As we tick down another year and look back at all the milestones of the past year and plan for the next, it is time to also consider some of the wonderful organizations that are making an impact around the world.
Here is my list of a dozen that are making a difference in no particular order. Most of them are young organizations that are just getting started and an opportunity for you to get involved and help them on their way.
Greentown Labs http://greentownlabs.org/ An incubator for clean technology ventures that allows entrepreneurs to get down and dirty constructing their next generation green machines. Setup as a nonprofit and collaborative, Greentown provides a unique location for startups that need to build stuff.
Sol Solution http://www.sol-solution.org/ A nonprofit that helps underprivileged schools to save on expenses by installing solar solutions to offset their electricity expenses.
Social Capital http://www.socialcapitalinc.org/ Social Capital inc has worked over the past 10 years to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals, neighbors and organizations and bringing them together through civic initiatives
ABAN http://www.aban.org/ Is a young organization that I came across during a visit to University of North Carolina that was started by a team of passionate students that works with the street girls of Accra to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future as well as helping them transform their city into a healthier environment.
Space with a soul http://www.spacewithasoul.org/ is another innovative nonprofit that provides shared office space and services to nonprofits. A great landing place for emerging nonprofits as they get started.
Peace First http://www.peacefirst.org/site/ Peacefirst works to build a safe and productive environment at schools by teaching students the skills of conflict resolution and civic engagement.
Samarthanam http://www.samarthanam.org/ Samarthanam is a nonprofit registered in India and the US that provides quality education, accommodation, nutritious food, vocational training to help empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged in India. It runs a free middle school for underprivileged youth including the visually handicapped.
Merrimack Valley Sandbox http://www.uml.edu/mvsandbox/default.html Launched in 2010 November by the Deshpande Foundation, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox works with students in the Lowell/Lawrence area through partnerships with colleges and community organizations to build leadership and entrepreneurship within the Merrimack Valley.
LifeCity http://mylifecity.com/ LifeCity helps encourage green businesses in Louisiana through its membership organization where customers get discounts to green businesses and products and green businesses certified by LifeCity get greater visibility and support from LifeCity members.
Peacetones http://peacetones.org Peacetones supports talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities.
Vision Aid http://visionaid.org/ VisionAid works to help people with visually related disabilities in underserved areas to lead a life of independence and dignity.
Ummeed http://ummeed.org/ is a nonprofit that works with children with developmental disabilities in Mumbai and is one of the few that helps bring professional support to this segment of society in India.
Last year I had the opportunity to participate as a judge and mentor in the inaugural competition, MassChallenge. This is a serious business competition that has shown it can attract top quality concrete job creating ideas from round the world. Over 450 entries applied and 110 finalists were incubated for 3 months including free office space, introductions to VC, funders, customers and team resources.Sixteen finalists split $1 Million including $100,000 for the top finisher. Seeding Labs, profiled elsewhere on my blog, won $50,000 as the Social Impact finalist and also was offered free office space for another nine months.
It is real exciting the see the lineup of speakers that will be at the upcoming ForSE 2010: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on October 30 at Northeastern University. ForSE 2010 brings together social innovators, leading business professionals, investors, donors, government officials, academics, and students to share new technology and business ideas with the potential for significant social impact.
Don’t just take our word for it – see what others are saying about the speakers who will be at ForSE 2010.
Of Prof. Ramesh Raskar and NETRA, his low-cost, cell-phone based, optometry solution, Xconomy.com says, “Camera Culture: Ramesh Raskar, perhaps the Doc Edgerton of the future, dreams of creating “femto” cameras that operate at a trillion frames per second”
Seeding Labs CEO Nina Dudnik has been chosen as a 2010 PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and presented at the recent PopTech last week in Maine. “PopTech Social Innovation Fellows are visionary change agents who are incubating high-potential solutions to pressing global challenges.
Pradip Sarmah, Ashoka Fellow and Founder of Rickshaw Bank, an NGO that provides micro-finance to Indian rickshaw drivers, invited to participate at MIT D-Labs
Jose Gomez-Marquez, another fabulous speaker in the Health track, is named by Smart Planet as “master of invention” in their news piece about his many inventive creations.
Yesterday MassChallenge, the year long business competition, announced the winners of the grand prizes. With over $1 Million in prizes, this has drawn international attention as one of the largest business plan competitions. Starting with a pool of over 450 applicants, the judges winnowed it down to a final list of 111 selected companies that were provided free space for three months and mentoring to help them refine their business ideas and pitches. 26 teams were chosen from these finalists to the final round to make their pitch to a world renowned panel of judges.
The competition was fierce as this was not some college level biz plan competition. Several companies were startups by veteran entrepreneurs. Progressive thinking MassChallenge also included a category for enterprises with significant Social Impact.
Last night Seeding Labs learned that they were the winners of the $50,000 prize for their entry in the social impact category. Seeding Labs mission is to support and expand scientific research in developing countries by providing affordable reclaimed laboratory equipment and facilitating connections within the global scientific research community. Their simple focused approach won over the judges. Seeding Labs has been on a tear having recently been invited to the TED Global conference as a TED Fellow; was awarded the Young Professional Award by the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network; and have been named a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow.
Seeding Labs is one of the featured speakers in the Technology Track for ForSE 2010: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs to be held on Saturday, October 30 at Northeastern University. For information and to register for ForSE 2010: http://www.forumse.org
I recently had the opportunity to host an amazing group of people visiting from India. The Sunadha dance troupe, part of the Samarathanam Trust for the Disabled based in Bangalore was visiting Boston. We had the opportunity to see them perform at the Sri Lakshmi Temple where the visually disabled dancers performed an amazingly choreographed set of dances.
Dancers from Sunadha troupe
Samrathanam was founded by Mahantesh, who is also visually disabled, to help provide opportunities for deserving, young, and talented children with disability of any form, or from marginalized economic backgrounds. Over the years they have built a school that provides education for over 600 disabled children and is designed to meet the needs of the physically challenged. Continue reading →