Healthy Mothers, Strong World: The Next Generation of Ideas for Maternal Health

Healthy Mothers, Strong World

The Next Generation of Ideas for Maternal Health

Competition Information

Competition News

Strong mothers enable children, families, communities and economies to grow and thrive.  And we have the power to end preventable maternal death and disability in our lifetime.    Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force are partnering to transform the maternal health field.

Voting Begins April 28.

Strong mothers enable children, families, communities and economies to grow and thrive. And we have the power to end preventable maternal death and disability in our lifetime. Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force are partnering to transform the maternal health field.

Winners Announced! Each of the three winning organizations has won in-kind prizes worth up to $5,000 to allow them to attend a Change Summit at the Global Maternal Health Conference 2010 in New Delhi in August.

Young Champions: Changemakers has also identified 15 young leaders from around the world, Young Champions of Maternal Health, to develop their innovative ideas during nine-month mentorships abroad with seasoned Ashoka Fellows working in the field of maternal health. Click here to read more.

Maternal Health Blog Contest Winner: Lorraine Thompson, whose blog post, Can We Talk: How Dialouge-Based Education Can Save Lives. Lorraine will be invited to be the Changemakers live correspondent/blogger at the Change Summit.

Thank you to all the entrants, judges, partners and community members who helped us in the search and selection of the best maternal health innovations.

Welcome Letter

Strong mothers enable children, families, communities and economies to grow and thrive. Yet there are over 500,000 maternal deaths every year, and millions more suffer from preventable disabilities. The causes of these tragedies are many, but most causes are rooted in the unequal social and economic status of women.

Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force are partnering to create an innovative new program that transforms the field of maternal health globally. The Young Champions of Maternal Health Program will use the Changemakers online platform to identify 15 young leaders – called Young Champions – from around the world that will spend nine months working abroad on a maternal health project while being mentored by a seasoned Ashoka Fellow in the field of maternal health. Additionally, maternal health organizations can enter to win one of three $5,000 in-kind Changemakers prizes.

We invite you, our Changemakers community, to create the next generation of ideas for maternal health. Submit your ideas to strengthen maternal health care systems and provide access to the services and resources that mothers deserve.

Maternal health is gaining prominence on the global development agenda, but we need a new cadre of young professionals to sustain the momentum, finish the work, and end the cycle of maternal death and disability. We can do it in our lifetime.

Everyone has a mother. Everyone is a changemaker. Join us and change the world so that all women can give life.

Young Champions Guidelines and Criteria

Young Champions Eligibility Criteria

Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force will select 15 individual Young Champions of Maternal Health. Based on their winning submissions, these Young Champions will receive the unique opportunity to work abroad for nine-months on a maternal health project, mentored by an Ashoka Fellow innovating in the field of maternal health. In addition to this professional development opportunity, Young Champions will have access to maternal health experts through the Maternal Health Task Force and resources to further develop their ideas and projects. All Young Champions will receive a monthly stipend and 100% financial support for travel, accommodation, insurance, and visa costs. Ideas and projects emerging from the Young Champions Program will be publicized widely.

Criteria for the selection of Young Champions includes:

