Meet the 2020 Finalists

By The Elevate Prize Foundation
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Trésor Nzengu Mpauni

The Project: Tumaini Letu
Coachella X Refugee camp : Creating Malawi’s largest arts and culture festival – in a refugee camp

Tresor Nzengu Mpauni

The Big Picture:
Trésor Nzengu Mpauni is amplifying connections and vital economic opportunity for the Dzaleka refugee community through what has become Malawi’s largest arts, music and culture festival – the very first to be hosted in a refugee camp.

“[It] is important to come together, to take risks, just as refugees did, to tell our… stories, or “just” celebrate together the joy of music.”
– Trésor Nzengu Mpauni

Follow the Tumaini Festival.

See Tresor’s application. 



Brisa De Angulo & Parker Palmer

The Project: A Breeze of Hope
Breaking the cycle of child sexual violence and supporting survivors to rebuild and heal.

Brisa De Angulo & Parker Palmer

The Big Picture:
Psychologist and attorney, Brisa De Angulu, and attorney, Parker Palmer, are healing the cycle of sexual violence against children. As survivors, both understood the reality that survivors are often met with disbelief or indifference, and they’re committed to changing that. Their work is 2-fold: first, prevention, through transforming the social norms that contribute to violence; second, they support child survivors, ages 0-18, in accessing justice, healing, and rebuilding their lives.

The fundamental needs the children express to us are to heal, rediscover themselves, learn to play again, and to make new paths forward into brighter futures.”
– Brisa De Angulo

Here are ten ways you can help.

See Brisa & Parker’s application. 



Fadi Daou

The Project: Adyan Foundation
Tackling extremism and conflict in the Middle East and North Africa, with interfaith literacy and religious inclusion.

Fadi Daou

The Big Picture:
Fadi Daou, founder of the Adyan Foundation, is taking grassroots approach to diversity and inclusion in the MENA region. He’s literally working for peace in the Middle East, by shifting deep seated negative stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings behind ongoing conflict in the greater Middle East. And it’s working. It starts with an interfaith curriculum that focuses on common values, and activates the community at every level, from youth to educators to policymakers. 

I discovered while leading this mission how much it responds to the genuine aspirations of the young generation in the region.
– Fadi Daou

Follow Adyan’s journey.

See Fadi’s application.



Erica Ford

The Project: LIFE Camp
A scalable model for creating vibrant, healthy communities where Black and Brown people can live and thrive.

Erica Ford

The Big Picture:
Erica Ford and her organization, LIFE Camp, is on the front lines of intervening in the violence that plagues Black and Brown communities, helping people heal and giving them the tools to live, build, and thrive. LIFE Camp has developed a scalable model –  the Crisis Management System – which combats the traumatic living conditions in target communities. The vision: to abolish the racist systems that perpetuate poverty, high unemployment, crime and marginalization. The proof: radically effective – 67% decline in homicides in 2017 alone. The approach: radically human – 100% community found and led. 

Right now, we can’t breathe. This work that I do, this project, is our oxygen mask. I will do this work until my last breath.
– Erica Ford

Check it out and get involved.

See Erica’s application.



Tashka Yawanawá

The Project: Yawanawa Life Plan
A long-term plan for indigenous peoples to survive and preserve their territory and culture.

Tashka Yawanawá

The Big Picture:
Tashka Yawanawá is the chief of the 1,200 Yawanawa people, indigenous to the Amazon forest. He is an active voice for the rights of indigenous people on the global stage and his people are fighting to preserve over 200,000 hectares of pristine Brazilian rainforest, which are under threat. His project, the Yawanawa Life Plan, lays out a roadmap for strengthening and invigorating indigenous culture, and securing systems for robust health, education, economy, culture, and territorial management that avoid reliance on the national government.


I had to break taboos to strengthen the culture. For me culture is not static, but it adapts to time.
– Tashká Yawanawa

Learn more and donate.

See Tashka’s application.



Chad Bernstein

The Project: Guitars over Guns
Music as the path to empowerment for youth in our most vulnerable communities.

Chad Bernstein

The Big Picture:
Chad Bernstein believes the ability to thrive in the face of adversity is part of what makes society’s greatest leaders. His organization, Guitars Over Guns, Chad Bernstein is blazing the trail for music mentorship as a way to empower at-risk teens. Guitars Over Guns gives urban teens from tough backgrounds consistent adult mentorship and mental health support, paired with weekly after-school music instruction, and live performance opportunities. The impact? Over 84% emerge with an increased sense of personal worth and value, improved social-emotional capacities, and attitude to the community. 

Music is the most important tool we have in reaching these kids.”
– Chad Bernstein

Connect and join for their next virtual performance: the Choose Your Sound on November 14, 2020.

