Join International Women’s Day Twitter-based #SocEntSummit at #ChangemakeHERS, on March 6, 2012

Ashoka Changemakers will host its first World Day #SocEntSummit on Twitter, this International Women’s Day from 1 - 5 p.m. IST / 3:30 – 7:30 a.m. ESTTitled #ChangemakeHERS, this event celebrates womanhood with some of the most outstanding women social entrepreneurs from all over the world. Save the date and spread the word!

Finally! A Dose of Innovation for the Maintenance of Health

Editor's note: This post was written by Chloe Feinberg, knowledge consultant at Ashoka Changemakers®.

The idea of maintaining health is gaining ever more prominence and importance. Health maintenance is in some ways similar to health prevention, but is also quite different.

Preventive health is used to describe the many ways and opportunities to prevent the worsening of health or the development of disease. But what if a person is already sick? What about the individuals living with asthma, or who have high blood pressure?

ColaLife Tracks Change on Changeshop

Editor's note: This post was written by Andrea Boston, freelance writer for Ashoka Changemakers.

ColaLife, the project that ingeniously piggybacks preventative medicines on deliveries of Coca-Cola, is using its Changemakers changeshop to show how it is gaining traction after emerging as one three winners of the Making More Health: Achieving Individual, Family and Community Well-Being competition.

ColaLife’s latest changeshop impact report states that Honda’s Dream Factory selected founder Simon Berry as one of nine “Cultural Engineers” who are spearheading gamechanging initiatives. Honda even donated a vehicle worth $40,000 to help ColaLife kick off its trial run in Zambia.

The Missing Link Between Ideas and Investment — Help Build It!

Editor's note: This post was written by Tim Scheu, Ashoka Changemakers Senior Project Manager

In the coming months, you'll see a new suite of features on that focus on growth—growth of impact, growth of capacity, growth of network. At the core of these tools is something called the Growth Planner.

Here's the thinking: You want support for your work. Support comes from people who are inspired by your idea and understand where your organization is headed. Changemakers' Growth Planner produces information that supporters need to engage and invest. 

#innovatehealth Interview Series: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Hear Michelle Larkin (assistant vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation) talk about how the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation views health innovation, and how they would like to see the national debate around health, prevention and wellness develop:

Re-imagining Health Care for the 21st Century

Editor's note: This article was written by Mercedes Jones, expert commentator for the Innovations for Health: Solutions that Cross Borders competition.

The old way of framing health care focuses on illness, not people, resulting in highly specialized medical practitioners. The Ashoka Changemakers Innovations for Health: Solutions that Cross Borders competition is uncovering solutions that are based on two main principles: 1) focusing on people and their rights in the health system, and 2) the value of collaborative advocacy.

The Sun Also Helps You Hear

Editor's note: This article was written by Vanuza Ramos, contributing journalist for Ashoka Changemakers®.

A simple battery for a hearing aid costs four reais and lasts about seven days; the device itself costs 3,000 reais (about U.S. $1,750). It may seem a small price compared to the great impact these products have in the life of a deaf person, but in developing countries like Brazil, these costs ​​exclude millions of people who are hearing impaired. 

However, a major shift is underway: the social entrepreneur Howard Weinstein has developed a low-cost technology to produce solar-powered hearing aids, along with a manufacturing process that involves training and employing people with disabilities.

Save the Date! Join @Changemakers for a #SocEntChat about Empathy!

February 14th is a day the world beams with love – and what better way to capture that love, by cultivating empathy in ourselves and in our communities?

Join us, the 1440 Foundation, experts and innovators between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. EST on Valentine’s Day for a conversation about empathy: its power, its impact, and its future.  

This is your chance to share your thoughts, ideas, challenges, and perspectives—and to connect with innovators and thought-leaders!

Five Tips for Creating Learning Spaces that Lead to Change

When Vishal Talreja started Dream a Dream with friends in 1999, he was armed more with passion than experience in education or development. But after a transformative and boundary-shattering experience working with HIV-positive children in India’s shelter homes, Talreja felt the very real need to put his empathy into sustained action.

