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CNN’s Hero of the Year is Nelly Cheboi, the innovator building computer labs for Kenyan schoolchildren

CNN—Nelly Cheboi, the 2022 CNN Hero of the Year, made the decision to leave her well-paying software engineering job in Chicago in 2019 to establish computer labs for schoolchildren in Kenya. Online voters chose Cheboi as the winner among this year’s Top 10 CNN Heroes. Through her nonprofit organization, TechLit Africa, Cheboi has given thousands of students in rural Kenya access to donated and refurbished computers, opening up opportunities for a brighter future. During her acceptance speech, Cheboi and her mother performed a song that held special meaning from her childhood. As the CNN Hero of the Year, Cheboi will receive $100,000 to expand her work. The other top 10 CNN Heroes will each receive a $10,000 cash award and additional grants, training, and support from The Elevate Prize Foundation through a collaboration with CNN Heroes. Cheboi will also be named an Elevate Prize winner, which includes a $300,000 grant and additional support worth $200,000 for her nonprofit. Born and raised in poverty in Mogotio, a rural township in Kenya, Cheboi experienced hunger and understood the pain of poverty. However, she received a full scholarship to Augustana College in Illinois in 2012 and became passionate about computer science during her junior year. Starting with little knowledge of computers, she worked hard to gain the necessary skills and developed a love for the field. Cheboi discovered that many computers were being discarded by companies as they upgraded their technology. In 2018, she started bringing donated computers back to Kenya by paying for excess baggage fees herself. A year later, she co-founded TechLit Africa with a fellow software engineer. The nonprofit accepts computer donations, refurbishes them, and distributes them to partner schools in rural communities in Kenya. Students aged 4 to 12 benefit from daily classes and numerous opportunities to learn from professionals in various fields. Cheboi aims to partner with 100 more schools in the next year, hoping that TechLit’s graduates will have the necessary skills to secure online jobs and a bright future. The 16th Annual “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” was hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa. The event featured celebrity presenters and performances, including actress and singer Sofia Carson, who dedicated her song to the heroes. Aidan Reilly, who launched the Farmlink Project during the early months of the pandemic, was honored for his nonprofit’s work of connecting excess food to those in need. Debra Vines, founder of The Answer Inc., received recognition for supporting families impacted by autism. Carie Broecker and her nonprofit, Peace of Mind Dog Rescue, were honored for their dedication to rescuing dogs. Two teenage recipients of the 2022 Young Wonders award were Ruby Chitsey, who donates personal items to nursing home residents, and Sri Nihal Tammana, who created a network of collection bins for used batteries. The show also acknowledged Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman, Georgia poll workers who faced false allegations of involvement in election fraud. CNN has partnered with GoFundMe to allow donations to the Top 10 honorees. Supporters can donate directly to the nonprofit organizations of the CNN Heroes through CNNHeroes.com, and Subaru is matching all donations up to $50,000 for each honoree until January 3, 2023. CNN encourages people to nominate individuals who are making a positive impact in their communities as CNN Heroes for next year. More information about past CNN Heroes and their contributions can be found on CNN.com/heroes.

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