CHICAGO, Aug. 13, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Philanthropists and entrepreneurs Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, along with Chicago Ideas Week (CIW), are proud to announce the 2013 Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation (BHSI) Fellows. Created to support socially-minded innovators in the U.S. and around the world, this year's Fellows are already improving the lives of nearly 500,000 people through their collective ventures spanning New York, Chicago, California, Canada and Africa.
"Building on the success of former BHSI Fellows, we are thrilled to recognize and support the work of this passionate group of young innovators. They are creatively addressing significant social challenges and already creating meaningful impact across health care, education, the environment, poverty and disaster relief," said Leslie Bluhm, co-founder of the volunteer service organization Chicago Cares and founder of the BHSI Fellowship with her husband David Helfand. "We look forward to welcoming them to Chicago to present at CIW, meet with business and political leaders, potential investors and mentors, and much more – it's an incredible experience that we can't wait to share with them."
On top of gaining international exposure by taking to the CIW stage to present during select sessions Oct. 14-20, the following Fellows will receive a $10,000 stipend toward accelerating their ventures:
- Sasha Fisher, 24, Spark MicroGrants, Mbale, Uganda (sparkmicrogrants.org/): Following a visit to South Sudan in 2008 and witnessing failing projects funded by poorly allocated international aid, Fisher became eager to eradicate poverty in the developing world with a new model. Upon graduating college, she moved to Rwanda and started Spark MicroGrants to provide bottom-up development support through financial grants paired with proactive guidance instead of top-down aid. Spark has now partnered with 53 rural communities across Uganda and Rwanda to empower them to shape and implement their own social impact projects, including schools, farms, health clinics and more for a sustainable future.
- Sarah Elizabeth Ippel, 32, The Academy for Global Citizenship (AGC), Chicago, Ill. (agcchicago.org): At the age of 23, Ippel rode her bike to the Board of Education with a request to re-imagine what is possible in public education. Three years later, she opened AGC, a Chicago Public Charter School in the city's underserved southwest community that fosters students to become mindful, civically engaged leaders by examining their role in both their local communities and across world. With a larger goal of creating a replicable educational model that will lead to broader systemic change, Ippel is also constructing the first net-positive energy campus in Illinois, which will produce more energy than it consumes by incorporating several acres of restorative urban agriculture and food production that include a native tree forest, vegetable gardens, orchards and greenhouses.
- Caitria O'Neill, 24, Recovers, San Francisco, Calif. (recovers.org): After her hometown of Monson, Mass. was torn apart by a tornado in 2011, O'Neill was inspired to develop Recovers, a platform that enables community-powered disaster recovery. By providing easy-to-use software and toolkits for organizing relief efforts and resources, Recovers teaches communities how to mitigate damage and plan for recovery. Today, there are 18 support sites or "recovery hubs" set up covering 27 communities across the U.S. and Canada, including one for Moore, Okla. following the devastating tornado that struck in May and the Pulaski County Flood Recovery Hub that launched last week in response to flash flooding in southwestern Missouri.
- Andrew Mangino, 26, The Future Project, New York, N.Y. (thefutureproject.org): While reporting on the public schools of New Haven as a Yale student, and later mentoring students while a speechwriter in Washington, D.C., Mangino became committed to changing the way we educate and began imagining a movement to make schools the most inspired places on earth. In 2011, he and his co-founder gathered more than 250 volunteers and launched The Future Project, which introduces "Dream Directors" into high schools across the country who are responsible for working to transform the culture of the school and turn students into passionate changemakers.
- Vineet Singal, 23, Anjna Patient Education, San Francisco, Calif. (anjna.org): Since struggling with being overweight, overcoming Type 2 diabetes and learning that 70 percent of low-income patients need more health information than they currently receive, Singal started Anjna Patient Education to improve healthcare for low-income, uninsured Americans suffering from chronic diseases. The organization designs, builds and implements mobile technology-enabled health solutions in underserved communities through an action confirmation and reminder system centered on the relationship between patients and clinic staff, and is anticipated to reach thousands of patients just this year.
In addition to the BHSI Fellowship program, CIW is excited to announce Hebru Brantley as its 2013 Artist in Residence. Brantley will create an extraordinary outdoor exhibition titled "The Watch" that will enliven the city's public space and CIW experience while also stimulating community revitalization, national dialogue and Chicago visitors. His final creation will be revealed in concert with CIW in October. The CIW Artist in Residence program is generously underwritten by Nancy and Steve Crown.
About Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand
Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand have spent many years committed to making a positive impact through philanthropy in the Midwest, as well as nationally. Leslie is the founder of Chicago Cares, the largest volunteer service organization in the Midwest today. Leslie's ambition for the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellowship is to help identify and support the next generation of socially-minded entrepreneurs. David is CEO of Helix Funds and co-president of Equity Group Investments. David serves on the boards of the Children's Memorial Hospital, National Louis University, Northwestern University's Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences and on the executive committee for the Samuel Zell and Robert Lurie Real Estate Center at University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business.
About Chicago Ideas Week
Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) is a premier annual gathering of global thought leaders and passionate participants that was created to help great ideas become realities. It's a platform for innovators, thinkers, doers and interested citizens from across Chicago and the world. CIW's goal is to stimulate new initiatives and ventures, create new connections and collaborations and establish a community of people with the desire to achieve great things. For more information, please visit www.chicagoideas.com, our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter via @chicagoideas. For more information about the BHSI Fellowship, visit https://www.chicagoideas.com/special_programs/bhsi.
Executive Director, Chicago Ideas Week
Director of Communications, Chicago Ideas Week
SOURCE Chicago Ideas Week