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2016 winner

Centering Pregnancy South Carolina

South Carolina, USA

Amy Crockett

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Liberty Fellowship

An innovative model of group prenatal care that leads to healthier moms and babies and is winning over doctors, Medicaid and private insurers with millions in savings.

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Every year in the United States, more than 500,000 babies are born preterm, resulting in neurosensory and cognitive disabilities, and lifelong disparities in education, health and employment. South Carolina in particular faces stark preterm birth rates worse than those of Sudan.

With this context and at a time when health care costs are soaring, Dr. Amy Crockett is leading an expansion of CenteringPregnancy, an innovative model of group prenatal care that leads to healthier moms and babies and has cut costs across South Carolina. When Amy discovered that the social bonds created in group prenatal care significantly improved the birth outcomes of her own patients, she decided to make it her Fellowship venture to create state-wide access to the model.

CenteringPregnancy dramatically reduces preterm birth rates, eliminates racial disparities in infant health, and slashes neonatal intensive care unit admissions, resulting in state medical savings of more than $7 million. Furthermore, Amy has convinced Medicaid and BlueCross BlueShield to come on board, ensuring that more than 85 percent of pregnant women in South Carolina now have access to it. Amy's leadership and research are spurring other states and even countries like Mexico to replicate the model and improve birth outcomes.

“This is value based care, where we measure impact based on transformative outcomes for our patients like fewer preterm births, instead of the number of ultrasounds I do. It is a profound change in the way healthcare is delivered.” Dr. Amy Crockett

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2016 Laureates

Mandakini Women Weavers

India

Mukti Datta

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India Leadership Initiative

In the wake of massive floods in 2013, Mukti Datta applied her experience improving rural economic situations by replicating the Panchachuli Women Weavers model she pioneered. Mandakini provides women with sustainable livelihoods linked to global markets, the success of which has catalyzed the creation of a new hub for handlooms to scale opportunities for women weavers across India’s Himalayan region.

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Esperanza

Panama City

KC Hardin

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Central America Leadership Initiative

Working at the individual, group, and community level to address the root causes of gang violence in Panama City, real estate developer KC Hardin is succeeding in demobilizing street gangs and reintegrating members into society through a holistic curriculum of education and entrepreneurship, followed by supporting them in finding alternative, productive sources of income and a sense of dignity in the historic city center.

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iSimangaliso Rural Enterprise Accelerator Program

South Africa

Andrew Zaloumis

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Africa Leadership Initiative - South Africa

A beautiful and vital UNESCO World Heritage Site, iSimangaliso Wetland Park in Kwazulu-Natal is also situated in one of the poorest regions of South Africa. Park CEO Andrew Zaloumis founded this program to transform an aid-dependent economy by providing entrepreneurs with training, mentorship and seed capital to start small businesses in and around the historic park to ignite a cycle of job creation and economic growth.

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2015 winner

B Lab

US-based with global operations

Jay Coen Gilbert, Andrew Kassoy & Bart Houlahan

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Henry Crown Fellowship

B Lab is transforming corporate culture and redefining success in business, so that companies measure their impact on society and the environment with as much rigor as they manage their profitability.

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Entrepreneurs Jay Coen Gilbert, Andrew Kassoy, and Bart Houlahan all left successful careers in the private sector to co-found B Lab. Through their diverse experiences, they recognized the tremendous capacity within the private sector to also create public benefit – benefit for workers, for communities, and for the environment.

The nonprofit behind the B Corp movement, B Lab serves a growing community of people who recognize the potential of business to act as a force for good. By introducing innovative frameworks and tools to hold companies to higher standards of social and environmental performance, B Lab is leading a paradigm shift in which companies are agents of change and driving positive impact on society.

B Lab’s global community now includes over 1,400 Certified B Corps in 42 countries, from startups to multinational corporations including Patagonia, Etsy, Kickstarter, Natura, d.light, and Warby Parker. In addition, over 35,000 businesses and other institutions use the B Impact Assessment as a tool to manage their impact. B Lab has also played a critical role in passing a new legal structure – the benefit corporation – in 31 U.S. states.

"Business is not only a tool to maximize shareholder value, but a tool to create value for all of society. Business can, and must, create a shared and durable prosperity for all of us." Jay Coen Gilbert

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2015 Laureates

Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator

South Africa

Nicola Galombik

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Africa Leadership Initiative South Africa

With her broad expertise in the business sector and experience in the public and social sectors, Nicola Galombik created Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator, a public-private job placement and employability program to solve two crucial challenges facing South Africa: a surplus of unemployed disadvantaged youth excluded from the labor market, and a shortage of work-ready young people for entry level jobs. 
 