Q&A with James Waruiru, Community Health Activist

Changemakers is changing. Through the new Changeshops platform, we now offer improved ways to help build the world of social good. Changeshops users will be able to tell the online community what they need to grow their projects; search for collaborators, innovators, and competitions in the field; and access funding opportunities for world-changing ideas.

The Changeshops community is growing each day; to get a preview of what might be in store, Changemakers is catching up with a few of the platform’s top users.

Q&A with Idit Harel Caperton, Education Entrepreneur

Changemakers is changing. Through the new Changeshops platform, we now offer improved ways to help build the world of social good. Changeshops users will be able to tell the online community what they need to grow their projects; search for collaborators, innovators, and competitions in the field; and access funding opportunities for world-changing ideas.

The Changeshops community is growing each day; to get a preview of what might be in store, Changemakers is catching up with a few of the platform’s top users.

Our first interview is with Dr. Idit Harel Caperton, president and founder of the World Wide Workshop, the New York-based foundation that is powering ideas for global learning and leadership in the 21st century. Caperton’s Globaloria project is the world’s first and largest social learning network where students develop the digital citizenship skills the global economy demands. Globaloria helps both youth and educators learn to participate as leaders of change in the global knowledge economy.

Caperton sat down to talk with Changemakers about the organization’s early success with Changeshops.

Ben & Jerry’s Scoops Up New Ideas on

What happens when you blend Ben & Jerry’s environmentally-friendly business model with Ashoka Changemakers’ dynamic platform for innovation? You get an international competition sure to delight young entrepreneurs throughout Europe.

#innovatehealth Interview Series: Center for Health Market Innovations (CHMI)

As we continue to explore reverse innovation in health and health care, we talked with Donika Dimovska and Rose Reis at the Center for Health Market Innovations about their new report, Highlights: 2011. The report offers insights into market-based health programs, including:

  • Five health models emerging around the world during the past decade.
  • Six ways enterprises, NGOs, and others can mobilize private providers to deliver better care through franchising, high-volume specialty hospitals, and other commercial models.
  • Five approaches to expand access and give purchasing power to the poor, including government insurance programs, contracting with the private sector, and mHealth savings.
  • An analysis of how information technology can be effectively utilized in health care, presenting six key reasons why technology can improve access, quality, and efficiency.
  • Clear, quantifiable ways to report program performance in a simple and transparent way.
  • How to connect to CHMI hubs in 16 countries around the world.

Listen to this conversation about reverse innovation, and some of the highlights of this new report.

The solution to the latest bullying headlines? Forget legislation: It's time to Start Empathy.

Earlier this week, reports surfaced about an 11-year-old boy with autism, who was beaten up by a fellow student while waiting at the bus stop. The event was filmed on a student’s cell phone, as his peers egged on his attacker, and subsequently uploaded to Facebook. 

It later emerged that Kaleb Kula, the victim of the assault, had endured similar taunts beginning in the 1st grade, and his parents had repeatedly contacted the administration expressing their concern. 

On the surface, the school had followed procedure, obeying the letter of the law. Maryland’s Cecil County Public School District upholds a strict anti-bullying policy, and maintains an online form where parents, peers, teachers, and other witnesses are encouraged to report incidents of bullying. 

The form is in keeping with the Safe Schools Reporting Act of 2005, and a host of awareness-raising measures since, ranging from Bullying Awareness Week to enhanced legislation to high-profile media coverage.  The result has led to adramatic increase in the number of incidents reported throughout the state, reaching 3,800 incidents in 2009-2010: nearly double that from the previous year. 

Yet as Kaleb’s story shows, reporting incidents and dolling out reprimands only goes so far. Charging the student who attacked Kaleb with second-degree assault and laying blame on the district—which has called together parents to discuss bullying in wake of the incident—will not fix the problem. What’s needed is a concerted effort to address the issue at its root: equipping students with the ability to stand up when they see peers being mistreated and to avoid conflict in the first place. 

Early Entrants & Honorable Mentions come together on Google+ Hangout

The early entry winners and honorable mentions of the Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning competition were announced here a few weeks ago. Last week, these entrants came together for the first time to discuss the state of innovation in their communities, and the methods that they see are improving the lives of those around them.

