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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
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Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: September 2016

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FPWA Hosts Intimate Discussion on Emerging Nonprofit Leadership featuring Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA, and Moderated by New York Times Reporter Nikita Stewart

Press Release – (New York, NY) – The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) convened its Personally Speaking speaker series on Wednesday, September 28, bringing Brian Silva, Executive Director of Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA), together with New York Times reporter Nikita Stewart and FPWA CEO Jennifer Jones Austin, for an intimate discussion on nonprofit leadership and building a platform around social justice issues.

FPWA’s Personally Speaking series, Sponsored by American Express, features prominent leaders who help to shape the nonprofit, philanthropic, civic and business sectors in New York City. This installment focused on Brian Silva, his journey to nonprofit leadership, and the fight for marriage equality.

Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director of FPWA kicked off the evening with welcoming remarks and shared FPWA’s goal for the evening to bring leaders and social activists to the forefront that have had a tremendous role in helping to shape and transform the city on important issues.

Attendees were engaged with an insightful conversation centered on nonprofit leadership, personal and professional challenges, LGBTQ discrimination today, and what’s next for MEUSA. Mr. Silva told his personal journey of becoming a leader, which began when he started a charity in high school for people living with HIV/AIDS. “My strong foundation for social justice came from this and it had a huge impact on me as a leader,” Mr. Silva said. He shared how he began phone banking in 2008 when Proposition 8 came to the fore, an experience which led him to volunteer at Marriage Equality New York. “We couldn’t win this as LGBTQ people. On a good day, we’re 10 percent of the population. We have to put ourselves out there and get people to know who we are. And every community has to do that. That’s why advocacy is so important. We have to step out and walk to you and then walk with you back over to where we want to start.”

Nikita Stewart artfully led the conversation and asked Mr. Silva about his role in getting Marriage Equality in New York on a national stage and the path he took to become a leader on this issue. She asked him about tactics he used and what he would have done differently. Mr. Silva believes it took losing many anti-marriage battles to make him stop and put some thought into what they were doing wrong. “We learned we had to invest money in testing advocacy with all communities because different messages resonated in different communities,” he said.

About FPWA

The Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA) is an anti-poverty, policy, and advocacy nonprofit with a membership network of nearly 200 human-service and faith-based organizations. FPWA has been a prominent force in New York City’s social services system for more than 92 years, advocating for fair public policies, collaborating with partner agencies, and growing its community-based membership network to meet the needs of New Yorkers. Each year, through its network of member agencies, FPWA reaches close to 1.5 million New Yorkers of all ages, ethnicities, and denominations. FPWA strives to build a city of equal opportunity that reduces poverty, promotes upward mobility, and creates shared prosperity for all New Yorkers. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About Brian Silva

Brian brings to Marriage Equality USA his experience leading other large, volunteer-driven organizations including the International Association of Emergency Managers – Student Council, a global organization comprised of 1400 members, plus chapters. He helped to lead and grow those groups, focusing on how to balance vision, strategy and tactics while supporting the volunteers that truly make the work successful. A passionate leader with a core commitment to diversity and the value of each individual, Brian has a steadfast dedication to LGBTQ equality, to non-profit work, and to collaboration with other organizations. Please visit Brian at

About Nikita Stewart

Nikita Stewart is a reporter at The New York Times where she covers social services with a focus on New York City Hall. Ms. Stewart has spent much of her career focused on local politics as a reporter previously at The Washington Post and The Star-Ledger in New Jersey. She has won several awards from state journalism associations and Investigative Reporters & Editors and was a Livingston Award finalist for a feature story on Cory Booker when he was an up-and-coming politician. She lives in Manhattan. You can find Nikita’s work at

The National Human Services Assembly Announces Research Findings and Recommendations for Building Family Well-Being

‘Two-Generation Approach’ explores how ongoing efforts at the state level could help bolster outcomes for families in policy and programmatic areas like childhood education and economic stability 

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C., September 29, 2016 – The National Human Services Assembly (the Assembly) has released “The Two-Generation Approach Framework: A Closer Look at State-Level Implementation” funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. The report explores how three states–Colorado, Connecticut, and Utah–are developing and implementing a Two-Generation (Two-Gen) framework in their human service programs. The Two-Gen approach builds well-being by working with both generations of families simultaneously to support early childhood education, elementary education, economic stability, and family engagement.