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Fish Forever

USA

Brett Jenks

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Catto Fellowship

Conservationist Brett Jenks founded the Fish Forever alliance to reverse the global decline of small-scale fisheries and tropical marine habitats by empowering local communities to protect and manage the resources they depend on, so that both people and nature can thrive.
 
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Nutrivida

Costa Rica

Gisela Sánchez

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Central America Leadership Initiative

Engineer and food industry executive Gisela Sánchez has pioneered a line of fortified food products, Nutrivida, designed to eliminate malnutrition, particularly in children.

Engineer and food industry executive Gisela Sánchez has pioneered a line of fortified food products, Nutrivida, designed to eliminate malnutrition, particularly in children. The products are sold throughout Costa Rica by a variety of vendors and partners from local saleswomen to NGOs and major super stores.

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2014 winner

Bulungula Incubator

Eastern Cape, South Africa

Réjane Woodroffe

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Africa Leadership Initiative South Africa

By finding a way to enact lasting change in this region, the BI is a beacon for rural communities struggling with similar issues. Most importantly, these communities have ownership over the improvements they make, creating a virtuous cycle of civic involvement and improvement of quality of life.

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Réjane Woodroffe left her career as an economist and investment manager to co-found the Bulungula Incubator, which has built a replicable, bottom-up model that places marginalized rural communities on secure footing.

The Bulungula Incubator currently works in four remote villages with a total population of 6,000 people, located in the former Transkei region of South Africa, an area declared a separate homeland under Apartheid. The region has been neglected by the central government of South Africa and deprived of development and basic infrastructure. Ninety-six percent of the people live on less than $6 a day, most adults are illiterate, only 10% have a high school education, and roads and electricity are rare.

The BI, in full partnership with community members, has created world-class preschool education system, mobilized community members to provide basic health care, and employment and created infrastructure and awareness to ensure clean water, among other significant achievements. The BI’s successes are carefully documented and the model is poised to be replicated throughout rural South Africa and beyond.

"Poverty is something much deeper than just not having material resources. It’s about having the ability, the confidence and the agency to make a plan and change your life into something you'd want it to be for yourself and your family" Réjane Woodroffe

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2014 Laureates

Youth Local Councils

Palestine

Lana Abu-Hijleh

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Middle East Leadership Initiative

Development expert Lana Abu-Hijleh is building the capacity of the next generation of Palestinian leaders, providing 7,000 youths a chance to participate in and run their own electoral process, respond to constituent concerns, plan and execute community imp

Development expert Lana Abu-Hijleh is building the capacity of the next generation of Palestinian leaders, providing 7,000 youths a chance to participate in and run their own electoral process, respond to constituent concerns, plan and execute community improvement projects, and shadow local ministers and council members to learn good governance practices and become engaged citizens in the political process. 

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Global Genes

US

John Crowley

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Henry Crown Fellowship

After his own movie-inspiring search to find a cure for his children, biotechnology CEO John Crowley turned his sights on helping other rare disease sufferers.

After his own movie-inspiring search to find a cure for his children, biotechnology CEO John Crowley turned his sights on helping other rare disease sufferers. He co-founded the Global Genes project to unite existing networks for over 7,000 rare diseases into a powerful alliance for advocacy, lobbying, information, support, and research sponsorship. 

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Proyecto País

El Salvador

Arturo Sagrera

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Central America Leadership Initiative

El Salvadoran retail and manufacturing executive Arturo Sagrera is enlisting teens to end the epidemic of gang violence sweeping the nation.

El Salvadoran retail and manufacturing executive Arturo Sagrera is enlisting teens to end the epidemic of gang violence sweeping the nation. Combining personal development programs and soccer, Proyecto País convenes parents, community stakeholders, and private businesses to promote leadership and peaceful co-existence in 43 communities nationwide.

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Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative

Nigeria

Maryam Uwais

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Nigeria Leadership Initiative

Responding to the crisis of women’s education and health in northern Nigeria, made infamous by Boko Haram, human rights attorney Maryam Uwais set up the Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative to give women and girls education in literacy, health and childbirth ass

Responding to the crisis of women’s education and health in northern Nigeria, made infamous by Boko Haram, human rights attorney Maryam Uwais set up the Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative to give women and girls education in literacy, health and childbirth assistance, income generating skills, and the voice to take more ownership and leadership in their communities.  

