Archives

Meet Carolina. She’s the founding CEO of The Elevate Prize Foundation, a global purpose-driven nonprofit that serves to amplify social impact and empower passionate problem solvers, leaders, and innovators. Latinos hold just 1% of foundation and not-for-profit CEO positions and less than 10% of program officer positions, yet Hispanics represent 20% of the U.S. population. Join us to make good famous

More than two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations have adopted strategies to tackle the societal inequalities and global problems that COVID-19 has laid bare by prioritizing sustainable impact. As leaders navigate this “new normal,” they are honing long-term, revolutionary ideas aimed to address some of the workplace’s most pressing issues, including diversity, climate change, and income inequality. 

Read article

This year for Juneteenth my team at the Detroit Justice Center (DJC) is reflecting on what true safety means, particularly in light of the horrific violence in recent weeks. We mourn those killed by gunmen who opened fire at a Buffalo grocery store, an elementary school in Uvalde, a hospital in Tulsa, and in countless other shootings. I keep coming back to a question I often ask: How do we create the types of communities that will allow Black people, trans people, indigenous people—and all of us—to have all of the elders that we are supposed to have? This question helps to center me in our work and reflect upon the legacy of the liberation struggles of our ancestors.

Our organization uses Juneteenth as a time to recharge, rest, and re-energize our own freedom dreams. Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery, and it also marks the early days of the Reconstruction Era. The question of that political moment, “what do we build instead of an oppressive system?” is a question that movement leaders and communities still ask today about systems that perpetuate poverty and violence.  

We have an opportunity to build new pathways to true safety—and we can take the lead of people across the country who are already doing it. We can learn from violence interrupters, restorative justice practitioners, community safety teams, youth-led healing hubs, and those championing cooperative economics. On a recent episode of DJC’s Freedom Dreams podcast, we spoke with leaders from Detroit Heals Detroit and Detroit Safety Team about how they are reimagining public safety and building the types of communities where every life is valued. 

In order for us to have all of the elders we’re supposed to have, we must transform the unsafe systems that leave people vulnerable to disease, violence, and premature death. If we see Juneteenth as not only a remembrance of where we’ve been but a marker for where we’re headed, we might find new opportunities to build safety together and heal from pervasive interpersonal and structural violence.

Though hard-won strides have been made for equality over the last decades, LGBTQ youth are still – and increasingly – under attack. Not only from homophobic and transphobic legislation that’s making it’s way into law in Florida, Georgia and 33 other states, but in their homes, from the people who are supposed to love and support them the most – their families.

“On day two of the lockdown when we were all called to stay home, indoors, to be with our loved ones, to be safe, our kids were denied that,” says Alex Roque, President and Executive Director of The Ali Forney Center. One former resident of the Center was sent home from college and tried to move back in with her family, only to have the door closed in her face. “How deep-rooted is this hatred for our community, that during one of the darkest and most uncertain times in our lives, her parents wouldn’t open the door to let their child in, to be safe, to be loved?”

LGBTQ+ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness. And that’s where The Ali Forney Center steps in to offer vital help. 

The center started with 6 cots in a basement in NYC, where 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+. Now, 20 years later, Ali Forney is the nation’s largest non-profit for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. Its mission? Not only to provide shelter for homeless LGBTQ+ youth, but to protect, educate, mentor, and create real, love-filled homes for them too. This comprehensive, caring support can make a huge difference in preparing young people to lead independent lives. 77% of Ali Forney’s residents in transitional housing are in school, and 99% are employed. 

How YOU can help

Learn more about Ali Forney’s work and mission.

Join the community on social media

Directly support a homeless LGBTQ+ young person by purchasing an item  from Ali Forney’s Amazon wish list.

Be a donor.

Volunteer!

