Ashoka Changemakers and Packard Foundation Launch an Online Competition

Kristie Wang's picture

Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change

New online competition will award $500,000 in prizes to initiatives that activate empathy in order to strengthen communities in five California counties

"Empathy-based ethics are the essential foundation for 21st century changemaking," says Bill Drayton, the CEO and founder of Ashoka. "If we had to name a single, overarching success factor among our global network of social entrepreneurs, it would be the ability to put empathy into action."

Ashoka’s Start Empathy initiative has been working with schools across the country to help children begin mastering this crucial changemaking skill. Now, Ashoka Changemakers and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation are launching an online competition to award support to organizations that cultivate empathy skills in order to strengthen communities and equip young people to become future leaders of change.  

The Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change competition will award four prizes of $100,000 each, and up to two $50,000 Idea Prizes, to early stage initiatives. Winning solutions will be showcased at the Packard Foundation's 50th Anniversary celebration event.

In recognition of Packard founders David and Lucile Packard’s long history of giving back to their local community, and the Packard Foundation’s 50th anniversary, the competition will focus its search on initiatives that create impact within one or more of these five California counties: San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Monterey.  The deadline to enter is July 10, 2014, 5 p.m. PDT.

Why is putting empathy into action such a powerful skill? “Empathy is more than just sympathy: it is the ability to understand the feelings and perspectives of others, and thereby to ensure that we are helpful, not hurtful, as our actions affect ourselves, our communities, and the environment,” according to a joint statement by Drayton and Carol S. Larson, president and CEO of the Packard Foundation. “Successful collaboration, leadership, and innovation all depend on empathy-based ethics.”

Because empathy is the lifeblood of thriving communities that are capable of solving 21st century problems, the Building Vibrant Communities competition seeks initiatives that:

  • Develop empathy skills in order to foster caring communities that give back;
  • Cultivate empathy education to create safer, stronger communities;
  • Help young people reach their full potential by activating empathy; and
  • Empower young people with empathy and other 21st century changemaking skills to enable them to confront community issues and grow as leaders.

Are you activating empathy to nourish stronger, more vibrant communities and future changemakers? Does your initiative create impact, or plan to create impact, within the five California counties? Then enter the Building Vibrant Communities competition today and help us spread the word!

Visit for full information about the competition, and news and insights from thought leaders about the power of empathy in action. And tell @changemakers on Twitter how you are #ActivatingEmpathy in your part of the world!

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