“Building and maintaining family well-being is one of the most powerful ways to create the opportunity for everyone to reach their potential and fully contribute to our communities. We believe the success of the Two-Gen approach in these states can serve as a starting point for advocates and practitioners in other states to further policy and programmatic change through the Two-Gen lens,” said Lee Sherman, president and CEO of the Assembly.

Key Findings

The Assembly interviewed state and local stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of the policies, systems, and structures supporting the Two-Gen approach. The findings demonstrate three distinct Two-Gen strategies:

  • Colorado. The state’s agency-driven approach begins with the alignment and coordination of services and sharing of data, combined with legislative backing through recent changes to state policy.
  • Connecticut. The state’s framework includes a pilot program that will build systems and program models within six communities, eventually serving as a template for scaling up Two-Gen programs statewide.
  • Utah. The state legislature created an interagency commission to explore the extent of intergenerational poverty in the state, from which a work plan was developed to align agency data collection and programs through to the caseworker level to ensure that services are more intentionally and effectively connected.

Policy Opportunities, Challenges, and Lessons

Colorado, Connecticut and Utah are on the vanguard of state implementation, developing innovative solutions to the structural barriers and challenges that have traditionally kept services for children and adults in silos. The three states have made significant contributions to the field’s understanding of how to best translate support for the Two-Gen approach into tangible solutions that fundamentally transform state policies, systems, and programs. The report highlights the importance of:

  • Cultivating champions of the Two-Gen approach in the state legislature and executive cabinet;
  • Developing unique ways to share data within and across state agencies to increase program efficiency;
  • Identifying populations within the state who share the potential to maximize the outcomes of Two-Gen program delivery;
  • Involving families in program design to ensure that services are tailored to the values of each community; and
  • Ensuring program sustainability by building opportunities for long-term systems change into Two-Gen policies and programs.

Tracy Wareing Evans, executive director at American Public Human Services Association, commented, “This report shines a spotlight on how Two-Generation approaches are helping states focus on the well-being of all children and families across the life cycle, shifting mindsets to solution-oriented service delivery that is both efficient and leading to better outcomes. The closer look at the approaches in Connecticut, Colorado, and Utah offers great insight into how other states might consider incorporating the Two-Gen lens across the education, employment, health, and human serving sectors.”

About the National Human Services Assembly

The National Human Services Assembly (the Assembly) is a Washington, DC-based association comprised of over 75 of the largest national nonprofit organizations. In aggregate, members and their affiliates and local service networks collectively touch, or are touched by, nearly every household in America—as consumers, donors, or volunteers. The Assembly focuses on strengthening the human service sector through shaping public dialogue, capacity building, collaboration, and improving nonprofit business practices.

Project Innovation Award Winners 2016 Address Global Water Challenges

Press Release – The Hague, 27.09.16 – Today The International Water Association announced the Project Innovation Award Winners 2016 from Australia, China and South Africa. The International Water Association Project Innovation Awards are a prestigious global competition and the winners have been selected for their innovation and excellence in water management.

Project Innovation Awards winners are:

Applied Research Award

Sydney Water, Australia

Advanced Condition Assessment and Pipe Failure Prediction Project

Design and Planning Award

Zhejiang Kaichuang Environmental Technology Corporation, Ltd, China

The First Zero Discharge Demonstration Project of Papermaking Wastewater in China

Operations and Management Award

Mackay Regional Council, Australia

Digital Innovation in Local government

Marketing and Communications Award

Rand Water, South Africa

Let’s be Water Wise

“The water sector is facing unprecedented global challenges. Urgent and innovative action is necessary to ensure that a sustainable water future meets the needs of billions of people and the environment. This years award winners from South Africa, China and Australia have shown excellence and innovation in water engineering projects with real impact and potential throughout the world,” said Ger Bergkamp, Executive Director, the International Water Association.