The entrants came from across Canada, and by the end of the meeting they were conspiring to find ways to bring their programs together. 

Meet The Early Entry Winners of the Innovations for Health Competition

A few months ago, Ashoka Changemakers and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Pioneer Portfolio launched the 'Innovations for Health' competition. Today we are happy to announce the early entry winners:

Growing to the Next Level of Change


Editor's note: This post was written by Ashoka Changemakers chief executive partner Ben Wald.

I am excited to let you know that is about to get a new look.

Starting next week, the action opportunities for all who visit Changemakers are expanding from finding new innovations (through collaborative competitions, where Changemakers pioneered the open source method for recognizing and refining the best solutions to the world’s most critical issues) to connecting with a network that directs resources to the most promising solutions so they can grow.

Activate Empathy and Join the Movement to Teach What Matters

Empathy.  em·pa·thy [em-puh-thee] 

It’s a beautiful word, derived from the suffix -em (meaning “to make into, to put into, to get into”) and -pathy  (meaning “suffering”).

What I consider especially beautiful about this word is that, unlike “sympathy” (which translates literally to “with” + “suffering”), “empathy” is more internally focused, and action-oriented. It describes the transposition of the suffering, emotion, feeling, or experience of another person into oneself – and how it manifests itself through ones behavior toward others.

Here at Ashoka, we believe that empathy is central to our ability to imagine (and create) better communities, societies, organizations, companies, and institutions. We believe that empathy is a skill. We believe that empathy is a muscle we all have. And most importantly, we believe that, like all muscles, empathy is strengthened by use and exercise.   

To this end, Ashoka Changemakers is launching a global competition titled: Activating Empathy: Transforming Schools to Teach What Matters.

#innovatehealth Interview Series: Fast Forward Health

Changemakers caught up recently with two of the co-founders of the Fast Forward Health film festival: Andre Blackman and David Haddad. You can listen in on our conversation about innovations in health care and the film festival they launched in Washington D.C. this year:  

And if you're strapped for time, here's a quick overview of the conversation:

#SocEntChat on Innovations for Health: Solutions that Cross Borders

Do you have an opinion about what health care models might work in more than one country? Are you interested in what kinds of health care challenges are shared by communities around the world? Join Ashoka Changemakers on January 10, 2012, for an Asia #SocEntChat about Innovations for Health.

Join @changemakers from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Indian Standard Time (IST) — that's 3:30 to 5:30 a.m. EST  to participate in a Twitter-based discussion with innovators, social entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts about health care solutions that have the potential to be applied in other countries in order to improve health and health care. This is your chance to make your voice heard or to ask experts in the field your most burning questions.

Who Will Win the Duel? Building Full Information Citizenship

Editor's note: This post was written by Alison Craiglow Hockenberry, contributing editor at Ashoka Changemakers®.

It's a duel, quite possibly to the death. The bad guys: Censorship, surveillance, sabotage, fraud. The good guys: Freedom, access to information, quality of information, privacy, and security. The venue: the Internet. The stakes: Couldn't be higher.

Fighting for the bad guys: tyrants, police states, oligarchs, and quite a few unknowns. Fighting for the good guys: innumerable innovators, optimists, activists, and visionaries around the world who are creating the technologies and tools to build a world where everyone has access to the information they need to be effective, change-making citizens.

Year In Review: Making Change in 2011

2011 was a big year for Ashoka Changemakers. Take a quick look at the milestones that amped up the momentum for Changemakers and our community

Early Entry Winners Announced in Inspiring Approaches Competition

We've received an outstanding response for Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Métis and Inuit Learning! Remember that you can share your idea or project until January 27, 2012.

Today we are excited to announce and congratulate our Early Entry Award Winners (follow the links to read their entries):

What Happens When HeroRATs Head Home?

If you’ve been around these parts, you’re familiar with APOPO’s HeroRATs — the carefully trained, classically conditioned rodents that are bringing peace and security to countries with landmine legacies. HeroRATs founder Bart Weetjens and his talented critters have recently been featured at events like the 2011 Ashoka Globalizer and Skoll World Forum, heard over airwaves worldwide, and even captured on film in the field.

