Finding Fearless Projects
Youth L.E.A.D. (YL) is the first food justice organization founded in South Florida. YL educates, empowers, and employs low-income teens of color to adopt better eating habits while working to increase access to healthy foods and green spaces in their communities. Since its inception in 2010, YL has trained more than 200 teens, employed over 25 training graduates, and educated over 4,600 people. Founder and Director Erin Healy holds a Masters of Public Health from Tulane and has been named one of “20 Emerging Leaders under 40” by the Miami Herald.
University of Illinois Ph.D. candidate Rajesh Karmani led the creation of Zero Percent to reflect his audacious goal of reducing the world’s current 40% food waste rate to 0%. The Zero Percent mobile app helps restaurants post donations and last-minute discounts on surplus food, helping to increase revenue opportunities for these businesses and alleviating the number of American households dependent on food assistance programs. Zero Percent has saved more than 5,000 pounds of food from being thrown away in Urbana, IL, where the program is being piloted.
Swipes for the Homeless
Swipes for the Homeless is a grassroots, student-run movement working with universities to collect students’ leftover meal credits (aka swipes) for homeless communities. Millennial Thach Nguyen, strives to think big and abolish hunger while increasing awareness through student empowerment and education. Since its inception, Swipes has collected more than 35,000 pounds of food for the homeless with a goal to decrease the number and size of the homeless population in each region they serve.
End Sexual Exploitation
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) founder Rachel Durchslag believes that young men must be part of the solution to end sexual exploitation. CAASE seeks to educate young men on the harms of prostitution and to enlist them as allies in the movement to end violence against women and girls. Since its inception, CAASE has launched the country's first prevention curriculum for high school aged boys and provides a legal clinic for survivors of sexual exploitation, serving more than 200 clients.
New American Leaders
The New American Leaders Project (NALP) is challenging the status quo by ensuring that immigrants are truly a part of American democracy – not just in voting booths, but on ballots. With education and training programs in key states, NALP helps immigrants represent their communities and emerge as civic leaders. Founder Sayu Bhojwani served as NYC’s Commissioner of Immigrant Affairs post 9/11.
WE DO Campaign
The WE DO campaign, led by the Reverend Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, proudly stands with LGBT couples as they ascend the steps of courthouses across the southern United States and request -- and are denied -- marriage licenses in their hometowns across the South. Knowing that they will be denied, they take these actions in order to bring attention to this critical civil rights issue and advocate for full federal equality. To address current realities in the South, the Campaign for Southern Equality also provides free legal clinics and support services to help LGBT people know their rights and protect themselves under current laws.
City Hall Fellows
Creating the next generation of enlightened leaders for local government, San Francisco-based City Hall Fellows aims to expand to five cities in five years. Inspiring talented and motivated Millennials to get involved in public service is at the heart of the program. Formerly the Executive Director of the CA 4-H Youth Foundation, and an avid supporter of veteran issues, Mike Rocco is CHF’s Executive Director and leads a group of 14 Fellows in S. F.
Peak Potential Climbing
Twelve years ago, JenFu Cheng couldn’t wait to pursue his dream of starting an organization to teach rock climbing to kids with disabilities. In spite of working 36-hour shifts as a first year resident in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, and in the face of skepticism, he started Peak Potential, which has taught rock climbing to hundreds of children with disabilities, both indoors and outdoors. Peak Potential plans to expand its outdoor climbing program so that its kids can experience the beauty of nature and push themselves even higher!
So They Can Know
Shockingly, only 23% of people diagnosed with STDs notify their sex partners. So They Can Know is an online platform that enables people to notify their partners, with the goal of getting more people treated and tested, and eventually stop the spread of STDs. Founder and Executive Director Jessica Ladd is pursuing her PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins and has previously interned with the White House Office of National AIDS Policy.
Gary Oppenheimer believes that to do the impossible, you must first believe it isn’t. Gary used this motto to build AmpleHarvest.org, helping America’s 40 million gardeners to donate excess produce to food pantries. He uses AmpleHarvest.org to move information to help diminish hunger, educate individuals and encourage growers to share excess food with pantries in desperate need of fresh produce. Helping to alleviate costs and working with the environment, Gary’s goal is “No Food Left Behind.”
