In 2014, Priya Vulchi and Winona Guo entered sophomore year of high school, only a few months after the murder of Eric Garner and protests in Ferguson, Missouri. In their home state of New Jersey, financial literacy was a requirement, but racial literacy—the ability to think about and act on race and racial injustice—had been completely absent from their education. So, that fall, the two friends founded CHOOSE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit and creative project, with the goal of advocating for required racial literacy curricula in all K-12 schools. As juniors, they developed a 224-page racial literacy textbook, which was recognized and funded by Princeton University, featured in Teen Vogue, and used in classrooms in over 40 states. An early version was piloted in elementary school classrooms in their home district.
Guo and Vulchi then took a gap year before college, fundraising and traveling to all 50 U.S. states to interview people across the country about their experiences with race. Their most recent book, Tell Me Who You Are (Penguin Random House, June 2019), shares reflections and stories from their journey and was called “at once hopeful, raw, and brimming with curiosity, engagement and youthful energy” by the writer Roxane Gay. Along the way, they were named two of Teen Vogue’s 21 under 21 Young People Changing the World and the youngest TED Residents ever. They have spoken at dozens of venues, including at TEDWomen in 2017 (their talk, “What it takes to be racially literate,” has over 1 million views), TED Residency 2018, United Nations’ Girl Up Conference, Gucci’s Chime for Change Conference, NEA’s Racial and Social Justice Conference, MSAN, SERC, MTI, Google, GoPro, and over a dozen schools nationwide. In 2022, they each graduated from Harvard and Princeton University.