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2013 winner

Hope Credit Union

Mid South, US

William Bynum

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Henry Crown Fellowship

By opening the doors of economic opportunity to underserved individuals across the country, Hope has proven that financial institutions focused on community development can truly transform weak economies into stronger, sustainable ones, and improve the lives of thousands of people in the progress.

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Burdened with the highest poverty rates in the nation, individuals, businesses and communities in the U.S. Mid South have long suffered from a lack of access to traditional financial services. Bynum, an advisor to Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama on community development issues and Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute, founded HOPE to provide financial services that support jobs, housing, access to health care and other critical needs in the region’s most distressed communities.

Since 2008, as other institutions were closing their doors in underserved communities, HOPE has responded by extending a lifeline to residents in Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee and Arkansas. During this period, HOPE has expanded from three to 15 branches; increased its member-owners from 9,000 to 28,000; and closed more than 7,200 consumer, mortgage and small business loans totaling more than $260 million. HOPE is working to double the number of people and places it serves in “bank deserts” in the region.

"Hopelessness in a community is when there isn't a clear path to a better future.  At Hope, we provide a vehicle for people to work together and boost each other up to that next rung on the economic ladder." William Bynum

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2013 Laureates

Araku Originals Ltd

India

Manoj Kumar

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India Leadership Initiative

CEO of the Naandi Foundation, Kumar created Araku Originals Ltd to enable the inhabitants of the Araku Valley to change the economics of their coffee farms by harnessing the power of niche global markets to build economically and environmentally sustainable

CEO of the Naandi Foundation, Kumar created Araku Originals Ltd to enable the inhabitants of the Araku Valley to change the economics of their coffee farms by harnessing the power of niche global markets to build economically and environmentally sustainable sources of income.

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Ocean Plastic Project

San Francisco, CA

Adam Lowry

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Catto Fellowship

Co-founder and Chief Greenskeeper of Method Products, Inc, Lowry adopted the Ocean Plastic Project from his experience in the Catto Fellowship.

Co-founder and Chief Greenskeeper of Method Products, Inc, Lowry adopted the Ocean Plastic Project from his experience in the Catto Fellowship. Through his company, Method, he’s pioneered a completely new technique and supply chain for harvesting, recycling and producing new plastic from the immense garbage patches polluting the Pacific.

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FundWell

San Francisco, CA

Chinwe Onyeagoro

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Henry Crown Fellowship

Top management consultant and advisor to Fortune 1000 executives Onyeagoro noticed that qualified businesses in inner cities that should have access to affordable financing were being shut out of credit markets due to information inefficiencies, she co-foun

Top management consultant and advisor to Fortune 1000 executives Onyeagoro noticed that qualified businesses in inner cities that should have access to affordable financing were being shut out of credit markets due to information inefficiencies, she co-founded Fundwell with Sharon E. Jones to connect under-served business owners with lenders locally and nationwide as well as improve their financial health.

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2012 winner

Aspire

India

Amit Bhatia

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India Leadership Initiative

Former founder and head of the McKinsey Knowledge Center, Amit Bhatia created Aspire to train students from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds to become English fluent, tech-savvy, problem-solving new hires ready to fuel India’s new economy.

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2013 Update: Since winning the Prize in 2012, Aspire has expanded to over 60,000 students in 100+ colleges across 16 Indian states. To achieve their goal of training 1,000,000 students by 2022, Aspire has also expanded to teach life & employ­ability skills to K-12 students, and is now partnering with Aspen India to give high-school students values-based leadership.
2012: To enable India's youth to participate in the world economy, Aspire provides youth studying in semi-urban and rural educational institutions the knowledge, and behavioral skills to gain employment and succeed in their chosen career.  Job seekers need to be fluent in English, able to problem-solve, and work in teams.  They need the etiquette and the confidence to be able to interview, win a job and talk to clients. 

Eighty-percent of Aspire students are first generation college students.  They are children of farmers, fishermen, factory workers, without worldly education or exposure.  they are from underdeveloped hard-to-access areas and themselves had no route to decent jobs. With a small transformation in their skills, millions of kids can be made relevant to the new economy. Aspire helps young people advance the last mile between having a degree and having a job.
 