Even as lockdowns around the world start to ease, it’s clear to see that the pandemic has changed all our lives. That’s been a stark reality for Elevate Prize winner Dr. Dixon Chibanda of Friendship Bench, an organization that trains grandmothers to provide talk therapy from benches in the hearts of their communities. Not only did he contract COVID-19 himself, he also had to deal with the loss of colleagues (“when there are only 15 of us [psychiatrists] in Zimbabwe that has a profound impact”) and the challenges of addressing a mental health crisis that shows no signs of abating.

More adults than ever are reporting high levels of stress and anxiety, with older people being the most impacted by the isolation and disruption of lockdowns. And for young people, the picture is just as concerning, with a 6% increase in severe depression among adolescents.

As we navigate the challenges of our world – not only the pandemic, but everything from the threat of climate change and unprecedented burnout, to polarized politics, and the rising costs of living – our mental health is tested. But, Dixon says, there are things we can do to build our resilience.

“Right now, people should be asking themselves: what are my anchors, and how can I strengthen them?” says Dixon. “Every human being has anchors – they’re what you fall back on when faced with adversity – or even if you’ve just had a bad day. Take time to think about what your anchors are, and nurture them.”

Admittedly, for some, this might seem like a daunting task. When getting through the day-to-day is already a struggle, focusing on future mental health can feel out of reach. Yet, though all of these anchors might not be accessible for everyone, Mental Health Awareness Month reminds us that finding a way to invest in even one can be transformative for our mental health. As Dixon says,  “the key to dealing with adversity in the future is cultivating ways of dealing with it now.” 

Some common anchors – and how to cultivate them. 

Focus on relationships:
“It’s important to have people you can turn to. Who makes you happy? Connect with those people. Reach out to old friends – rekindling a relationship can be very positive. ”

Get more sleep: 

“One of the most important anchors is sleep. It’s so critical in terms of how we function. Make sure you’re getting enough for you. That’s fundamental.”

Read a book: 

“Reading is therapeutic. It’s never a waste of time. I mean reading outside of your work or profession. I love reading novels – and I make time to do it every day.”

Get some exercise: 

“There are so many benefits from exercise. Whether it’s going for a walk or finding a sport you love. I love to run, I love to teach karate.”

Hang out with some animals: 

“Animals are great therapeutic support. I have dogs and ducks and chickens and fish and I talk to them all the time. Being able to relate to another sentient being is powerful and soothing.” 

Inspired to learn more about Friendship Bench, and the impact and importance of therapeutic conversations and connections?

Watch Dixon’s TED talk.

Looking for other ways to get involved?

Explore Friendship Bench’s Community Minds resource to find advice and support. 
Follow the Friendship Bench online community for helpful mental health tips, participate in live, talks, webinars and keep up-to-date with global news.
Start your own Friendship Bench!
Donate! Even a small donation can help make a big difference. 

“We all contribute to the puzzle.” That’s what Elevate Prize Winner Kaushik Kappagantulu, the Founder and CEO of Kheyti reminded us, during an Instagram Live celebrating Earth Day. “It’s a big world and all our actions are interconnected.”

Kaushik was talking with Program Manager, Alex Rosales, about the complex challenges of climate change, and how only focusing on one solution is a mistake.

“We must remember the people at the heart of this,” says Kaushik. “Farmers need to make money and eat and feed their families, but we also have to make sure that their actions are sustainable. If we only focus on sustainability but not on livelihoods, that’s a mistake.”

That’s why Kheyti developed greenhouses that enable farmers to grow all year long, protecting their crops from weather, heat and pests. The greenhouses mean that crops can grow with less fertilizer, fewer pesticides (up to 90% fewer!) and less water, while also improving yields and outputs – and they’re the cheapest greenhouses on the market.  

Though we can’t all design greenhouses, there are ways that we can bring design thinking into our own approaches to tackling climate change. “Start by asking yourself, who is the problem impacting? And how do I engage with that in my local area?” says Kaushik. “Not everyone needs to start a new company. There are all kinds of ways to deepen your understanding of the problem and come up with new ways to help.”

