What can a 4-year-old do to end hunger? Start a hunger-relief organization, of course. When most kids were just entering preschool, Joshua Williams discovered that people right in his neighborhood went without food. The concept confounded the young Miami resident, so with the support of his family, Williams founded Joshua’s Heart Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the fight against global hunger and poverty through the community service of young people.
Now 16 and a high school senior at Ransom Everglades, Williams is an everyday hero for the one in six Americans who face hunger. Joshua’s Heart Foundation counts more than 12,500 youth and 4,000 adults among the volunteers Williams inspires to stomp out hunger in poor and underprivileged communities, and help those in need. Through his work, Williams has been able to engage and empower young people of all ages, and a Junior Advisory Board helps lead the foundation. They are charged with coming up with programs to help fulfill the mission while being role models for young people.
In addition to providing items of basic necessity, such as food and other grocery products, to those in need, Williams’ foundation also engages and educates communities about ways to fight hunger and poverty. To date, Joshua’s Heart Foundation has distributed more than 1,600,000 pounds of food and assisted 400,000+ individuals, along with teaching some food recipients how to prepare healthier meals.
In addition to being an advocate for the needy, Williams is a sought-after keynote speaker and sits on several national boards. He travels locally, nationally and internationally to create awareness about hunger and poverty and to motivate others. These leadership opportunities have allowed Williams to partner with well-known brands, including Disney, Hasbro, Walgreens and Unilever.
In 2013, he appeared in “The Way Kids See It,” a documentary short film by Unilever that captures ideas and inspiration for creating a brighter future from children all over the world. A year later, he participated in two service initiatives with Disney: a yearlong national campaign in conjunction with Milk Life about donating milk to food banks, and Disney's Make Your Mark campaign featuring activist kids making a difference.
For his efforts, Williams has received more than a dozen high-profile, prestigious awards. In 2012, he became the youngest recipient of the Champion of change award given by the White House for strengthening food security in the United States. Other honors include the Nickelodeon Halo Award Honoree, CNN Heroes Young Wonder, Youth Service America - Harris Wofford Award and TheGrio 100 History Makers in the Making designations.
Williams balances the rigors of a high school life with his passion for helping others. He continues to seek ways to inspire young people to make a difference in the lives of others and their communities. After high school graduation, he hopes to study business and computer science at Stanford and continue to run Joshua’s Heart Foundation.