Prior to founding Aspire, Bhatia served as CEO of WNS Knowledge Services, a division of WNS Inc, listed on the NYSE in 2007, and had successful stints at Freemarkets, American Express, and McKinsey & Co., where he created the McKinsey Knowledge Center. In 2007, Amit decided to leave the private sector and found Aspire, a for-profit social enterprise created to address the critical gap between education and industry.
 
India, a nation of 1.1 billion, has 320 million youths in schools and colleges. Unfortunately, less than 25 percent are employable due to knowledge, skills, and attitudinal gaps. To date, Aspire has trained over 52,000 students enrolled in 80 institutions across 16 Indian states.

Aspire is the bridge between basic education and the skills need to be employable, between the old and the new, between the big cities and the small towns,between the have's and the have-nots.

Amit Bhatia

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2012 Laureates

FUEL Trust

South Africa

Charles Luyckx & Gary Campbell

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Africa Leadership Initiative South Africa

Former top-level restaurant industry executives CHARLES LUYCKX & GARY CAMPBELL,  created FUEL to ensure meals reach needy public school students so that they are able learn at school by providing systems analysis, support and training inside South Afric

Former top-level restaurant industry executives CHARLES LUYCKX & GARY CAMPBELL,  created FUEL to ensure meals reach needy public school students so that they are able learn at school by providing systems analysis, support and training inside South Africa’s Dept of Education.

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Vital Voices Guatemala

Guatemala

María Pacheco

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Central America Leadership Initiative

Rural development entrepreneur Maria Pacheco is working to end social and economic underutilization of women across Central America by connecting, bringing visibility to and training women leaders in all sectors.

Rural development entrepreneur Maria Pacheco is working to end social and economic underutilization of women across Central America by connecting, bringing visibility to and training women leaders in all sectors.

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CAPTA

Panama

Hildegard Vásquez

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Central America Leadership Initiative

Architect and urban planning activist, Hildegard Vásquez, founded CAPTA to empower marginalized women with self-reliance and the practical skills to gain employment, break the cycle of poverty and retain their homes in rapidly gentrifying communities.

Architect and urban planning activist, Hildegard Vásquez, founded CAPTA to empower marginalized women with self-reliance and the practical skills to gain employment, break the cycle of poverty and retain their homes in rapidly gentrifying communities.

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2011 winner

NEXT

Nigeria

Dele Olojede

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Africa Leadership Initiative South Africa

Dele Olojede, Africa's only Pulitzer Prize-winner and former Foreign Editor of Newsday left his comfortable exile in New York to start and run a new generation of newspapers in Nigeria, NEXT.

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2013 Update: NEXT has come through a period of adversity since winning the Prize in 2011, as dedicated opposition from Nigeria's political and business elite (often indistinguishable) economically pressured NEXT and forced it to go on hiatus. It will re-emerge later this year as a pan-African online newspaper.

2011: Launched in 2008, NEXT is revolutionizing the Nigerian media. Dele and 55 young people are bringing honest, unbiased investigative reporting to a continent, country and city whose gigantic potential is stymied by corruption, the wealth gap, and an acceptance of the status quo. By its example, NEXT aims to change Africa¹s future by changing expectations, elevating debate, remaining incorruptible and holding elites and governments to account.

Running a 24-hour newsroom on diesel generators, due to a dilapidated electricity grid and attempts at sabotage. Despite efforts to quash their popularity, 234NEXT.com is the most trafficked news site in Nigeria. While Nigeria has one of the highest rates of newspaper consumption in the world, established papers are paid to keep big stories off the front page. The expectation that ads buy silence makes revenue a challenge for NEXT, but they’ve reported stories that have been buried for a generation in the face of constant official resistance.

NEXT revealed that almost the entire government (including three former presidents) had been bribed individually by Halliburton, and separately that the Oil Minister was sitting on foreign oil company boards in a blatant conflict of interest. No prosecutions or resignations occurred. NEXT revealed that despite the country's poverty, Nigeria’s legislators were the highest-paid (and least efficient) on the planet. When NEXT revealed that the nation’s biggest oil tycoon had ‘forgotten’ to pay $600 million in taxes over five years, officials were forced to seal off the tycoon’s residence to recover taxes - unprecedented for the wealthy in Nigeria. That story, although huge, was ignored by all other publications and lost NEXT scores of advertisers.

NEXT’s biggest scoop was that President Yar'Adua was secretly brain dead and not “returning soon from a Saudi hospital” as promised. Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan had not been authorized to step up, paralyzing the government and letting the First Lady take over the patronage machine. The story had immediate impact. Goodluck Jonathan was made acting president by the legislature (despite an attempt to install the comatose President in the executive residence) and State Security Services (SSS) forces stormed NEXT’s offices. The attack on NEXT was held off only by a few local police and the intervention of the SSS’s chief. Today Goodluck Jonathan is the elected President of Nigeria.