APOPO has successfully cleared more than 2,000 landmines and unexploded ordnances from land along the Thai-Cambodian border and in Mozambique. But what becomes of the reclaimed land after the HeroRATs head home?

Q&A: An Interview With Ben Wald

On January 14, leading innovators in social and business entrepreneurship, technology, academia, and entertainment will meet at Pixar Animation Studios to discuss powerful and effective ways to address the most critical social and economic challenges of our time. They include Google vice president Marissa Mayer; Steve Case, founder of AOL and The Case Foundation; and Tim Brown, IDEO CEO, as well as Ashoka president Diana Wells and Ashoka Changemakers chief executive partner Ben Wald.

The event, dubbed “The Intersection,” will be a mash-up of 14 “innovation masterminds” from the business and social sectors exploring leading trends and ideas in personal creativity, team and organizational innovation, and social impact.

Wald recently talked with Changemakers about what he expects from the event—and what he is excited about.

Chatting with Social Innovators: Winners of the Making More Health Competition

Earlier this month, we announced the winners of the Making More Health competition, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim:

While we learned a great deal from (and about) these incredible innovators through the competition, we wanted to learn more. And what better way to learn, than to speak directly with the brains of the operations themselves?

Changemakers brought together the three winners of this competition on Google+ Hangout to hear more about their work, and to give them an opportunity to connect with each other. These teams have been doing incredible work -- take a listen:

The New Farm Bill: An Opportunity to Create a Sustainable Agricultural System

Change could be on the horizon for agriculture and food in the United States. The controversial 2012 Farm Bill, which failed to pass in November, is back on the table and due for a rewrite. (For a recap of the original “Secret Farm Bill” and how it failed, read this).

The new Farm Bill could be a tremendous opportunity to finally introduce both incremental and systems-level innovation in the way we eat and grow our food.

It’s important to note that the Farm Bill affects more than just farmers—it impacts everyone who, well, eats.

Saúde Criança: A Program for Health and Social Inclusion

Editor's note: This post was written by Vanuza Ramos, a Brazilian journalist and collaborator with Ashoka Changemakers.

In 1991, Dr. Vera Cordeiro realized that the real cause of most pediatric visits to a public hospital in Rio de Janeiro wasn’t illness or accident: it was the children’s living conditions.

“When the patient is discharged, they normally return to their homes, to a social context of vulnerability where they lack conditions to continue treatment,” Cordeiro said. “This makes the condition worsen and the patient must return to the hospital, which is yet another problem for a family already weakened by adverse economic and social realities.”  

With other professionals from the Lagoa Hospital technical staff, Dr. Cordeiro set out to break the cycle of hospitalization, discharge, and readmission by transforming the lives of the children and their families. They founded the Saúde Criança Association (ASC) to promote the physical, mental, and social health of children who were patients that were recently released to their families living below the poverty line. 

Photo of the Day: Dec. 16, 2011

Two female "enviropreneurs" unload crate of saplings from a pickup truck in Nicaragua'ss La Flor Wildlife Refuge. These environmental stewards work with Paso Pacifico's Environmental Learning, Leadership, Adventure, and Stewardship Initiative (ELLAS), and are hoping to avert (and reverse) large-scale environmental destruction in the coastal and marine protected area.

Gift Social Entrepreneurship This Holiday Season

The holidays is the perfect time to join Ashoka in supporting remarkable social entrepreneurs who are changing the world one idea at a time.

Support outstanding people and their ideas by giving a gift that gives back, entrepreneurial style. From our editors, some ideas:

* Give insight. In 2011 alone, several books by Ashoka Fellows and staff have been published. Here are just a couple:

#InnovateHealth: Talking Health Innovation on Twitter

On Monday, we hosted a Twitter-based discussion about health care solutions that have the potential to be applied in communities around the world. In case you missed it, find a neat wrap up of the #SocEntChat after the jump.

Visionary Entrepreneur Sets Sight on Eliminating Preventable Blindness

Nearly 40 million people worldwide are needlessly blind and another 240 million have low vision. Virtually all of the world’s 285 million visually-impaired persons live in developing countries, suffering from uncorrected refractive errors and cataracts.