Though it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the immense challenge ahead, Kaushik remains “informedly optimistic!”

“It took humanity a thousand years to create climate change and it will take us a while to solve it, but collectively, we will! Just thinking about this challenge is important – ten years ago, far fewer people were even doing that! Now, more and more people are thinking about it and taking action on it every day.

“Start small. Read, learn, spread the word, have conversations with people, engage with the issue and engage with people working on it. Remember, it’s not something that any one of us can solve alone – I used to feel the real weight of that, so it’s good to remember, this will take a huge collaboration. What any individual contributes is just part of it. We’re aiming towards a movement.

“Above all, hold onto a sense of optimism. Hold onto that momentum that we get in Earth Month, and carry it through to the next year – and the years ahead. We will solve climate change together. I have faith in us.”

So how can we help Kheyti as they focus on their part of the great puzzle of environmental change?

  1. Check out the Kheyti’s website, and join the conversation on social: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn.
  2. Dive deeper. “We maintain a list of other organizations working in the field, so work with us, or work with them! Reach out to us and we’d love to help you learn more about this ecosystem as a whole, and other people who are making an impact,” says Kaushik.
  3. Join Kheyti. Literally. “We want to double our team in the next year!” Kaushik noted. 

That was one of the questions that our own Elevate CEO, Carolina Jayaram posed in a recent Instagram Live with Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D., Executive Director of Miami Waterkeeper, an organization dedicated to protecting the water in and around Miami.

“All politics is local,” Rachel reminded us during the conversation. “Here in Miami if even 10 people show up to a meeting about an issue, that’s a big deal. If your Senator receives 10 calls about an issue, that makes a huge difference. Not only should you know who your elected officials are, they should know who you are! They work for you. They need to listen to you.”

So, what’s the best way to get the message across?

“Deliver your message politely, but in a way that is heard,” Rachel noted.

“Every day, stay informed about the issue.

Every week, make a call.

Every month, show up.

In the worlds of [the anthropologist and activist] Margaret Mead ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’ We really can make a difference.”

Looking for resources including talking points, draft emails, dates, times and places where you can make your presence count? Waterkeeper’s website makes it easy to take action.

Catch up on the conversation here:

video

Other ways to help:

  • Join Waterkeeper’s 1000 eyes on the water program. You’ll be trained on what to look out for, so if you see something that doesn’t look right, you’ll know what to do.
  • Encourage a high schooler in your life to apply for the Junior Ambassador Program.
  • Make a donation to continue to fund action to protect our water.

There are lots of ways to participate in Earth Month, from getting involved with the Great Global Clean Up, to supporting the  Canopy Project. It’s a great opportunity to take personal steps towards living more mindfully, and engaging in conversations with others as to how we can reduce our impact on the world.

Over on Instagram, we’ll be discussing both ends of the spectrum – how we act on an individual and on a societal level to protect our planet – and our future. We hope you’ll join us!

First up on Tuesday 4/19, a conversation between two Miami superstars, Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D., Executive Director of Waterkeeper, and Carolina Jayaram, our very own CEO. We’re excited to learn more about how we can help keep our water safe for swimming, fishing and drinking – and how the organization’s 1000 eyes on the water program is helping to do just that. Plus, tips on local beaches? (please!)

Then, on Thursday 4/21, hear from Elevate Prize Winner Kaushik Kappagantulu about how his organization Kheyti is helping farmers in India adapt to climate change and earn reliable, climate-resilient incomes – something that could have a huge global impact.

Whatever you’re doing this Earth Month, we hope that you find time to reflect on our impact on the planet – and what we can do to change the trajectory of climate change. Be part of the conversation – and be part of the action.

Let us know what you’re up to! [social links]

Or, if you’re still looking for some ways to get involved, here are some ideas:

“There are 500 million small farmers around the world. They work hard all year long, but they are not able to have any control over their profits because of climate risks — and climate change is making the situation worse.”