  1. Successful completion of at least a B.A. (or equivalent degree) and clearly articulated plans for continued studies or professional development.
  2. Each candidate will have a track record of involvement in public health, as indicated by professional and/or academic experiences. They will also have demonstrated commitment to dedicating their careers to the improvement of maternal health, especially in developing countries.
  3. Candidates should have demonstrated leadership qualities and potential as evidenced by community and organizational activities reflected within the application.
  4. Candidates should be willing, able and enthusiastic to participate in a 9-month mentorship experience with an Ashoka Fellow (who may live in a country that is of a different cultural context).
  5. If the applicant is currently in school or is not self-employed, in view of the time that will be spent away from school or work required by participation in the program, the applicant must have the approval of his/her university or employer in writing. Self-employed applicants should make a serious effort to assess the impact of absence from his/her enterprise for the necessary amount of time.
  6. All Young Champions will be required to deliver a product of the mentorship carried out during their tenure with the Young Champions program (e.g., a research project, data analyses, program designs and evaluations, advocacy strategies, policy analyses, etc.) and consent that their mentorship may be showcased by the Maternal Health Task Force and Ashoka in grant reporting and promotional materials.
  7. Candidates must pass Ashoka's criteria for social entrepreneurs, namely:
    The Knockout Test: A New Idea
    Ashoka cannot elect someone to the mentorship unless he or she is possessed by a new idea-a new solution or approach to a social problem-that will change the pattern in the maternal health field. We evaluate the idea historically and against its contemporaries in the field, looking for innovation and real change potential.
    Creativity
    Successful Young Champions must be creative both as goal-setting visionaries and as problem solvers capable of engineering their visions into reality. Creativity is not a quality that suddenly appears-it is almost always apparent from youth onward. Among the questions we might ask: Does this individual have a vision of how he or she can meet some human need better than it has been met before? Does the candidate have a history of creating other new visions?
    Entrepreneurial Quality
    Perhaps our most important criterion, entrepreneurial quality is the defining characteristic of first class entrepreneurs. It defines leaders who see opportunities for change and innovation and devote themselves entirely to making that change happen. These leaders often have little interest in anything beyond their mission, and they are willing to spend the next ten to fifteen years making a historical development take place. In addition to showing a deep commitment to their idea, Young Champion candidates must be able to show how their idea will be financially sustainable. These two components of entrepreneurship are critical to transforming a new idea into a reality.
    Social Impact of the Idea
    This criterion focuses on the candidate's idea, not the candidate. Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force are only interested in ideas that we believe will change the field significantly and that will trigger nationwide impact or, for smaller countries, broader regional change. For example, we will not support the launch of a new school or clinic unless it is part of a broader strategy to reform the education or health system at the national level and beyond.
    Ethical Fiber
    Young Champions introducing major structural changes to society have to ask a lot of people to change how they do things. If the Young Champion is not trusted, the likelihood of success is significantly reduced. Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force ask every participant in the selection process to evaluate candidates for these qualities rigorously. To do so often requires one to resort to instinct and gut feelings, not just rational analysis. The essential question is: "Do you trust this person absolutely?" If there is any doubt, a candidate will not pass.

  8. All Young Champions must complete their mentorship by May 2011.
  9. Ashoka and the Maternal Health Task Force reserve the right to remove participants from the program if they do not adhere to program guidelines and standards.
  10. Candidates for the Young Champion program must be between 18-35, be proficient in English (fluency in written and spoken English), and must agree to:
    • Be interviewed by Ashoka's staff between March and April 2010. Interviews will be conducted by phone and in-person where possible.
    • Be matched with an Ashoka Fellow for at least 9 months
    • Participate in all program activities
    • State any special personal needs (i.e. dietary, disability, etc) to Ashoka by the start of the program.

Program Timeline

Competition Launch: December 16, 2009
Winners Announced: June 2010
Change Summit: August 30 - September 1, 2010
Young Champions Program Begins: September 2010
Young Champions Program Ends: May 2011

Early Entry Prize

Early entries, received by January 27th, will be eligible to win a digital camera. Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status—all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.

Participation in the competition provides the opportunity to receive feedback on your solution from fellow entrants, Changemakers staff, judges, and the Changemakers community. Showcasing your solution and the challenges involved in creating social impact advises potential investors about how best to improve funding/investing patterns for the sector and to maximize the strategic impact and effectiveness of their future investments.

Changemakers Prize Winners Guidelines and Criteria

Eligibility Criteria

The competition is open to all types of organizations (citizen sector or charitable organizations, private companies, or public entities) from all countries. We consider all entries that:

  • Reflect the theme of the competition: "Healthy Mothers, Strong World: The Next Generation of New Ideas for Maternal Health."
  • Demonstrate system-changing and paradigm-shifting solutions that improve maternal health, especially in resource-poor settings.
  • Indicate growth beyond the stage of idea, concept, or research. At a minimum, entries should be at the demonstration stage and indicate success. While we support new ideas at every stage and encourage their entry, the judges are only able to evaluate programs that are beyond the conceptual stage, and have demonstrated a proof of impact, even at small scale.
  • Are submitted in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Arabic.

