Winners Announced for Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change competition

The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers have announced the six winners of Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change! The challenge sought local initiatives that tap the power of empathy to strengthen communities and equip young people to become leaders of change.

How Canadian Coaches Are Shaping our Lifelong Love of Sport

What do you expect from your coach? Participating in your first sport experience as a child can be overwhelming. Kids are filled with nervous excitement, fear of the unknown, anticipation about all of the new friends to meet. They have an endless list of unanswered questions.

Turning up to your first sport experience as a parent can be just as daunting. Studies have shown that parents have three main hopes when their kids join sports:

·       to build self-esteem;

·       to have fun;

'Create value, before capturing value' - Marlon Parker shares tips that can help solve the youth employment challenge

“The Youth Cafe was an idea for a place to bring together young people, especially those who are underserved, unemployed and young people on the streets. It is a space where they can go to learn, enjoy a latte, a cafe snack. What was really unique about the cafe is that it is cashless. To spend in the cafe, they had to use our digital currency. This digital currency can only be earned by young people when they do good in their communities. The one thing we realize is that each and every young person can create value right where they are in their communities.

Webinar: Shattering Myths and Talking Trends in Youth Employment Innovations

Tune in to our G+ Hangout on November 4th at 8:00pm to discuss trends and myths in innovation for youth employment. Across Africa, as in the rest of the world, a faster pace in the workplace signals a drive towards a more creative talent pool that is not afraid to dabble in intrapreneurship and entrepreneurship. Many youth employment solutions incorporate skills training to unlock opportunities for the youth population.

Meet 30 Pioneers Redefining Play and Re-imagining Learning


“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood,” said Mister Fred Rogers, many years ago.

Arctic Winds of Healthy Change


Arctic Wind Riders is betting that a new, adrenaline-inducing arctic sport called kite skiing will change the fact that only 8 percent of boys and 4 percent of girls in Canada are as active as they need to be -- and these numbers drop further in remote and low-income areas.  

Webinar: How can Young Africans be Changemakers in the Workplace of the 21st century?

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Tune in to our G+ Hangout on October 9th at 12:30pm to discuss developing young leaders and changemakers in Africa. In the 21st century, employment, the workplace and the skill-sets that are needed to thrive are constantly changing.

Karen Mattison, Founder of Women Like Us/Timewise United Kingdom

“Karen is transforming the UK job market by opening up opportunities for flexible and part time roles.”

The Idea & Strategy

In 2005 Karen founded Women Like Us to provide career support to women who had dropped out of the workforce or been forced to take jobs beneath their skill-level in exchange for flexibility to cater for their families. Last year Karen launched Timewise Jobs and Timewise Recruitment, the UK’s only jobsite and recruitment agency exclusively focused on flexible and part time roles.

Andrea Bolnick, Founder of Ikhalayami South Africa

“Ikhalayami designs, implements and builds affordable upgraded shelters that are fire and flood retardant, easy to transport and quick to build. It reconfigures the layout of informal settlements to ones that are more regularized.”

The Idea & Strategy

Anil Patel, Founder of Timeraiser Canada


“Innovative way to shift the approach to volunteering. Potential volunteers bid for pieces of art using their valuable ‘volunteer hours’, not money. Winning bidders have 12 months to complete their volunteer pledge before proudly taking their art home.”  

The Idea & Strategy

Mel Young, Founder of Homeless World Cup United Kingdom

“Now, Mel is aiming to grow the movement to reach up to 1,000,000 people per year. To do this, he launched The Homeless World Cup Supporters Club: a virtual million seats stadium filled with people who believe in the power of football.”

The Idea & Strategy

ParticipACTION says it’s time to bring back play!


You may have childhood memories of playing outside for hours with your friends until you were called to come in for dinner. Unfortunately, many children aren’t playing that way today. Playgrounds, schoolyards, neighbourhoods, and parks aren’t as busy they used to be.

Africa Yoga Project: Inspiring Youth to Achieve Greatness

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Editors's Note: This article was written by Paige Elenson. Elenson is the Executive Director of Africa Yoga Project (AYP), a movement that empowers the youth through the transformative power of yoga. A native New Yorker and former Wall Street consultant, she has been teaching yoga for over a decade. Elenson’s incisive skills as a businesswoman, spiritual activist and yogini inspired her work with AYP. This article first appeared on Fair Observer on August 29, 2014.

Jack in the Box: The Failure of Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Editors's Note: This article was written by Maria Khwaja. Khwaja is the Founder of Elun, a nonprofit organization dedicated to teacher education in the developing world. Khwaja is also a teacher and completed her Master's in Education at Oxford University. This article first appeared on Fair Observer on September 25, 2014.

How To Use 'Muscular' Empathy To Drive Social Change

Lisa Bennett writes about how empathy can be tapped as a powerful force for creating change.

Congratulations to the Winners of the Safer Roads, Safer India Challenge!