See Chad’s application.



Salva Dut

The Project: Water for South Sudan
Empowering communities to access clean, safe drinking water.

Salva Dut

The Big Picture:
Salva Dut’s experience of civil war in Sudan, and growing up as a “lost boy” in refugee camps, gave him first-hand insight into the challenges people face. Challenges that he’s tackling from the ground up – literally – by helping communities drill water wells. To date, the organization has brought clean safe water to over 1,500,000 people – and it’s ready to do even more.  

They don’t have anything. And they need someone, a person – just a little thing – to open a door … to where they can change their whole lives by themselves.”
Salva Dut

Learn more about Water for South Sudan and what you can do to help.

See Salva’s application.



Dixon Chibanda

The Project: Friendship Bench Global
Providing evidence-based psychological therapy to communities… delivered by professionally trained grandmas.

Dr. Dixon Chibanda

The Big Picture:
Dr. Dixon Chibanda created Friendship Bench Global to provide care for people suffering from anxiety and depression. Grandmothers, specially trained in cognitive behavior hold sessions on wooden park benches – easily accessible to the community. Today, 700 grandma health workers have treated over 70,000 patients across Zimbabwe. The vision? More access in more countries – and go digital too. That’s where you can help. 

I’m here for you. Would you like to share your story with me?
– Dr. Dixon Chibanda

Discover the safe spaces that Friendship Bench creates – and see how you can support them. 

See Dixon’s Application.


Koketso Moeti

The Project: Amandla.Mobi
Amplifying the voices and collective actions of women impacted by poverty to drive change – with the simple cell phone.

Koketso Moeti

The Big Picture:
Koketso Moeti created Amandla.Mobi to empower those most impacted by poverty, violence and corruption – low-income black women – and to amplify their voices. The organization harnesses the power of the cellphone, to inform, connect, and activate communities to demand change to systems that keep people poor. What’s next? More campaigns. More impact. 

Turn every cell phone into a citizen activism tool. No matter where you live, what language you speak or what issues affect you, those of us affected by poverty can connect with others, and run local, national and global campaigns to hold government and businesses to account.
Koketso Moeti

Add your name to support a campaign. And learn more about Amandla.Mobi.

See Koketso’s application.



Michelle Mendez

The Project: Defending Vulnerable Populations Program (DVP)
Connecting immigrants to the resources they need for justice.

Michelle Mendez

The Big Picture:
Clinic launched the DVP to pursue social justice for immigrants, made vulnerable by the United States Government. At the heart of the program? A commitment to ensuring access and delivery of information, and building bridges to legal and social services. DVP uses accessible platforms (such as Facebook) to keep people informed and connected, so they can comply with regulations, present their cases, and feel valued. 

Our work… gives asylum seekers a fighting chance.
– Michelle Mendez

Support a scholarship that gives legal representatives crucial training. Donate and learn about DVP.

See Michelle’s application.


Amanda Nguyen

The Project: Rise Justice Labs
Empowering people to pen their own civil rights into existence.

The Big Picture:
“After my rape, I felt despair. But I also felt fire. When I met a broken justice system, I rewrote the law.” Now Amanda Nguyen’s organization Rise Justice Labs is helping others do the same. The social movement accelerator invests in people from impacted communities, and, through advocacy bootcamps, training, funding and access to legal services, empowers people pen their own civil rights into existence.

People provide the passion, and Rise provides the blueprint to make change in their own community. Rise Justice Labs is about empowering people to find their own place in a democracy that—after all—belongs to them.” Amanda Nguyen

Join the movement. Learn about current campaigns. Donate.

See Amanda’s application.



Chetna Gala Sinha

The Project: Mann Deshi Foundation
Financially empowering rural Indian women, to build businesses and livelihoods, and fight poverty.

The Big Picture:
Chetna Gala Sinha’s goal? To empower rural Indian women with the skills, access, and capital they need to become successful entrepreneurs. How? By creating access to and control over finance. For 23 years, Mann Deshi Foundation’s programs have helped more than 600,000 women builds livelihoods. By 2024, they aim to reach 1 million women. You can help. 

I noticed that women felt empowered once they owned their own assets. Their whole life changed and they gained status and dignity. When I saw that, it was very clear to me that I wanted to work with women and fight for their rights, especially women’s right of ownership of finance and property.”
– Chetna Gala Sinha

Learn more about the Mann Deshi Foundation – and businesses created by their entrepreneurs.

See Chetna’s application.



Felix Brooks-Church

The Project: Sanku – Project Healthy Children
Scaling an innovative food fortification technology to end malnutrition across Africa.

