Launched in April in partnership with MIT Solve, the competition provides up to $5 million annually to help extraordinary purpose-driven leaders increase their impact and catalyze transformational change. Selected from nearly thirteen hundred applicants, the ten inaugural winners will receive $300,000 in prize funding, as well as professional development services and access to a network of partners, executives, and potential mentors. Over the next two years, the foundation will work with the recipients to amplify the impact of their efforts, share their stories, and build a base of supporters.
The inaugural Elevate Prize winners are Chad Bernstein, co-founder, president, and CEO of Guitars Over Guns, which works to empower the most disenfranchised youth in Miami and Chicago through mentorship and music; Felix Brooks-church, co-founder of Sanku, a Tanzanian NGO that fights malnutrition through technology that “doses” flour with the precise amount of added nutrients; Dixon Chibanda, founder and executive director of Zimbabwe-based Friendship Bench Global, which enlists grandmothers to serve as community health workers specializing in talk therapy; Fadi Daou, president of the Beirut-based Adyan Foundation, which promotes peace and spiritual solidarity through interfaith dialogue, education, and understanding; Brisa De Angulo and Parker Palmer, co-founders of A Breeze of Hope in Cochabamba, Bolivia, which provides free legal, social, and psychological services to victims of sexual violence; Alexandra Grigore of Simprints in Cambridge, England, a nonprofit that is implementing biometric solutions designed to give people in the developing world access to better health care; Koketso Moeti, founding executive director of amandla.mobi, a South African community advocacy organization whose inclusive mobile tech platform supports democracy-building by low-income black women through collective action; Amanda Nguyen, founder and CEO of Rise Justice Labs in Washington, D.C., a social change incubator dedicated to helping people champion their own causes and become leaders in their own right; Trisha Prabhu, founder and CEO of Chicago-based ReThink, an app that prompts users to think twice before sending a hurtful text or tweet; and Iffat Zafar, co-founder and COO of Sehat Kahani in Karachi, Pakistan, an all-female health provider network that provides quality telemedicine healthcare services.
“It’s been a challenging year for the whole world, but it’s also [shined] a light on those individuals and organizations who are using what’s happening around us as motivation to fight and solve for a better future,” said Elevate Prize Foundation founder Joseph Deitch. “When I started this journey, I envisioned a type of philanthropy more suited to the resources we can deliver today — a more entrepreneurial approach that goes beyond just monetary resources and provides comprehensive assistance to scale these worthy causes. With all that we’ll offer this cohort through the foundation over the next two years — from one-to-one mentorship to educational training to growing social platforms — I’m excited to help shepherd these heroes on their own journeys to changing the world — and awakening the hero in all of us.”