It’s estimated that in India, over 100 million small farmers actually lose money every year from agriculture. That was the challenge that motivated Elevate Prize winner Kaushik Kappagantulu to co-found Kheyti.

Working in partnership with thousands of farmers, the organization created Greenhouse in a Box — and offered it to farmers at 10% of the cost. “It’s a small-sized greenhouse that protects crops from environmental risk,” says Kaushik. The greenhouse comes covered with insect netting and shading cloth, and has a drip irrigation system to help farmers grow seven times more food using just 1/50th of the water.”

In order to ensure farmers’ success, Kheyti also provides business and growing support. “We work with banks to help farmers get loans, we work with import companies to get farmers seeds and nutrients, and we work with market companies to help farmers sell their produce.”

The goal? To help people become climate-smart farmers.

“Our farmers earn on average $100 a month, which they can use to invest in healthcare, send their children to school, and live lives of dignity,” Kaushik says “Right now we’re helping 300 farmers, but we want to work with a million farmers. We want to drive a smart farming revolution. Together, we can make it happen!”

How can I help?

Last week, Mackenzie Scott published a post on Medium announcing “465 non-profits converting $3,863,125,000 into meaningful services for others.” We were excited to see so many inspiring organizations receiving additional funds — including our own Elevate Prize winners Friendship Bench and Talking Points. They joined Elevate Giving participants Black Teacher Collaborative and Sanku, a nonprofit that received a gift last year . 

 

Recipients, whose work covers a wide range of societal issues, from climate change to social justice, include Equality Now, CARE, the Climate Justice Resilience Fund, and Habitat for Humanity.  

Approximately 75% of the organizations listed have leaders with lived experience of the challenges they are addressing. Friendship Bench, for example, was created by Dr. Dixon Chibanda as a direct result of his experiences as one of only 15 psychiatrists in Zimbabwe. His ability to harness (to use Scott’s words) “insights no one else can contribute,” is clear to see in the organization’s work — training grandmas to provide talk therapy from benches in the hearts of their communities.

Approximately 60% of the organizations on Scott’s list are led by women, including Talking Points. Founder Heejae Lim was inspired to create her multilingual technology platform as she reflected on her experience growing up as a Korean immigrant and seeing her mother make a difference in her education because she had the voice to do so.

Like The Elevate Prize, the funding that Scott provides is unrestricted. “I believe that the gifts will do more good if others are free from my ideas about what they should do,” Scott writes. “This trust — another resource it’s difficult to measure — is the aspect of the gifts that many have said they value most.” 

“It’s important to trust nonprofit leaders to make their own funding decisions,” says our CEO, Carolina Jayaram. “I believe if you thoughtfully design a robust selection process that finds the world’s greatest leaders, it’s best to let those proven problem solvers tell us what support they most need and how to put the funding to its best and highest use.”

In total, Scott has unlocked a total of over $12 billion dollars of potential impact. We’re excited to see how recipients will use those funds to power change. And we’re happy to see, from the public reaction to the announcement on social media, that many people are inspired by Scott’s generosity to take action themselves. Her example reminds us that we can all use our resources — money, time, energy, influence — to make a difference. Together, we can help build the fairer and more equitable world we want to see — today, and in the years to come.

MIAMI – March 10, 2022 – The Elevate Prize Foundation announced today the appointment of several key leadership positions, including Jewel Malone as Chief Operating Officer and Matthew Minor as Chief Impact Officer. Both Malone and Minor, who assumed their roles in March and February respectively, will support the Foundation’s growing efforts to empower social impact leaders and inspire positive change around the world.