Felix Brooks-Church

The Big Picture:
Felix Brooks-Church is working to end malnutrition by adding vital micronutrients to staple foods. While food fortification is common in larger supply chains, it often skips over populations served by remote and developing areas, which tend to be served by small-scale, local mills. Sanku has developed an innovative food fortification technology – a dosifier – and business model that can be deployed in these areas: the hardest-to-reach areas. Partnering with local millers, Sanku is able to provide their dosifier and nutrient supply at no additional cost to local mills or customers. Their result of their unique, cost-neutral model: 100 million people gain access to critical, life-saving nutrients.

I infuse this “never give up” culture into our team and empower the millers we partner with as critical change-makers for their own communities.
– Felix Brooks-Church

Learn more about their game-changing solution.

See Felix’s application.



Frank Beadle de Palomo

The Project: Mothers2Mothers
Building a healthier, more vibrant Africa by providing jobs, mentoring and health services to women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Frank Beadle de Palomo

The Big Picture:
The Mothers2Mothers peer-based model employs and trains local women living with HIV (called Mentor Mothers) to provide crucial medical services, education and support to women and children. The organization has created 11,000 jobs for women and reached 11 million women and children under two through their services. 

“[We offer] an effective solution to a problem that has really vexed us for several decades [while] helping women help other women.”
Frank Beadle de Palomo

Learn more and support  Mothers2Mothers.

See Frank’s application.



Trisha Prabhu

The Project: ReThink: Conquering Cyberbullying
ReThink’s patented technology detects and stops online hate before it takes hold.

Trisha Prabhu

The Big Picture:
Trisha experienced cyberbullying firsthand as a girl and combating it has been her passion ever since. A 20-year-old Harvard undergraduate, she invented ReThink –technology that allows teens to pause before posting something offensive online. The approach has been shown to reduce offensive messages from 71% to 4%.  

There are so many people who really suffer from this issue. It really torments them, and they often feel helpless. Knowing that I can fight for their ability to be safe and respected online…. That is what pushes me to keep going.
Trisha Prabhu

Get ReThink and help spread the word.

See Trisha’s application.



Christopher Turillo

The Project: Medha
Preparing India’s next generation for the workforce by providing skills training, career counseling, and on-the-job work experience.

Christopher Turillo

The Big Picture:
There’s an employment crisis in India: More than 50% of the population is under 25, yet few have the skills, experience, knowledge or networks to succeed. Christopher and his team are facing this “demographic disaster” by providing cutting-edge skills training, career counseling and job placement for the underserved in order to prepare them for life after school.  

We have a long- term vision of mainstreaming our program into the existing education system, creating a systemic change in the way millions of youth are prepared for their life after school.
– Christopher Turillo 

Learn more about Medha and support opportunities for India’s future.

See Christopher’s application.



Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

The Project: Ideas Beyond Borders
Battling extremism by promoting ideas that foster critical thinking, civil rights, and science.

Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

The Big Picture:

Extremism often takes hold because there are no other ideas challenging it. Faisal and the IBB team translate, share, promote ideas that are otherwise unavailable to Arab youth, empowering them with knowledge in authoritarian regimes and dictatorships.  Their goal is to create a more modern, pluralistic Middle East. 

We are sharing fresh ideas with millions… I believe these ideas, this knowledge, will defeat ignorance and extremism more effectively than tanks and guns ever could.
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar

Join Faisal in fighting ignorance and empowering the youth of the Arab world.

See Faisal’s application.



Stephanie Benedetto

The Project: Queen of Raw
Transforming pollution into profit by rescuing unused textiles from landfills.

Stephanie Benedetto

The Big Picture:

Around the world, more than $120 billion of excess fabric ends up being burned or buried. Stephanie (known as the “Queen of Raw”) and her team have created an online marketplace for this fabric – matching buyers and sellers and keeping it out of landfills. 

This isn’t just about doing good for good’s sake. It makes economic sense and how can we show people the value of the circular economics.”
Stephanie Benedetto

Check out Queen of Raw and spread the word on how to get sustainable

See Stephanie’s application.



Iffat Zafar

The Project: Sehat Kahani – Health for All
Empowering women and expanding healthcare access through telemedicine.

Dr. Iffat Zafar

The Big Picture:

Much of the Pakistani population lacks access to quality healthcare, and the country is running short on female doctors. Iffat and the Sehat Kahani team are addressing both of these issues by offering telehealth solutions that connect underserved, low-income citizens with women in the medical profession. 

The way forward is a very different Pakistan, where healthcare is accessible to everyone in one form or the other.
Iffat Zafar

Connect and learn more about how Iffat and her team are bringing innovative mobile health solutions to Pakistan.

See Iffat’s application.