NEXT began on Twitter before launching a website and then the print newspaper. The site 234Next.com, receives over 3 million impressions and 600,000 unique visitors a month. As the technological landscape of Africa changes, NEXT is moving to an SMS and mobile-based platform. The economics of news are complicated by outright sabotage (paying newsmen to put NEXT under other papers or dump them), but NEXT has taken the steps to make sure its content remains accessible across Nigeria and Africa.

Ultimately, the goal of NEXT is to unshackle the immense potential of Nigeria by destroy both the elite's web of corrupt patronage and shake the Nigerian people out of their sense of helplessness to change their country.

“In a country where the ruling elite bribe the media to influence coverage, NEXT’s reporters can’t be bought or bullied. We look like revolutionaries for reporting the facts."
Dele Olojede

Meet our Laureates

LAUREATES 2011

This year's laureates: B Lab (Andrew Kassoy & Jay Coen), Denver Scholarship Foundation (Tim Marquez), LINC South Africa (Ann Lamont), Libras de Amor (Alejandro Poma), and NEXT (Dele Olojede).

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2010 winner

Rocketship Education

San Jose, CA

John Danner

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Henry Crown Fellowship

Rocketship Education is pioneering a unique hybrid education model, transforming elementary education by building high-performing, scalable, sustainable schools in high-need neighborhoods.

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2013 Update: Rocketship has only continued to expand since 2010, growing from 1,500 students to 3,800 with plans to reach 25,000 in five new cities by 2017. Rocketship's schools together constitute the best-performing California school district for low-income students, with 80% of students scoring proficient or advanced on standardized tests. In February 2013, co-founder John Danner stepped down after 8 years to begin Zeal, an online startup offering free education to a potential 2 billion students.

2010: Founded in 2006, Rocketship Education, is building a national network of high-performing urban college preparatory elementary charter schools. Rocketship’s mission is to eliminate the achievement gap in public education, by proliferating its network of K-5 charter schools in high-need neighborhoods throughout the country. Each Rocketship school has a clear and simple goal: that its students achieve grade-level proficiency upon graduation from elementary school. Rocketship's goal rests on evidence that the path toward college must begin much earlier in a child’s life. Research has shown that third grade achievement is highly correlated with college attendance and graduation. Rocketship’s first school, Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary School (RMS), opened in August 2007 in San Jose, CA. Its second school, Rocketship Sí Se Puede Academy, opened in the fall of 2009; a third school, Rocketship Los Sueños Academy, opened in the fall of 2010. Two additional Rocketship schools will open in the fall of 2011; Rocketship will expand its network to 30 schools by 2015.

Rocketship’s success is due to three core values: Individualization, Leadership and Empowerment. Individualization is made possible by the hybrid school model, which combines traditional classroom teaching with individualized instruction using tutors and technology to meet the specific needs of each and every student. The hybrid school model confers significant advantages in three areas: academic achievement, teaching quality/leadership, and financial sustainability.

First, teachers can maximize classroom time for instruction, guided practice and extending critical thinking skills, while scheduling tutors and technology for students’ core skills acquisition, independent practice, assessment and remediation/acceleration. In addition, the hybrid school model creates significant cost savings, which are reinvested in programs and people to drive school quality. Third, by reducing staffing requirements, it is easier to fill all our classrooms with top-quality teachers. Finally, this model enables Rocketship schools to operate solely on traditional public school funding, without the need for philanthropy. By individualizing instruction, developing great classroom and school leaders and empowering parents to transform the political system, Rocketship will continue to drive world-class student achievement.

"The gap in learning between students in low-income neighborhoods and students in middle and high income neighborhoods is real and alarming, despite enormous investments of time, energy, and funds." John Danner

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2010 Laureates

High Resolves Initiative

Sydney, Australia

Mehrdad Baghai

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Henry Crown Fellowship

An entrepreneur, author and adviser, Mehrdad co-founded High Resolves with his wife Roya in order to create a highly participatory leadership experience that transforms the way high school students see their place in the world.