When 2008 Zimmerman Fellowship Freedom Award recipient Aashika Damodar slipped and injured her ankle one night, she decided to design a height adjustable high heel. But it didn’t stop with shoes – the Breaking Heels fashion line was created to help fund advocacy and prevention efforts for victims of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation (CSE) through scholarships and mentorship programs. Aashika has been recognized for her work on anti-slavery prevention and advocacy.
Taking the Bull by the Horns
Passionate about protecting the natural assets of her western Montana community, Karen Knudsen decided to take an unconventional path to solving water quality problems caused by cattle ranching. She wanted to learn by doing, and took a big leap by purchasing a 2,300-acre cattle ranch complete with 300 cows. Developing a “show” rather than “tell” approach, and by partnering with members of the community, Karen and her team of ranchers, scientists & conservationists have created an innovative model for conserving water and cleaning up pollution.
Lori Markowitz is the Founder of Youth Ambassadors, a group of students working to address truancy and the high school dropout rate. Recently the Youth Ambassadors launched Introduction to Teaching, designed to develop compassionate, and skilled mentors to improve student attendance and encourage students to consider a career in education. Youth Ambassadors aims to arm students with the necessary tools necessary to become leaders and role models among their peers, producing strong and empowered community leaders.
Health for America
From humble beginnings, Madhura Bhat has blazed a remarkable academic and professional path. A visionary leader, she has now taken on the audacious challenge of using America’s greatest strength—entrepreneurship—to combat one of its greatest challenges– health. By pairing college graduates with a community leader, a medical champion, and private sector, Health for America seeks to leverage entrepreneurial approaches to building transformative public health solutions, while molding the next generation of leaders.
Marquis Cabrera, a foster care alumni, put his career – which included roles at The White House and City Year – on hold to establish Foster Skills, which puts on soft and hard skills programs, connects youth to resources, and raises awareness about the issues facing foster children. Foster Skills implements a unique model that leverages the human capital of university students, innovative technologies and entrepreneurial spirit to provide foster youth with a modicum of hope for a bright future.
Arts for Incarcerated Women
Motivated by a belief in the power of art to transform communities, Leslie Neal founded ArtSpring to help incarcerated women develop self-growth and life skills through arts programming and community interaction. ArtSpring offers theatre, dance, creative writing, and music classes to women in the Florida Department of Corrections. Nearly 375 inmates take part in ArtSpring annually, and studies have shown that the recidivism rate is significantly reduced for those who participated in the program for a year or more.
Portland Junior Scientists
At age 16, school funding cuts and a deep passion for science motivated Meghana Rao to create Portland Junior Scientists. PJS is a student-run volunteer organization connecting high school students with underprivileged and at-risk kids to explore science, technology, engineering and mathematics with hands-on experimentation and discussion. Meghana’s main goal is to inspire students in underfunded schools lacking a deep science & math curriculum to pursue careers in science.
Youth Music Exchange
An internationally recognized innovator in education, Michael Bitz created this program to cut across the “engagement gap” in classrooms by going beyond traditional teaching methods. By transforming classrooms into recording studios; allowing students to write, record, and distribute their own music; and empowering students to turn blank pieces of paper into business plans, the project is reinforcing academic learning, social development, and career skills—all of which young people need to succeed.
DC Social Innovation Project
DC is full of people who want to solve pressing problems, but don’t have the support to get started. The DC Social Innovation Project—led by young lawyer Darius Graham—helps social enterprises that tackle big challenges. Whether a mobile health clinic or a new technology platform that connects teachers, students, and parents to track academic progress, the Social Innovation project provides grantees with funding, legal services, and expert advice to help change DC for the better.
WI Pill & Drug Disposal
Frustrated with the growing prescription and over-the-counter drug abuse endemic, at the age of 14, Jordyn Schara decided to take action. She created the WI Prescription Pill & Drug Disposal to focus on getting these drugs off the street and out of the groundwater, which would reduce both abuse and the negative environmental impact. Since founding her 24/7 drug collection program for her community, Schara has collected more than 900,000 pounds of drugs in over 22 states.