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Join us on March 20, 2012 for Ashoka Changemakers' Asia #SocEntChat about Activating Empathy!

Save the date! Ashoka Changemakers® will host a #SocEntChat for Asian audiences on Activating Empathy – Transforming Schools to Teach What Matters on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. IST (@ Indian Standard Time)  / 4:30 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. EST.

Get to know the Activating Empathy Early Entry Award Winners

Ashoka’s New Year’s resolution for 2012 was more ambitious than most. We’re not cutting back on the caffeine, eating healthier, or exercising more frequently. But we resolved to make 2012 the year to jumpstart a worldwide movement for empathy, made official with the launch of the global Activating Empathy: Transforming Schools To Teach What Matters competition.

Three months later, we are seeing this resolution become a reality. Teachers, parents, students, and innovators have joined this effort to ensure that all children master empathy, a critical skill in today’s rapidly changing world. The competition has attracted more than 160 entries and nearly 400 nominations for ideas that create better communities, societies, organizations, companies, and institutions.

There is still time to get involved; the deadline for solutions isn’t until 5:00 p.m. (ET) on March 30. More than $110,000 in cash and in-kind prizes are still available to entrants!

In the meantime, we have decided to recognize a handful of our favorite solutions to date: the Activating Empathy Early Entry Award Winners:

The Big Picture of Women’s Empowerment Worldwide

 

Today is International Women’s Day, a global celebration of women’s equality, contributions, and achievements. In honor of this century-old tribute, we asked some of Changemakers’ most exciting women’s-centered initiatives to submit a single image that captures the power of their work.
 
Each organization presented photographs showcasing women using the one tool or service that has helped them create economic and social freedom within their communities. The following images document change in action, and tell the story of women’s empowerment worldwide.
 
Click on an image below to learn the story behind the female entrepreneur (and to find out what object they couldn't work without):
 

Enter the We Media PitchIt! Challenge for a shot at $25k

What is an idea worth? Pennies on the dollars? Less?

Try $25,000. According to Andrew Nachison and Dale Peskin, co-founders of the digital creation agency We Media, the right idea is worth that much—but only if it’s submitted by March 13.

#SocEntSummit titled #ChangemakeHERS: a new Twitter forum for women social entrepreneurs

ChangemakeHER Banner

As a curtain raiser to International Women’s Day on March 08, 2012, Ashoka Changemakers is hosting a ­­­­Twitter-based #SocEntSummit titled #ChangemakeHERS, on March 06, 2012 between 12 noon to 12 midnight IST /1:30am to 1:30pm EST. Save the date and spread the word! Hope to see you there.

Ashoka Changemakers will celebrate International Women’s Day 2012 a bit differently this year with the launch of #SocEntSummit on Twitter, the first event of its kind. This Twitter-based event—recognized, tracked and followed with the hashtag #ChangemakeHERS—will celebrate womanhood by cheering some of the most outstanding women social entrepreneurs from all over the world. The #SocEntSummit will also kick-off Changemakers’ second annual HERS Campaign, which will be hosted in a richer, more interactive content space that will be introduced end of this month on Changemakers.com.

Could Lady Gaga be the most popular spokesperson for the empathy movement?

Editor's note: This post was written by Ashoka Changemakers' Abby Chroman.

Who has a voice loud enough to amplify the message of a movement, a brand strong enough to enlist millions of participants, and the defiant will to try? Could be Lady Gaga.

Q&A with Darren Bunton, Human Rights Activist

By now you’ve definitely spotted it: Changemakers is changing. One of the most visible developments is changeshops, an improved way to help build the world of social good. Changeshops is still a very young network, but we’re already seeing signs of its potential. As the community grows, we’re asking a few top users to share the exciting projects popping up.

Today Darren Bunton, executive director and chairman of Eway Foundation, talks about growing the foundation’s Ethical Citizen Media project, the difference between Facebook and Twitter and changeshops, and keeping in touch with innovators all over the world.

#innovatehealth Interview Series: Richard Bartlett on the Gold Standard for Health Innovation

If you had to guess, what country would you say is the world leader in health innovation? According to Richard Bartlett, it’s India — thanks to a flexible regulatory environment, a government that is open to partnerships, and a dramatic need for low-cost health care options.

As he shares in this #innovatehealth interview, Rwanda and Kenya are also at the top of his list:

The Internet: a new paradigm in the right to communicate

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

Almost a month after the violent eviction of thousands of poor residents from their homes in a settlement in Brazil, an event popularly known as the “massacre of Pinheirinho,” many net-izens continue to discuss the repercussions of this controversial and symbolic event. Social networks, blogs, and other independent media are reporting cases of violence and abuse that are often obscured by the mainstream media, signifying a pivotal change in communications created by virtual media.

The fact that the Internet has established itself as a powerful force for ensuring the right of communication is nothing new. What was not anticipated is that it would be used in an entrepreneurial way to disseminate knowledge, information and to protect fundamental rights to life—by using it socially. 

Q&A with Jacquie Cutts, Maternal and Child Health Champion

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.

Today, Changemakers talked (change)shop with Jacquie Cutts, the founder, president, and CEO of Safe Mothers, Safe Babies, a nonprofit organization working to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality in Uganda.

Cutts has been a long-time supporter of participatory development and has worked to help rural communities understand maternal and child health from the local perspective, in addition to supporting more innovative health care initiatives like motorcycle ambulance programs which reduce barriers to accessing care.

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 Changemakers.com 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 Changemakers.com

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 Changemakers.com 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


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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


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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


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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.

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