Bangalore, India -- Four road safety entrepreneurs have been selected as winners in the innovation challenge “Safer Roads, Safer India: Game Changing Innovations that Save Lives.” Their projects were evaluated by an expert panel of judges and chosen as the top solutions from a pool of more than 80 entries that activate citizenship, improve governance to be more responsive, update infrastructure, and use technology to protect drivers, passengers, and bystanders.

Video Games and Tech: Key to Learning Success? Live G+ Hangout on Oct. 2

“We’re trying to change education in a positive way, that’s the overarching goal,” said Jan von Meppen. “Basically, we’re trying to achieve that by using storytelling to put learning content into context with the real world.”

Ewa Wojkowska, Founder of Kopernik Indonesia

"Ewa created distribution channels for last-mile communities who need access to products and technology, in 14 countries."

The Idea and Strategy

Ewa Wojkowska has created distribution channels that engage local civil society channels, organizations, cooperatives, savings and loans groups, local kiosks, funders, investors and technology producers to ensure that last-mile communities have access to much-needed appropriate technologies to address their basic needs. These technologies include water filters, solar lights and fuel efficient cook stoves.

Finalists Announced for The Play Exchange Challenge!


We asked you to share your ideas for a healthier Canada and your response was tremendous. The Play Exchange received an astounding 422 ideas from across Canada for empowering people to make healthier choices. We thank everyone who participated for sharing your solutions for promoting active, healthy living!

How This Time-Traveling Professor Is Re-Defining Play And Learning

You know the scene: elementary school students race out of the classroom at the sound of the school bell as the teacher tries to get in one last word.

“I won’t say it’s a Western World syndrome, but definitely there’s a huge number of children who are not very motivated to go to school and learn new topics,” said Bo Stjerne Thoms

Be Part of the Solution: How You Can Help Young People in Africa Find Jobs -- And Purpose

Young people everywhere crave having a purpose in our rapidly changing world. This has serious social, economic, and political implications for the sub-Saharan Africa region because it is on track to have the largest youth population in the world by 2050.

Maria Loretha, Founder of Yayasan Cinta Alam Pertanian Indonesia

"Transforming the perception of sorghum as a nutrient rich crop to cultivate in Indonesia" 

The Idea & Strategy

SMS Voting For Bangalore Choice Finalists Is Open!


Earlier this year, UL partnered with Ashoka, a global network of change makers, and launched the Safer Roads, Safer India: Game Changing Innovations that Save Lives challenge to increase public awareness of road safety challenges, crowd source solutions, and accelerate the rate of positive change. The Safe Roads challenge is part of a pilot being tested across India, with a focus on Bangalore, the country’s third-largest city.

Why overcoming challenges is key to effective leadership & entrepreneurial breakthroughs

Editor's Note: Below is a Q&A with Timothy J. McClimon, president of the American Express Foundation and vice president for Corporate Social Responsibility, American Express. Read more about the Ashoka American Express Emerging Innovators Bootcamp on the 2014 Emerging Innovators Campaign homepage

Fighting Heart Disease One Step At A Time


Members of Canada’s Aboriginal population are at a higher health risk than other Canadians. They are more prone to diabetes and 50 percent more likely to develop heart disease.

Storify Highlights from a #play2learn Twitter Chat on Aug. 26


We recently ran a Twitter chat to discuss how learning projects with a focus on play and whole-child development can make prepare young people in Asia to succeed in the 21st century. 

WATCH: Webinar on Collaborating to Solve Youth Employment

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Sub-Saharan Africa faces a paradox that has global relevance and implications: it will be home to the largest youth population in the world by 2050 and although literacy rates (by 6%) and education enrollment rates (by 9%) have been on the rise, youth unemployment continues to hover above 60% across the region. How will African youth create or secure sustainable and meaningful livelihoods? And more specifically, who is responsible for youth employment in Africa? 

What Being An Astronaut Taught Me About Healthy Living


“Regular exercise prepared me well for the demands of astronaut life, and it will prepare explorers of the future for their challenges,” said Robert Thirsk, former astronaut with the Canadian Space Agency and director of the board for LIFT Philanthropy Partners.

Meet the Building Vibrant Communities Judges

We’re honored and thrilled to announce the expert judges of the Building Vibrant Communities challenge! They are:

Cedric Brown: Managing Partner, Kapor Center for Social Impact


Finalists Announced for Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change

Please join us in congratulating the Finalists of the Building Vibrant Communities challenge! After receiveing more than 200 entries, 86 top entries were selected as Semi-Finalists. Now, 23 top Finalists will go on to the final judging round of the competition.

Inspired. Active. Independent: The Power of Storytelling in Healthy Living


While statistics show that participation in sport and physical activities is important to a person’s overall health, but how do we ensure all Canadians have access to these opportunities?

The African Youth Movement for Social and Economic Prosperity

Editor's Note: This Article was written by George W.Bakka. Bakka is Ugandan entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Angel's Hub and a Segal Family Foundation partner. He is also an Acumen, Anzisha and Educate! Fellow. This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post Blog on August 8, 2014.