But Unite For Sight, a social enterprise headquartered in New Haven, Connecticut, is empowering communities worldwide to improve eye health and eliminate preventable blindness. The organization guarantees eye treatment—whether it’s medication, a $150 sight-restoring surgery or even a first pair of glasses—for patients living in poverty in Ghana, India, and Honduras, as well as the United States and Canada.

More than 1.3 million people worldwide have overcome barriers to eye care through Unite For Sight services, whether they can afford to pay or not—the bill is always covered by the nonprofit.

Coke adds life? Yes.

Editor's note: This post was written by Alison Craiglow Hockenberry, contributing editor at Ashoka Changemakers®.

As advertising slogans go, “Coke adds life” is among the most potent and memorable. Simon Berry wants to make it also true.

The visionary behind ColaLife, Berry uses Coca-Cola’s unparalleled distribution channels to deliver preventive medicines to the most remote places on the planet and save lives.

Photo of the Day: Dec. 9, 2011

Riders for Health courier, Piero Sakala (center), delivers blood samples sourced from rural health centers to a medical lab in Zambia's Chadiza district. After testing, the results are transported back to clinics along the country's southeastern border, enabling medical staff to more effectively diagnose diseases (including HIV and tuberculosis) and treat patients.

Making More Health for More People — and Making it Look Easy

Editor's note: This post was written by Alison Craiglow Hockenberry, contributing editor at Ashoka Changemakers®, and originally featured on the Huffington Post.

If you ask Vera Cordeiro, good health is within reach for everyone, even the poorest of the poor. But this requires radical rethinking of what health care is.

Health is not merely the absence of illness. If a patient is released from a hospital into a situation that includes stress, poor nutrition, inadequate shelter and sanitation, he or she is likely to get sick again and again, putting pressure on the family's meager resources, deepening the poverty and increasing the suffering.

"I saw this vicious cycle: hospitalization, rehospitalization, many times," said Cordeiro of her early years as a pediatrician. "And I knew we needed to do something."

Have a Slavery-free Holiday: Buy Ethical Chocolate


This isn’t intended to ruin your holiday cheer, but it definitely caused me to think twice before buying big-brand chocolate for an upcoming holiday fête: Much of mainstream chocolate contains cocoa produced by child slaves.

Winners of Making More Health Competition Announced!

The Changemakers global community has chosen the winners of the Making More Health competition, part of a three-year global initiative led by Ashoka Changemakers and Boehringer Ingelheim to identify and support innovations from around the world that transform the field of health to sustainably increase individual, family, and community well-being.

The public voted to select three top health solutions from a field of finalists. The finalists were chosen by a panel of expert judges out of more than 470 entries received from 82 countries.

The winning solutions are:

Three Tips for Social Entrepreneurs: Balancing Work with the Holidays


Editor's note: This post was written by Kate Petty, writer and editor at Ashoka Changemakers.

There’s nothing like the holiday season: Attending parties with friends, spending quality time with extended family, preparing 500 personalized letters to ask your donor list to make a year-end pledge to your social venture…

If that last item didn’t seem out of place to you, keep reading. For too many social entrepreneurs, the holidays are just another time of the year when you work hard for a great idea to save the world.

But taking time to vacation, spend time with family, and generally unplug is vital. Just ask the Mayo Clinic, which cautions on its web site against working long, stressful hours without a break: “When you’re tired, your ability to work productively and think clearly may suffer — which could take a toll on your professional reputation or lead to dangerous or costly mistakes.” 

Save the Date: December 12


Early Entry Deadline & #SocEntChat about Innovations for Health: Solutions that Cross Borders

Do you have an opinion about what health care models might work in more than one country? Are you interested in what kinds of health care challenges are shared by communities around the world? Join Ashoka Changemakers on December 12, 2011, for a global #SocEntChat about Innovations for Health.

Join @changemakers from 2 to 4 p.m. EST to participate in a Twitter-based discussion with innovators, social entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts about health care solutions that have the potential to be applied in other countries in order to improve health and health care. This is your chance to make your voice heard or to ask experts in the field your most burning questions.