The IWA Project Innovation Awards, now in their tenth year. The awards emphasize developing responses to global water challenges that are achieved through innovative and practical solutions that improve efficiency, and provide real economic and health benefits throughout the water cycle.

The Project Innovation Awards will be held during the IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Brisbane, Australia on Wednesday 12 October, 2016. The winners will be announced at an award ceremony at Rydges, South Bank, Brisbane, where the overall Project Innovation Awards Grand Award Winner will be announced.

Water is seen as one of the critical risks facing the world today and in the future. Water scarcity is growing around the world at a time when demand for water reaches unprecedented heights. Climate change, a rapidly growing global population and the needs of agriculture, industry and the environment are all reducing our ability to deliver access to clean, safe water and basic sanitation services.

Land Trust Alliance Video Contest Raises Money for Local Land Conservation

#LandIsMy Encourages People to Reconnect with Land

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C. (Sept. 30, 2016) – The Land Trust Alliance, a national land conservation organization working to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America, today announced a video contest supporting local land conservation.

Hosted at and promoted through the hashtag #LandIsMy, this contest gives United States residents age 13 or older the opportunity to showcase an outdoor space that is meaningful to them. Entrants are encouraged to use whatever camera is readily available to them, such as their smartphone, to create a brief video. Entries must be received by noon Eastern on Nov. 11.

Rob Aldrich, the Alliance’s community conservation director, said the contest encourages people to reconnect with land important to them.

“We all depend on the land to live,” he said. “What we do with the land – build on it, take resources from it, save it – affects the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. The land affects where we live and how we live. But sometimes we take the land for granted. This contest helps remind us of the importance of land in our lives.”

Videos will be judged on the following criteria: 30 percent originality, 30 percent demonstration of how the subject is connected to the land, 30 percent compelling nature of the video and 10 percent quality of the video. Third prize is $1,000; second prize is $2,000; first prize is $4,000. The first-prize winner also gets to choose which land trust receives $10,000 directly from the Land Trust Alliance. The land trust selected must be a member of the Alliance, verifiable at

Contest rules are available at

About the Land Trust Alliance

Founded in 1982, the Land Trust Alliance is a national land conservation organization that works to save the places people need and love by strengthening land conservation across America. The Alliance represents more than 1,100 member land trusts supported by more than 100,000 volunteers and 5 million members nationwide. The Alliance is based in Washington, D.C. and operates several regional offices. More information about the Alliance is available at

Playworks Joins With Kids Television Show “MACK & MOXY” to Support the Power of Play

Streaming on Netflix Beginning October 1

Press Release – OAKLAND, Calif., Sept. 30, 2016Playworks, the national nonprofit that brings safe and healthy play to kids across the country, has teamed up with Mack & Moxy, an exciting new TV show for kids ages 3 – 7 years old that begins airing on Netflix Streaming October 1. Together they created a special episode about the power of play.

In the episode “Play It Again, Mack,” developed with Playworks, Mack & Moxy team up with Trooper Sydnee to bounce over to HelpeeLand School, where they run into a rabbit named Patch who is sad because recess has become too rowdy and no one wants to play anymore. To cheer Patch up, the Heroes start a lively game of foursquare. But when a disagreement develops over who won, Trooper Sydnee suggests Rock, Paper, Scissors to settle the dispute. It works like a charm!

“Recess and play time is all about having fun, but there’s actually a lot happening underneath the surface,” says Jill Vialet, CEO and founder of Playworks. “Take Rock, Paper, Scissors, for example. It’s a game kids can play, and it’s also a tool they can use to solve disagreements quickly, easily and without the help of an adult. Less time arguing, means more time playing, and we are so excited to share a few games from our playbook with Mack & Moxy!”

