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Our Favorite, Super-Fundable, Early-Stage Social Change Projects

Fall, 2015

Our global portfolio boasts nearly 1200 social change start-ups. Who are the best of the best?  Here are some of our top picks this fall.

Additional investments will make a real difference in helping these projects grow to their next level.

Thell Robinson, A Thug is a Dud, Columbus, Ohio

Mediating violent conflicts, helping gang members create productive lives.
Tags: Social Justice, Human Rights

In the past year alone, this 100% community-based anti-gang program has successfully mediated 38 high intensity, violent conflicts between gangs in Columbus’ East Side. They mentored and trained 23 violent youth, the majority of whom used the program’s ongoing support to find jobs, leave gangs and/or continue their education. The program is run and operated by former felons and former gang members. They do not collaborate with police or government agencies, and their primary strategy is earning and maintaining the community’s trust, which is likely the secret of their success. Read more…

Jenny Lowrey, From the Ground Up Farms, Chico, CA

Community gardens and nutrition education for vulnerable, residential populations.
Tags: Environment, Community Health, Food Security

Jenny Lowrey, From the Ground Up FarmsFrom the Ground Up Farms has planted 10 free community gardens in homeless shelters, residential facilities for recovering drug addicts and people with mental illnesses, a battered women’s shelter, a home for runaway youth and a low income daycare facility in Chico, CA. They don’t just build gardens- they train residents and clients to tend to the gardens, and use the food grown in their meals. They hope to install 10 more gardens in 2016. Read more…

Michelle Carrera, Chilis on Wheels, New York, NY

A mobile, all-volunteer vegan soup kitchen operating in 5 cities.
Tags: Human Rights, Animal Rights, Homelessness

Michelle Carrera Chilis on WheelsChilis on Wheels cooks and distributes chili to homeless and hungry people. With a volunteer team of 34 (many of whom are under the age of 18), they serve 800 meals a month. They have 4 other chapters in Portland, Denver, San Diego and Puerto Rico and 10 more locations hoping to launch soon as funding allows. It is rare to see human rights causes that have an appreciation for animal rights; and rare to see an animal rights cause with an appreciation for human rights. Chilis on Wheels bridges these two, often mutually exclusive issues, in a positive and proactive way. Read more…

Ayla Schlosser, Resonate, Kigali, Rwanda

Leadership training for Rwandan women.
Tags: Women’s Leadership & Empowerment, Africa

Ayla Schlosser ResonateResonate advocates for women to take more control of the decisions that impact their lives, their families and their communities. The core Resonate training is based on Marshall Ganz’s successful personal narrative storytelling framework, coupled with professional and leadership development. In the 2 years since they launched, they have partnered with 25 different organizations and trained 800 women. Their goal is to train over 10,000 women by 2018. Read more…

Corinne Hindes and Katrine Kirsebom, Warm Winters, Walnut Creek, CA

Teenage ski racers mobilizing a youth army to serve homeless people.
Tags: Homelessness, Youth Service

Corinne Hindes, Katrine Kirsebom, Warm WintersThrough their Warm Winters Program, Corinne and Katrine partner with ski resorts, ski teams and schools to collect warm clothing, socks and personal care items for homeless people. To date, they have engaged 300 youth leaders in 8 states and have 17 ski resort partners. In a very short time, Warm Winters has donated upwards of 10,000 winter clothing items to homeless people with huge expansion plans on the horizon. Read more…

Anne Pollack, Crossing Point Arts, New York, NY

Trauma-informed art classes that provide hope and healing to survivors of human trafficking.
Tags: Art, Human Trafficking, Human Rights

Anne Pollack, Crossing Point ArtsIn a city where low estimates show that 2,500 youth are actively being trafficked, Crossing Point Arts seeks to provide a medium for healing and resiliency. In the 18 months since the program started, 15 trauma-informed teaching artists have reached 650 girls and women survivors in 85 workshops in 4 different anti-trafficking agencies. Caseworkers in these agencies have anecdotally reported better outcomes for their clients who participate. Not surprisingly, the demand for this popular program has increased and the team is hoping to expand much further in 2016. Read more…

Aneri Patel, EnVenture, Uganda and India

Micro loans and entrepreneurship training to CBOS to distribute green technology solutions.
Tags: Social entrepreneurship, micro lending, environment, Africa

Aneri Patel, EnVentureEnVenture is creating more access to clean energy and clean water in developing countries. Their micro finance enterprise works with Community Based Organizations in Uganda and India to support green technologies at the community level. To date, EnVenture has supported rural Ugandan CBOs to launch 4 stores selling sustainable technologies and hopes to launch 5 brand new projects in 2016. Read more…

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