An entrepreneur, author and adviser, Mehrdad co-founded High Resolves with his wife Roya in order to create a highly participatory leadership experience that transforms the way high school students see their place in the world. Students are engaged through a three-year curriculum consisting of innovative simulations that imprint learning that is far more visceral and lasting than that generated by scholarly discussion. The program gives students the skills and confidence they need to design and lead projects to improve their schools and to serve their communities. To date, High Resolves has engaged over 10,000 students in high schools across Australia and is expanding rapidly.

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Aspire Human Capital Management

India

Amit Bhatia

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India Leadership Initiative

Bhatia left a successful career as a CEO of NYSE-listed WNS Knowledge Services, to focus full-time on India's severe job-talent disparity.

Bhatia left a successful career as a CEO of NYSE-listed WNS Knowledge Services, to focus full-time on India's severe job-talent disparity. India is the youngest nation on the planet, with 500 million new job seekers entering the job market in the next 15 years and only a small percentage of them actually considered "skilled" enough to be employed. Aspire provides training to college-age students and the unemployed, partnering with corporations to ensure that students learn skills needed now in the workplace. Aspire is scaling quickly across India's semi-urban and rural areas, with over 30,000 students currently enrolled across 8 Indian states.

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Glasswing International

El Salvador

Diego de Sola

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Central America Leadership Initiative

De Sola believes that individuals should be involved, take action, and give back to their communities.

De Sola believes that individuals should be involved, take action, and give back to their communities. A real estate development CEO, de Sola began Glasswing, an innovative volunteering initiative designed to leverage individuals', communities', and companies' financial and material resources together for the betterment of society. Serving as a convening agent and catalyst, Glasswing has mobilized over 12,000 volunteers from various sectors and more than $2m to strengthen health, education and other causes in El Salvador. The independent non-profit sees itself as a "zipper" for society, breaking paradigms and leaving a sense of common purpose in its wake.

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Acumen Fund Fellows Program

New York

Jacqueline Novogratz

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Henry Crown Fellowship

Novogratz is seeding the next generation of leadership for the social sector by training young people with a combination of business and nonprofit skills.

Novogratz is seeding the next generation of leadership for the social sector by training young people with a combination of business and nonprofit skills. To date, the Fellows program has trained 24 individuals of 16 different nationalities; all of them furthering the vision of patient capital of the Acumen Fund - the successful nonprofit venture capital fund that invests patient capital in businesses providing critical goods and services to the poor, where Novogratz is founder and CEO. The Fellows Program will launch its first regional program in Kenya in 2011 with the aim of developing thousands of leaders around the world in years to come.

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2009 winner

Ashesi University

Ghana

Patrick Awuah

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Africa Leadership Initiative

A transformed Africa begins with a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders. Patrick Awuah founded Ashesi University in 2002 with a bold mission: to create a new kind of university, one that focuses on quality, ethics and personal empowerment. Ashesi University aims to be the spark of a revitalized Africa; a catalyst for new enterprises, new solutions and a model for other universities in Africa.

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2013 Update: In 2011, Ashesi University moved to it's new, permanent campus outside of Accra, Ghana. This will allow the University to grow to over 1,000 students and add majors in engineering, economics and law, as well as expand recruiting and scholarships across Africa. Ashesi remains a leader in undergraduate education in Africa, with 100% of graduates finding quality placement and 95% choosing to remain in Africa.

2009: A transformed Africa begins with a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders. Patrick Awuah founded Ashesi University in 2002 with a bold mission: to create a new kind of university, one that focuses on quality, ethics and personal empowerment. Ashesi University aims to be the spark of a revitalized Africa; a catalyst for new enterprises, new solutions and a model for other universities in Africa.

Ashesi University offers a 4-year undergraduate liberal arts education with a focus on business, technology and leadership. The rigorous liberal arts education promotes critical thinking skills that give students the confidence to tackle complex problems and make positive contributions in any setting. Ashesi students participate in a required four-year leadership seminar series, which challenges them to discuss issues critical to building a better society. Students identify ways they can be of service in selected communities and volunteer their time, knowledge and skills. Examples of Ashesi student projects include: teaching basic business skills to former child soldiers from Liberia, volunteering at orphanages and working with NGO’s to provide women micro-financing to support their businesses.

The university currently enrolls 424 students, 46% are women and close to 40% of the student body receives financial aid. The Ashesi experience is made rich and varied, with curious students from diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds from across 14 different African countries.

Ashesi has graduated 173 students to date and nearly 100% of Ashesi alumni have found quality employment within months of graduating. Africa’s top firms value their problem-solving skills, work ethic and ethical behavior. While some are starting their own businesses and others are helping existing businesses to succeed; each is helping to revitalize the local economy.

