About a month ago, I announced the I Will Teach You To Be Rich Scholarship for Social Innovation, a $2,500 award for a pro-social entrepreneurial venture.
I received over 200 applications from around the world, and today I’m thrilled to announce the finalists.
Christina Maria DesVaux, 25, Montevideo, Uruguay. Founded The Curation Project, a web-based store that allows local merchants to sell their local goods sustainably and online.
Kjerstin Erickson, 25, Oakland, CA. Founder and Executive Director of Forge, an organization that provides economic and educational skills to African refugees living in refugee camps.
Robert Garey, 27, and Jennifer Hovee, 23, both of Seattle, Washington. Providing value-added micro-loans to former prostitutes in the Dominican Republic (via Esparanza International.
Garrett Gravesen, 28, Atlanta Georgia. Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, Global L.E.A.D. Program, a non-profit that has worked with more than 1,000 volunteers to help children affected by HIV/AIDS. (See him on CNN.com.)
Greg McGrath, 24, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Founder of EOS International, a not-for-profit company that focuses on empowering the poor with technology.
Stephanie Sud, 24, San Francisco, CA. Board member of Ashraya, a micro-charity in Northern India that provides grants and aid to over 3,000 girls and women.
Claire Adams Williams, 26, Argentina (currently reading at Oxford University, MBA 2009 Skoll Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship ). Co-founder of Hope Runs, an organization in East Africa that partners with AIDS orphanages to provide extracurricular programming for orphaned children.
What made these finalists stand out? Their applications were superior, they had demonstrated entrepreneurial excellence, and they had an uncommon sense of realism at the challenges they’re tackling. They dreamed big: When they detailed what they would use the award for, none of these finalists planned to use the money on advertising (which is equivalent to flushing your nonprofit money down the toilet). Instead, they showed how they’d executed on their plan, and what the scholarship would do for them going forward.
I’ll announce the winner later this February, but I was really pleased at the quality of many of the applications — not just the finalists.
The point of this scholarship is to give people the resources — money, mentoring, and connections — to help them create a successful pro-social program that scales. And to show that we don’t have to wait until some mythical day to give back to others.
To all applicants: I appreciate the amazing applications I got, and I plan to continue and expand this program over time.