Nelly Cheboi, Augustana class of 2016, is in this elite group of 10 whose journey began with nominations sent in by CNN’s audience and you can vote to help decide who will be named the 2022 CNN Hero of the Year. The winner will get an additional $100,000 for their cause.
All of the honorees will receive a grant along with organizational and capacity-building support from The Elevate Prize Foundation. They will also participate in the foundation’s annual Make Good Famous Summit in Miami.
The CNN Hero of the Year will be revealed live during “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,” hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa on Sunday, Dec. 11.
A native of Kenya, Cheboi was named to the prestigious Forbes’ 2022 “30 Under 30” list for social impact last December.
She is CEO and co-founder of TechLit Africa, which redistributes recycled technology to build computer labs in African schools.
Cheboi grew up in a poor rural village in Kenya, landed a full scholarship to study computer science at Augustana College in Rock Island, and later built a school in Kenya, where she started TechLit Africa.
She credits computer literacy for her ability to find job opportunities and make money doing what she loves, according to a CNN feature on Cheboi in July 2022. She knew she wanted to share it with her community back home.
Today, she’s giving 4,000 kids the chance for a brighter future through her nonprofit, TechLit Africa. The organization, whose name is short for Technologically Literate Africa, uses recycled computers to create technology labs in schools in rural Kenya.
“I know the pain of poverty, and that’s why I feel so passionate about it,” Cheboi, a software engineer who splits her time between Illinois and Kenya, told CNN. “I never forgot what it was like with my stomach churning because of hunger at night.”
Previous QC winner
In 2013, East Moline native Chad Pregracke was named CNN Hero of the Year, earning $250,000 to continue his work cleaning up U.S. rivers through his organization Living Lands & Waters. That prize was on top of the $50,000 that each Hero received then for making the top 10.
During the 2013 award show, Pregracke pledged to spread some of his Hero of the Year money to the rest of the top 10 Heroes: “I’ve met so many great people today, the other Heroes, and I’m really moved by all their stories and all the things they do around the world. … I’m going to give 10 grand to each of them, because they’re awesome.”
You can vote for your favorite 2022 CNN Hero (every day until Dec. 11) on the CNN Heroes website.
For more information on TechLit Africa, visit its website.