  • Jewel Malone brings more than 15 years of experience bridging public and private partnerships across corporate, government and nonprofit sectors to her new role as COO of The Elevate Prize Foundation. In this capacity, she will oversee finance and operations for the Foundation, with a focus on building and measuring its operational effectiveness and efficiency in support of the Foundation’s efforts to scale its powerful mission. She comes from YoungArts, The National Foundation for the Advancement of Artists, where she most recently served as Executive Director and held previous leadership roles with the Chicago Children’s Choir, City of Chicago, and JPMorgan Chase. Throughout her illustrious career, she has successfully stewarded over $40 million in charitable grants toward community development, education, arts and culture and relief programs.
  • Matthew Minor, who previously served as Senior Programs Director, is being promoted to Chief Impact Officer. In this newly created role, he will spearhead strategic partnerships for the Foundation while ensuring its wider efforts are aligned with its mission and vision to inspire others to drive positive change around the world. Before joining the Foundation, Matthew served as the Director of International Programs at Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, he oversaw the development and implementation of the organization’s global expansion, which contributed to over $25 million in funding commitments for entrepreneurs. Prior to Solve, Matthew served as Program Manager at the Clinton Global Initiative. 
  • Alex Rosales joins as Program Manager, charged with overseeing the strategic development of The Elevate Prize, the Foundation’s signature program that annually recognizes 10 social entrepreneurs, providing them with funding and tailored resources to help expand their work and grow their impact. Born and raised in Miami, Alex brings experience managing multi-million-dollar donor-advised grantmaking accounts, scholarship programs for student across Miami-Dade County, and several grantmaking initiatives, including the LGBTQ Community Fund and Community Grants Program, and most recently, providing support for the Racial Equity Fund from his work at The Miami Foundation.
  • Cara Politi starts as Senior Community Manager, responsible for driving The Elevate Prize Foundation’s social media strategy. Bringing strategic communications experience rooted in supporting nonprofits, she most recently served as a digital communications specialist for ICF Next focused on transportation equity. Additionally, she was responsible for building online communities of sustainably minded New Yorkers, which she plans to translate to her new role at the Foundation in building the world’s first fanbase for social good.

“We have never faced a more important time in history to step up and take collective action to address injustices around the world,” said Carolina Garcia Jayaram, CEO of The Elevate Prize Foundation. “I couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome these dynamic new members to the Elevate team, who bring diverse perspectives, innovative ideas and a passion for social impact. Together, we aim to deliver on our mission to amplify the work of impact leaders, drive change together and awaken the hero in all of us.”

Founded by Joseph Deitch in 2019 and headquartered in Miami, The Elevate Prize Foundation aims to serve as an engine for social good by helping changemakers raise their visibility and ability to inspire others, ultimately multiplying their impact to “make good famous.” The Foundation annually recognizes 10 social entrepreneurs and leaders, awarding them $5 million in unrestricted funding, mentorship and capacity-building resources. Additionally, the Foundation recognizes prominent individuals who use their influence to inspire social action, and recently named George and Amal Clooney the second-ever recipients of the Catalyst Award for their work with The Clooney Foundation for Justice.

 

###

About the Elevate Prize Foundation

Founded in 2019 by businessman, philanthropist, and author Joseph Deitch, The Elevate Prize Foundation aims to serve as an engine for social good by funding, guiding, and scaling the platforms of social entrepreneurs. The Foundation’s signature program is its annual Elevate Prize, which is awarded to 10 or more global leaders tackling pressing issues in innovative ways. The Elevate Prize Catalyst Award, another one of the Foundation’s programs, recognizes prominent individuals for their commitment to inspiring global social action and using their influence for the good of humanity. Through the Elevate Giving program, the Foundation allows everyday people the opportunity to engage in philanthropy. For more information, visit www.elevateprize.org and follow @ElevatePrize on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

That was the question author, speaker, mentor, and life coach Octavia Yearwood posed during our recent Insta live conversation with graphic artist, educator, and TikTok star Tony Weaver and musician and mentor Re@l.

All three have deal with the struggles of with creativity, both as artists and as mentors supporting others on the journey, so their answers were rooted in very practical experience.

Check out Tony and Re@ls’s ideas, insights and tips!