Ashesi’s goal is to broaden their impact within Africa by growing to 2,000 students while maintaining their selective standards, small class sizes, and world-class academic quality. The university has recently broken ground on a new campus outside of Accra, where students of diverse backgrounds can live and study together.

"Our current and future leaders confront an incredible opportunity to drive a major renaissance in Africa. The way we educate our leaders will make all the difference." Patrick Awuah

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2009 Laureates

Hope Community Credit Union

Mississippi Delta Region

William Bynum

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Henry Crown Fellowship

A pioneer in the community banking industry, Bill founded Hope to serve the “unbanked” of the Mississippi Delta Region and has helped thousands to get the resources they need to rebuild their lives and homes following hurricane Katrina.

A pioneer in the community banking industry, Bill founded Hope to serve the “unbanked” of the Mississippi Delta Region and has helped thousands to get the resources they need to rebuild their lives and homes following hurricane Katrina. Hope offers access to affordable financial tools including commercial loans, mortgages, and rebuilding assistance to the nations poorest region and currently has over 27,000 members, 75% from low-wealth communities. Its success in strengthening communities, building assets and improving lives over the last decade has made Hope one of the nation’s leading community development organizations.

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Agora Partnerships

Nicaragua

Ricardo Terán

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Central America Leadership Initiative

After being raised and educated outside of his native Nicaragua due to civil war, Ricardo returned to co-found Agora with the conviction that small business entrepreneurs creating jobs in competitive, growth-oriented companies are the keys to attacking pove

After being raised and educated outside of his native Nicaragua due to civil war, Ricardo returned to co-found Agora with the conviction that small business entrepreneurs creating jobs in competitive, growth-oriented companies are the keys to attacking poverty and generating broad-based wealth in poor countries. Agora provides the in-depth consulting and support needed to launch successful, socially responsible enterprises, while their Venture Fund provides long-term strategic capital. Over the next three years Agora will expand operations to serve hundreds of growing businesses in Central America and Mexico.

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Project Rebirth

New York

James Whitaker

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Henry Crown Fellowship

At the heart of filmmaker Jim Whitaker’s Project Rebirth is a unique film chronicling the strength of human spirit coping with disaster: the aftermath of September 11, 2001, released in 2010.

At the heart of filmmaker Jim Whitaker’s Project Rebirth is a unique film chronicling the strength of human spirit coping with disaster: the aftermath of September 11, 2001, released in 2010. Moving beyond the film, Jim seeks to aid victims of traumatic events, as well as first responders and to improve specialized care and support during and after major disasters with a Project Rebirth Center, currently rebirth-based educational and therapeutic content is being distributed through strategic partnerships with world-renowned research institutions and global service organizations.

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2008 winner

VisionSpring

Africa, Asia & Latin America

Jordan Kassalow

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Henry Crown Fellowship

2013 Update: VisionSpring's success since 2008 has been remarkable: growing from 200,000 to 1.35 million people wearing their glasses, and expanding the number of female Vision Entrepreneurs from 1,000 women in six countries to 8,000 women in 20 nations. While it took 10 years to reach 1 million customers, it will take only two to double that—they reached 525,000 in 2013 alone. In 2009, only 8% of their budget was covered by sales; in 2013, that will reach 50%. In addition, El Salvador is now VisionSpring’s first profitable country, with major regional scaling plans underway.

2008: A successful NY optometrist, Jordan has devised an innovative way to deliver affordable reading glasses to some of the world's poorest hardest to reach communities. He created franchise partnerships to use a "business in a bag" model containing everything that a rural entrepreneur needs to start a business selling reading glasses, thus creating jobs in underserved communities while providing glasses on a sustainable basis for the poor, for whom loss of income due to deteriorating vision is most devastating. VisionSpring now has over 850 "vision entrepreneurs" who have sold nearly 1 million pairs of glasses in India, Mexico, Latin America, and Africa.

Dr. Jordan Kassalow launched VisionSpring (formerly Scojo Foundation) in 2001 with the goal of meeting the global market failure for reading glasses. While working as an optometrist in the developing world, Jordan noticed that over 40% of his patients were losing their jobs because they could no longer see to work. Without clear vision, weavers could not set their looms, farmers could not sort seeds, and artisans could not see to create intricate designs. The loss of income due to deteriorating vision was devastating to poor communities. A pair of ready-made reading glasses, a basic product available in every drugstore in the US, would restore their vision and productivity, yet reading glasses were not available to those living on less than $4 a day.

