Home / Spiffy's Blog / Michael Sheldrick: Empowering Citizens to Address Global Challenges Through Policy
Michael Sheldrick: Empowering Citizens to Address Global Challenges Through Policy

Michael Sheldrick: Empowering Citizens to Address Global Challenges Through Policy

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Michael Sheldrick, the co-founder of Global Citizen and the author of the upcoming book, From Ideas to Impact: A Playbook for Influencing and Implementing Change in a Divided World. Let’s learn about how Michael is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Michael, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through your work?

Michael: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! My book details eight simple steps that empower individuals to make a difference, particularly in influencing policies to address major global challenges, be it navigating Artificial Intelligence for positive impact or tackling climate change. Whether you're a cultural icon like Taylor Swift, a business leader, or an everyday citizen, there's something we all can do. The current times call for entrepreneurship in policymaking and increased engagement from each of us.

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Michael: My early school years were challenging; I struggled academically and in sports. When people set low expectations, we often live down to them instead of rising above. Everything changed when an inspiring teacher recognized untapped potential in me. He challenged me to become the top student, and through hard work, I achieved that goal by year-end. Though I graduated in the top one percent of my state, I attribute it more to the opportunities I received than extraordinary talent. Grateful for those opportunities, I was driven to ensure everyone worldwide has the chance to unlock their full potential. While still at University I helped co-found the advocacy organization, Global Citizen.

Spiffy: That’s awesome. Can you elaborate on what the impact of your work is?

Michael: Global Citizen's campaigns, reaching millions in over 150 countries, have sparked over 33 million citizen actions. In collaboration with remarkable organizations, these actions have facilitated the disbursement of over 40 billion US dollars to local and regional initiatives. Together, they've improved access to crucial services such as medical treatment, sanitation, education, equity, empowerment, and climate resilience, impacting the lives of over 1 billion people.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your community?

Michael: I'm thrilled about my upcoming book, a project that occupied much of my time last year. It was born out of numerous inquiries from high school students, community clubs, student activists, and businesses seeking guidance on contributing to policy change. This book provides accessible ways for everyone to contribute. Although it doesn't claim to have all the answers, it serves as a starting point for turning talk into action; ideas into impact. With a growing community supporting policy change, we have the potential to create impactful narratives that inspire broad change beyond our individual efforts. As Eleanor Roosevelt wisely advised, 'The way to begin is to begin.' So, let's get started.

Spiffy: Well quoted! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Michael: Make a difference by donating, improving habits, and having conversations with friends and family. Individual efforts do matter. But big issues like climate change need more than personal changes in our behavior. There are many ideas to address these huge challenges, like those presented in TED Talks, but we need people outside of government playing an active role in ensuring these ideas translate into impact. To that we must engage in making policy. Fortunately, advances in communication, funding, technology, and science empowers more people to impact policy than ever before. Citizens, nonprofits, and businesses can become policy entrepreneurs, with support from philanthropy. It's time for everyone to play a role in shaping a better world.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Michael—it’s been an honor!

Michael Sheldrick is co-founder of Global Citizen and author of the upcoming book, From Ideas to Impact: A Playbook for Influencing and Implementing Change in a Divided World. As well as reaching millions of people in over 150 countries, Global Citizen's campaigns have helped secure more than 40 billion US dollars towards local and regional organizations providing access to lifesaving medical treatment, sanitation, education, equity and empowerment, and climate residency efforts. (First published on the Ladderworks website on March 6, 2024.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2024 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.