Please complete the entire entry form and submit before the deadline.

Assessment Criteria

The following criteria are not required but the winners of this Changemakers competition will be those entries that best address:
Innovation: This is the knock-out test. The entrant must describe a systematic and/or disruptive innovation in the field of maternal health. The innovation should be a unique model of change, demonstrating a substantial difference from other initiatives in the field with the possibility for large-scale expansion. The solutions we seek include but are not limited to:

  • adapting transportation systems so that expectant mothers can get access to skilled care in childbirth;
  • applying new information technology so that mothers in need can be connected to the services they deserve;
  • rolling out the drugs and diagnostics that women need to deliver and care for their babies safely and healthily;
  • strengthening health care systems to provide comprehensive reproductive health services;
  • providing discrete services to pregnant women and new mothers in the workplace;
  • ensuring that all new and expecting mothers have the nutrition, water, and sanitation they need to keep themselves and their babies healthy;
  • convincing religious and political leaders that the health of their communities' mothers is critical to the health of their communities; and
  • creating economic incentives for business leaders to improve the health of the mothers in their marketplaces.

Social Impact: It is important that the innovative idea provides a system-changing solution that can be tested locally and has the potential to expand and improve the field of maternal health worldwide. Some solutions will have proven success at a small level, while others will have benefited thousands of women. Regardless of the level of demonstrated impact, it is important that the solution have a potential for application globally. This will be judged by considering the solution's potential for scale and replication, in addition to the entrant's ability to formulate a clear "road map" to reaching larger goals.

Sustainability: For a solution to be truly effective it helps to have a long-term plan for securing financial backing and community support. Entries should describe not only how they are currently financing their work, but also how they plan to finance their work in the future. The most successful entrants go beyond discussing whether or not they will charge for services and describe a business plan. It helps to demonstrate that they have strong partnerships and support networks to address an ongoing need, and to aid in scalability and the maintenance of a clear financial strategy.

Competition Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules

Online competition submissions are accepted until March 17, 2010 at 5PM U.S. EST. At any time before this deadline, competition participants are encouraged to revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive in the Changemakers online discussion. Participation in the discussion enhances an entrant's prospects in the competition and provides the community and the judges an opportunity to understand the entrant's project more completely.

There are four main phases in the competition:

  • Entry Stage, December 16-March 17, 2010: Entries can be submitted until 5PM US EST on March 3, 2010, and throughout this stage anyone can participate in an online review discussion with the entrants.
  • Online Review and Judging, March 18-April 27, 2010: Online review and discussion continues. Simultaneously, a panel of judges who are experts in the field and a team of Ashoka staff select the competition finalists.
  • Voting, April 28-May 12, 2010: The Changemakers community votes online to select the three award-winners from the field of finalists.
  • Winners Announced, June 2010: The three finalist organizations that receive the most votes will be brought to a Change Summit to discuss and elaborate their ideas, receive training, and get feedback, critiques, and advice from maternal health experts on how to develop their programs.

Early Entry Prize

Early entries, received by January 27th, will be eligible to win a digital camera. Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status-all entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.

Participation in the competition provides the opportunity to receive feedback on your solution from fellow entrants, Changemakers staff, judges, and the Changemakers community. Showcasing your solution and the challenges involved in creating social impact advises potential investors about how best to improve funding/investing patterns for the sector and to maximize the strategic impact and effectiveness of their future investments.

Disclaimer - Compliance with Legal Restrictions

Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. All grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.

Judges Panel

Aly Kassam-Remtulla

Associate Director for Academic and Administrative Planning , Princeton University

Ana Langer

President, EngenderHealth

Dr. France Donnay

Senior Program Officer for Maternal Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Robert Corcoran

President, GE Foundation, General Electric Company

Ruchira Gupta

President, Apne Aap Women Worldwide