To address this market failure, Jordan realized he would need to devise a creative, innovative system for delivering affordable reading glasses to the world’s poorest, hardest-to-reach communities. The answer? A “Business in a Bag” containing everything that a rural entrepreneur needs to start a business selling reading glasses, thus creating jobs in underserved communities while providing glasses on a sustainable basis for the poor.

Jordan first focused VisionSpring on developing replicable systems for training entrepreneurs in Latin America and India. In 2006, as a result of his leadership training as a Henry Crown Fellow at the Aspen Institute, Jordan began to develop creative strategies for broadening VisionSpring’s impact to reach millions in need and to create the long-term, lasting global impact that first drove his idea for VisionSpring. He recognized an opportunity to license VisionSpring’s Business in a Bag model to existing rural networks, such as microfinance borrowers and community health workers, thus reducing the burden of building costly new infrastructure and vastly speeding up the time it takes to reach scale. VisionSpring “Franchise Partner” organizations would benefit from the addition of an income-generating product along with the transfer of skills and knowledge gleaned from VisionSpring’s rural sales experience.

Scojo estimates that its economic impact to date is more than $70 million in increased earnings in the world’s poorest communities. A pair of VisionSpring reading glasses can yield a more than 17-fold return on investment in increased productivity for the wearer per year. Further, VisionSprings Vision Entrepreneurs, most of who work on a part-time basis, earn more than $400 in additional income per year. VisionSpring believes its long-term, global impact will occur on multiple levels.

Currently, VisionSpring is building one of the first global networks of organizations providing goods and services to the “Base of the Economic Pyramid.” In the long-term, VisionSpring aims to be the catalyst that proves to large optical and healthcare companies that poor communities represent viable markets, thus prompting the global business community to serve the rural poor with affordable, life-improving products and services.

"We create livelihoods for our entrepreneurs and sustain livelihoods for our customers." Jordan Kassalow

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2008 Laureates

High Resolves Initiative

Australia

Mehrdad Baghai

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Henry Crown Fellowship

A venture capital entrepreneur and author, Mehrdad has created a hands-on educational initiative to teach high school students about leadership, resolving conflicts, justice, and about becoming purposeful global citizens.

A venture capital entrepreneur and author, Mehrdad has created a hands-on educational initiative to teach high school students about leadership, resolving conflicts, justice, and about becoming purposeful global citizens. Through a creative mix of interactive simulations, role-playing exercises and small group discussions, the High Resolves Initiative seeks nothing less than to transform the way kids see their place in the world and imagines a community in the future where a critical mass of its leaders are trained to think and act in the collective interest. To date, High Resolves Initiative has engaged over 5000 students in high schools in Sydney, Australia and is still expanding.

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Hope Community Credit Union

Mississippi Delta Region

William Bynum

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Henry Crown Fellowship

A pioneer in the community banking industry, Bill founded Hope to serve the “unbanked” of the Mississippi Delta Region and has helped thousands to get the resources they need to rebuild their lives and homes following hurricane Katrina.

A pioneer in the community banking industry, Bill founded Hope to serve the “unbanked” of the Mississippi Delta Region and has helped thousands to get the resources they need to rebuild their lives and homes following hurricane Katrina. Hope offers access to affordable financial tools including commercial loans, mortgages, and rebuilding assistance to the nations poorest region and currently has over 27,000 members, 75% from low-wealth communities. Its success in strengthening communities, building assets and improving lives over the last decade has made Hope one of the nation’s leading community development organizations.

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Switch

Guatemala

Sylvia Gereda

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Central America Leadership Initiative

Cultivating and empowering leadership among the youth of Guatemala is the principle objective of Sylvia's project Switch, a magazine designed and edited by and for young people; it succeeds first in its editorial council - a select group of aspiring young j

Cultivating and empowering leadership among the youth of Guatemala is the principle objective of Sylvia's project Switch, a magazine designed and edited by and for young people; it succeeds first in its editorial council - a select group of aspiring young journalists committed to social change. These young people in turn bring the extraordinary accomplishments of young leaders in academics, arts, sports and community work to the nationwide attention of their peers through the publication of weekly profiles. Sylvia Gereda is a courageous journalist and founder of the first independent newspaper in Guatemala - elPeriodico. To date, Switch has featured over 125 such cover stories and continues to inspire the young people of Guatemala with positive role models and expand its message of hope.

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