December 12 is also the Early Entry Deadline for Innovations for Health! Enter by 5 p.m. EST and you could win one of two US $500 cash prizes, plus the unique opportunity for a private consulting session with industry experts. The sooner you enter, the more likely your entry will gain visibility from this community of experts, enthusiasts, media partners, and investors. Submitting your solution early allows you to interact with other innovators, answer questions, and improve your odds of winning.

Visit the competition page to enter or nominate a solution today!

Photo of the Day: Dec. 2, 2011

A citizen journalist interviews a woman for a story in Chhattisgarh, a primarily rural state in Central India. Photo courtesy of CGNet Swara: Voice Portal For Community Media In India.

An Army of Giant Rats Unearths Peace in Africa


It takes a true visionary to see a Buddhist monk deploying a pack of giant rats as the solution to the devastating danger posed by landmines.

Every few hours, another person is killed or maimed by a landmine. Even in areas removed from active conflict, landmines are more than just distressing reminders of former bloodshed — they’re hidden hazards that terrorize populations and freeze development.

Identifying, unearthing, and disarming these explosives is dangerous and daunting. Despite record clearances, more countries deployed anti-personnel mines last year than in any year since 2004.


"Everywhere I went to apply for funding, we were just laughed at. Institutions were actually very reluctant toward such an approach.
The reason (for my perseverance) why was clear, obvious. 

I dreamt of a better world . . ."

Helping Refugees Heal: Pathways to Wellness


While working as a social worker at a refugee resettlement agency, Beth Farmer saw that mental health support was a major gap in the services accessible to refugees.

“When you’re driving a client to a job interview, and they’re crying and telling you that they lived in the woods for three years, sucking water from mud, and that their newborn baby and wife were killed in front of their eyes — of course, you start to think that this person needs some extra support,” she said (in an understatement).

Even after fleeing unimaginable circumstances like terror, murder, rape, or torture, refugees face extraordinary challenges. There are about 15.4 million refugees worldwide (not including 27.5 million internally displaced people); and less than 1 percent eventually qualify for resettlement with the UN after a rigorous application process.

Refugees who do make it to the United States are immediately under pressure to quickly gain economic self-sufficiency.

Holiday Shopping for Good: Spend Cash. Make Change.

Discover the best online destinations for wide smiles and big impact with our holiday shopping and feasting guide, compiled by our editors just in time for Cyber Monday.

Nov. 28: Join Innovators from Around the Globe for a Multilingual #SocEntChat About Making More Health

On November 28, 2011, Ashoka Changemakers® will host a multilingual #SocEntChat about Making More Health through innovations that are sustainably increasing the health of people around the world. Join @changemakers from 3 to 5 p.m. EST to participate in a Twitter-based discussion with innovators, social entrepreneurs, and enthusiasts on the next generation of health solutions. This chat will be multilingual, with simultaneous facilitation in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.

Want to brush up on the latest innovative health models ahead of time? Check out the finalists of the Making More Health competition. Then join the #SocEntChat to share your thoughts and ask leading innovators your most burning questions!

11 Ideas Changing the Way We Communicate

There is only one day left to vote for your favorite innovators in citizen media. We've made it as easy as pie (pumpkin pie!) to learn more about the 11 finalists — Storify lays out a quick description and a one-minute video about each media solution.

Wal-MartCare – Could it Work?

Should we be celebrating the fact that Wal-Mart is considering joining the health care industry? The retail giant made big news last week when NPR learned that it was seeking partnerships with health firms for a major expansion of its in-store medical clinics. According to Wal-Mart’s request, the retail giant wants to “dramatically: 1) lower the cost of health care while maintaining or improving outcomes, and 2) expand access to high-quality health services by becoming the largest provider of primary health care services in the nation.”

Most of the commenters that weighed in for NPR’s article expressed doubts. Ann O’Malley, physician and senior health researcher at the Center for Studying Health System Change, said:

"Maybe Wal-Mart can deliver a lot of this stuff more cheaply because it is an expert at doing this with other types of widgets, but health care is not a widget and managing individual human beings is not nearly as simple as selling commercial products to consumers.”

