CHICAGO, Aug. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Philanthropists and entrepreneurs Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, along with Chicago Ideas, are proud to announce the names of the 2017 Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation (BHSI) Fellows. The Fellowship, in its seventh year, supports innovators under the age of 35 who are working to create positive global social impact through entrepreneurship.
Since 2011, the Fellowship has recognized 31 leaders across the globe and given more than $600,000 to for-profit and nonprofit organizations in direct financial and in-kind support. The BHSI Fellowship has also placed board members, made introductions to key future donors and helped organizations accelerate their national expansion (including several programs in Chicago).
The 2017 BHSI class, selected from more than 250 international applicants, has developed innovative solutions to address some of the world's most pressing social challenges. This includes an educational tablet and communications system for those who are incarcerated, a bipartisan online voter guide that empowers voters to make more educated choices, a sustainable protein snack that uses 2000x less water than its meat counterpart, and a grassroots program that enables underserved teens to establish a deeper connection to their city.
"Each year, we are blown away by the incredibly talented entrepreneurs we meet through the Fellowship," said BHSI co-founder Leslie Bluhm. "The work of this group is particularly powerful and timely, addressing the critical needs of our nation's socioeconomic, democratic, criminal justice and environmental landscapes. They are poised to change history with their passion, ideas and dedication."
In addition to receiving $10,000 in financial support of his or her work, each BHSI Fellow will partake in Chicago Ideas Week, October 16-22, 2017. They will present their ideas live on stage at the "Social Entrepreneurship" Conversation on Tuesday, October 17. For the first time in the Fellowship's history, three Fellows' organizations are based in Chicago.
"The 2017 class of BHSI Fellows continues the program's strong tradition of trailblazing entrepreneurs who are tackling social challenges with creative solutions and grit," said Jessica Malkin, CEO of Chicago Ideas and BHSI Fellowship co-director. "These five individuals have already had enormous impacts on their communities, and we look forward to working with them at Chicago Ideas Week, and beyond, to advance their personal and organizational goals."
The 2017 Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation Fellows include:
- Jahmal Cole, My Block, My Hood, My City (MBMHMC), 34, Chicago, IL. MBMHMC is a social initiative that takes teenagers from underserved Chicago communities on citywide explorations.
- Brian Hill, Edovo, 32, Chicago, IL. Edovo aims to reduce recidivism by bringing tech-enabled education and communication tools to those who are incarcerated.
- Katherine Katcher, Root & Rebound, 32, Oakland, CA. Root & Rebound is a reentry legal resource center that provides expertise in all areas of reentry law to individuals with past justice involvement, their families, and community based organizations and agencies.
- Alex Niemczewski, BallotReady, 29, Chicago, IL. BallotReady is an online voter guide for local, state, and national elections.
- Rose Wang, Chirps, 25, San Francisco, CA. Chirps makes healthy, delicious, and sustainable foods with insects.
For more information, visit https://www.chicagoideas.com/bhsi
ABOUT CHICAGO IDEAS
Chicago Ideas is a nonprofit platform built on one core belief: When audiences of every background have access to thought leaders and innovative ideas, people have the power to spark change in the world. Chicago Ideas hosts Chicago Ideas Week (CIW) every October, which is the largest affordable ideas festival in the world, connecting attendees to more than 200 world-renowned speakers—but Chicago Ideas' efforts extend much further. Whether it's over 100 Labs that offer exclusive looks into Chicago-based businesses and cultural institutions, a year-round YOU(th) program that promotes leadership and personal development among under-represented Chicago high school students or a digital news platform that highlights innovative people and organizations, Chicago Ideas is helping make visionary ideas accessible to everyone. Chicago Ideas is a 501(c)(3) organization. Follow Chicago Ideas on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for updates and learn more about becoming a member at Chicagoideas.com/membership.
ABOUT THE BLUHM/HELFAND SOCIAL INNOVATION FELLOWSHIP
Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand are committed to making a positive impact through philanthropy in the Midwest, as well as nationally. Leslie is the co-founder of Chicago Cares, the largest volunteer service organization in the Midwest. Chicago Cares creates group volunteer experiences that meet critical needs while unifying the community. Leslie's ambition in creating the Fellowship was to support the next generation of socially-minded entrepreneurs.
David is the president and CEO of Equity Commonwealth, in addition to being co-president of Equity Group Investments, a Chicago-based private investment firm. David is a director of the Ann & Robert Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, serves on the Executive Committee for the Zell/Lurie Real Estate Center at University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and is a member of the Board of Visitors at the Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern University. His core philanthropic interests are access to education and entrepreneurship.
SOURCE Chicago Ideas