Speak Up in a #play2learn Twitter Chat on Aug. 26

Photo courtesy of Tanoker - Ledokombo, a learning project in Indonesia that offers lessons in reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as sports, cooking, dancing, art, and music at the request of children.

Starting on the Right Foot—and Staying There


There’s no such thing as starting too early when it comes to forming healthy habits, according to the Healthy Beginnings for Preschoolers 2-5 team. They provide resources, training, and guidance to early learning practitioners that help ensure preschoolers are learning healthy eating habits and keeping active from an early age in in British Columbia, the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, and Quebec.

Activating Empathy to Create Change News Roundup

Finalists will be revealed on 9/3! Until then, we’ve rounded up top stories about empathy making waves as a powerful driver of change in communities. (Photo: NERDS (Native Education Raising Dedicated Students) is a Semi-Finalist of the Building Vibrant Communities challenge and is featured on the Ashoka Changemakers Instagram this week!)

But first, a few announcements:

Rehabilitating Young Offenders: Youth Employment in Kenya

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Fair Observer on July 30, 2014. This interview was conducted by AshokaVickie Wambura Wamonje is the founder of Nafisika Trust, a prison rehabilitation program that seeks to reduce recidivism rates among prison inmates in Kenya.

5 Ways You Can Be A Game Changer For Learning

We have to change the way the next generation of children learn, think and interact with people and the environment (both built and natural).

“This world requires a new paradigm for growing up and therefore also for education,” Bill Drayton wrote last year in Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Innovator Insights: Making It Safe to Report Sexual Assault Online

An astonishing 90 percent of assaults are committed by repeat assailants, and only 22 percent of sexual assaults on campuses are reported to authorities, according to estimates. Victims of sexual assault on college and university campuses need a safe space where they can report assailants in a transparent and confidential way —and where they can help put an end to what is often an ongoing cycle.

Innovator Insights: When Jobs Aren’t Enough

A former high school teacher, Jordyn Lexton recalls telling a student in her English class, “that, with hard work and over the course of time, he could achieve his goal of becoming an architect.

“As the words left my mouth, another student respectfully objected, telling me I was ‘selling dreams’,” Lexton said. “In that moment, I realized I needed to do more.”

Leaders Need This Skill To Ask The Right Questions

Empathy—that seven-letter word seems to be everywhere these days.

Youth Employment in Africa: Whose Job Is It?

Editor's Note: This article was written by Atul Singh, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fair Observer. This article first appeared on Fair Observer on June 27, 2014. The article discusses which players are responsible for addressing youth employment in Africa.


Youth in Africa: Pursuing Talents Informed by Market Dynamics

 Editor's Note: This article was written by Oluseun Onigbinde. Oluseun is the Co-Founder of BudgIT, a public data visualization startup that makes the Nigerian budget simpler and an Ashoka and Knight Innovation Fellow. This article first appeared on Fair Observer on August 6, 2014.

The Business of Nutrition: 'Nudging' Us Towards Healthy Living


When it comes to healthy living, changing age-old habits is not always easy. Today in Canada, one in four children is overweight or obese, and less than 7% of children are physically active each day.

Live #SafeRoads Twitter Chat on August 12


You know that India ranks first in the world for deaths caused by traffic accidents. You know that most of the deaths are pedestrians. And you know that UL and Ashoka have come together to surface the most innovative solutions that are making roads in India safer.

A Healthy Community Raises a Healthy Child


Without decisive action, today’s children could become the first generation of Canadians to have shorter life-spans than their parents. The growing twin epidemics of physical inactivity and unhealthy eating is placing the health of Canadian children at risk and threatens to be a massive driver of heart disease, stroke and soaring health costs in the future.

5 Empathetic Strategies To Inspire Climate Action Now

Lisa Bennett on why people avoid engaging in the fight against climate change--and how empathy can be tapped as a powerful solution. This article originally appeared on

Why A Toilet Alone Won't Do The Job: The 'Software' Of Sanitation Innovation

"The 2015 goal to halve the proportion of people living without sanitation is running 150 years behind schedule.”
—WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation 2010

International Youth Day Chat | How Can Youth Drive Innovation & Employment in Africa?

During the last decade, several African nations have seen record rates of growth placing them among the top growing economies in the world. Yet, this boom has not translated into an increase in jobs for the estimated 11 million youth who join the workforce each year. Fortunately, today’s generation of African youth is more educated, and more connected than ever before. Whilst solving the employment crisis requires collaboration involving many sectors, youth empowerment is also a key component.

Podcast: Food is Life

In the next 40 years, food production needs to go up by 70% if we are to be able to feed future populations. Lucas Simons, founder of SCOPEinsight has a solution to professionalise the agricultural landscape.

Choosing to be Active Means Choosing Success


Every child—regardless of physical condition—deserves the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential. This is the vision of Be Your Best (Choisir de Gagner).

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