the largest civil rights protests in her hometown’s history (which garnered an audience of over 3,000 people and over 26,000 social media viewers), co-organizing her town’s first-ever public Juneteenth Celebration, and being appointed as the 3rd black female Student Council President in her high school’s history. 

Anya’s journey as an activist began when she was just 12 years old, and by the time she turned 15, she had founded The Next Gen Come Up. Throughout her high school career, she helped to organize countless protests demanding justice for victims of gun violence and school shootings, and advocating for climate change awareness. In addition to that, in fall of 2019 Anya created very her own annual social  

media image activism campaign “#MyRedStripes” to raise awareness and money towards period poverty and in an effort to eradicate period shame.

 

Following the massive Black Lives Matter protest she and her peers organized in 2020, Anya sat in on meetings with her town’s mayor and helped to review and edit ordinances pertaining to antibias training and the behavior of law enforcement officials, racial discrimination in schools, and economic disparities between predominantly black/Latinx elementary schools and predominantly white elementary schools. In addition to that, Anya continued organizing Black Lives matter rallies in partnership with other elected officials and town leaders including former Congressional candidate Akil Khalfani, and West Orange’s first black town councilwoman, Tammy Williams.

While Anya’s career as an activist goes back half a decade, her journey as a philanthropist goes back even further. When Anya was just 5 years old, she began spearheading an annual holiday gift-giving program for the long-term care pediatric division of Rutland Nursing Home at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Since its creation, Anya’s program has raised thousands of dollars every year to provide blankets, clothes, undergarments, toys, musical instruments, and more to children (ages newborn to 18) suffering from severe physical and neurological disabilities. Today, Anya hosts and actively raises money for many other community service projects throughout the year, including her annual back-to-school supply and coat drives that she hosts for the children of Sierra House – a group home shelter in East Orange, NJ that caters to single mothers facing homelessness and their children. 

Anya’s career as an activist goes back almost half a decade. However, her journey as a philanthropist goes back even further. When Anya was just 5 years old, she began spearheading an annual holiday gift-giving program for the long-term care pediatric division of Rutland Nursing Home at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY. Since then, her program has raised thousands of dollars every year to provide clothes, undergarments, toys, musical instruments, and more to children (ages newborn to 18) suffering from severe physical and neurological disabilities. Today, Anya actively raises money for countless community service projects throughout the year, including her annual back-to-school supply and coat drives that she hosts for the children of Sierra House – a group home shelter in East Orange, NJ that caters to single mothers facing homelessness and their children. 

When she isn’t organizing, giving back to communities in need, or creating content about social issues, Anya works as a youth mentor and public speaker. She has served as a keynote speaker on dozens of political forums such as The Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative. She has also spoken at countless schools worldwide – from middle schools in New Jersey and Missouri to Universities all the way in the UK – teaching other young people about creative activism, social entrepreneurship, and becoming a leader.

As a result of her many accomplishments and extensive work in the community, Anya has been featured by major media publications, including The Washington Post, CNN, Antiracism Daily, Elle, Seventeen, and Glamour Magazines. While closing out 2020, she was named one of the first-ever Conversationalist Human Rights Award Honorees, was one of the 3 recipients of the BLACK GIRLS ROCK Social Justice Grant, and was named the 2021 New Jersey Association of Student Councils’ Student Leader of the Year. 

When she isn’t organizing, giving back to communities in need, or creating content about social issues, Anya works as a youth mentor and public speaker. She has served as a keynote speaker at dozens of political forums including The Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative University event (hosted in partnership with Howard University). She has also spoken at countless schools worldwide – from middle schools in New York and Missouri to Universities all the way in the UK – teaching other young people about creative activism, social entrepreneurship, and becoming leaders in their own life paths. She has also been involved in countless leadership programs and, since middle school, has graduated from The BLACK GIRLS ROCK (BLACK GIRLS LEAD) Conference  — a competitive 5-day leadership program for extraordinary young black girls, created by DJ Beverly Bond in partnership with BET, Girls With Impact — a virtual entrepreneurship program for girls powered by Harvard Business School (2020), and The Young Diplomats Program at Hampton University (2019) 

After graduating high school with honors – and 5 leadership and community service awards – in June of 2021, Anya is now looking forward to studying Journalism and Video Production with a minor in Social Justice at Rutgers University Newark – where she was accepted as a member of both the highly competitive School of Arts and Sciences Newark Honors College, and Rutger’s revolutionary Honors Living Learning Community (programs with 5-7% acceptance rates) – this fall. In college, Anya hopes to continue her career as an activist by creating content that disrupts narratives and empowers other young people to become changemakers, share their perspectives, and mobilize towards influencing real systematic changes in our society.

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