I admit, my first reaction to the news was also skepticism. Wal-Mart’s abysmal reputation for “rolling back” employee health benefits doesn’t seem to make it a frontrunner for becoming the savior for America’s worsening health care crisis.

Making More Health


Editor's note: This post was written by Alison Craiglow Hockenberry, contributing editor at Ashoka Changemakers®, and originally featured on the Huffington Post.

When you're sick, you see the doctor. When you get a medical test it goes to the lab. When you need medicine, you go to the pharmacy. Or not.

In many places in both the developing and developed world, these basic healthcare steps --  getting from point A to point B -- often don't work. And all the healthcare overhaul in the world is not going to matter much if patients can't connect with the services and products they need to stay healthy.

"We have developed the most miraculous tools for dealing with the health of humankind," according to Nils Daulaire, director of the Office of Global Health Affairs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. "But the best tools in the world don't make a bit of difference if they don't get out to where they're needed."

Fortunately, some of the most innovative ideas now emerging are tackling these very basic problems. In southern Africa, for example, Riders for Health is addressing what it calls "the tyranny of distance," by putting healthcare workers -- more than 300 of them -- on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles in seven countries so they can navigate Africa's remote and rugged roads, travel further, reach more isolated villages, and spend longer with their communities. Riders for Health also ensures timely delivery of diagnostic samples and test results for patients with HIV, TB, and other diseases that require close monitoring and treatment.

Understanding the Meaning of Aboriginal Literacy

Victoria Grant, a member of the Ashoka Team and the Changemakers Initiative “Inspiring Approaches to First Nations, Metis and Inuit Learning,” attended the Aboriginal Literacy Symposium in Winnipeg on November 1 and 2 at the invitation of Bruce Lawson, Executive Director of The Counseling Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Education and Research Institute for Counseling. She found it an amazing opportunity to meet, interact with, and learn and share with people engaged with Aboriginal literacy.

Ovide Mercredi, a former national chief and the opening speaker at the Aboriginal Literacy Symposium, challenged his audience with this question: What does Aboriginal literacy mean? He spoke deliberately, and his thoughts, which were well organized and researched, were the perfect introduction for the symposium that followed.

Questions that I kept in mind were: Is literacy about understanding what binds us together? Is literacy about participating fully as a good human being with the potential to take care of one’s own needs? Is literacy about the individual spirit to achieve? Is Aboriginal literacy about all of the above, as well as being proficient in one’s own language?

Calling All Social Innovators: McKinsey is Looking for Inspiration

UPDATE: The deadline for video submissions has been extended to midnight on November 20.

What inspires you? If it’s a unique social innovation with a big impact, McKinsey wants you to share it.

McKinsey is asking you to submit one-minute videos before November 18 of your favorite innovations, for a collection of video shorts that showcase solutions to pressing social issues, from new models for water and sanitation, to health and community well-being.

Videos submissions may also highlight what drives your social good organization.

A selection committee will choose ten finalists, to be voted on by McKinsey’s global community beginning on November 23. Winners will be announced on December 5.

The best videos will be showcased on the McKinsey website; the video producers will be honored with exclusive interviews in McKinsey on Society, featured prominently on The Huffington Post, and will be invited to a networking reception in New York City in early 2012.

Shoot your short video quickly! The project entry deadline is in ten days.

Nation’s Most Innovative STEM Solutions Honored in “Partnering for Excellence” Competition

Eight winners have been selected from the Partnering for Excellence: Innovations in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Education competition, a search for the most innovative ways to inspire STEM-rich learning in our nation’s classrooms (particularly in high-need communities) by connecting students with STEM professionals.

The competition was hosted by Ashoka Changemakers, with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Opportunity Equation. Winners were selected by a combination of open voting on the website, the recommendations of competition partners, and a rigorous assessment by a distinguished panel of judges including Dr. Bruce Alberts, Tim Brown, Michele Cahill, Caroline Kennedy, Dr. Ioannis Miaoulis, and Dr. Robert Moses.

Let’s meet the winners!

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