Playworks creates a place for every kid on the playground to feel included, be active, and build valuable social skills. They do this by providing schools with full and part-time coaches, plus training services to school administrators and staff. With twenty years of experience in making play more safe, healthy and fun, Playworks shared some of their favorite playtime activities for the Mack & Moxy episode.

Series creator Brahm Wenger states, “Sometimes it seems as if even our youngest children are being encouraged to spend every moment of every day trying to getting ahead. Here at Mack & Moxy we agree with Playworks that children should have time every day to BE children – to play with their friends and schoolmates without keeping score or getting in arguments. We hope this episode encourages kids to get off the couch and organize some neighborhood games!”

Mack & Moxy is produced by Socially Dynamic Entertainment in association with Vancouver, Canada-based animation studio Bardel Entertainment (Jake and the Neverland Pirates; Puss in Boots; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).

About Playworks

Playworks is the leading national nonprofit leveraging the power of play before, during, and after school to transform children’s physical and emotional health. Playworks currently serves more than 1200 schools in 23 cities, and reaches more than 700,000 students directly and through professional training services. Through inclusive, safe, and healthy play, Playworks is helping to improve students’ behavior and their attitude towards school; increasing students’ level of daily physical activity; fostering more empathetic kids; and ultimately developing more engaged and productive citizens. We change kids’ experience of school through fun active play every school day. For more information, visit

About Mack & Moxy

In association with American Public Television and Georgia Public Broadcasting, Award-winning Mack & Moxy was created to teach children life-long lessons of charity and compassion, while celebrating the joy of helping others. In season one Mack & Moxy joined hands with America’s leading non-profit organizations to introduce children to important causes like Hunger Awareness, Early Childhood Education, Wildlife Preservation, Emergency Preparedness, Autism inclusion, STEM Education, the Power of Play, National Parks and the Great Outdoors, Seat Belt Safety, Physical Fitness, Eating Healthy and more. Combining state-of-the-art 3D animation, live-action puppets, fun adventures, humor and catchy music, each Mack & Moxy episode is inspired by the kindness of the great humanitarians among us who make this world a better place. Mack & Moxy premieres on Netflix streaming beginning October 1, 2016 and is currently airing on PBS stations nationwide.

New Primer Is Go-To Resource on Using 501(c)(4) s for Good

Press Release – WASHINGTON, D.C., September 30 – Bolder Advocacy, an Alliance for Justice educational and expert training resource, in partnership with Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, its affiliated 501(c)(4) organization, and the ATLAS Learning Project, is excited to announce a new publication, “Primer on Social Welfare Organizations: Using 501(c)(4) Organizations for Good.” This handy, comprehensive booklet tackles an issue that concerns nonprofits and funders alike: how to take advantage of the unique capabilities of 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations to drive positive social and political change.

“It’s true that the type of nonprofits known as 501(c)(4)s have been caught up in controversy in recent years, and all the publicity might leave activists worried about risk or wondering if (c)(4)s are worth their investment,” said Abby Levine, Director of AFJ’s Bolder Advocacy program. “We want to clear up this uncertainty and encourage people to explore the usefulness of (c)(4)s. The truth is, (c)(4)s can absolutely play a great role in bringing about positive policy change, and can be an indispensable part of a coordinated strategy with other types of nonprofits. But you have to know the rules that apply to these nonprofits to be effective and stay on the right side of the law.”

The new primer can be downloaded here. It covers the big questions that advocates and funders ask, including how 501(c)(4)s are unique, what kinds of activities they can undertake, who donates to them, and what rules govern donor disclosure. Brief descriptions of real-world examples help illustrate how (c)(4)s have played key roles in advancing causes such as marriage equality and immigration reform.

Of particular interest to philanthropists, the primer notes that a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization “provides maximum program flexibility, anonymity, and a high return on investment, particularly for donors who are not concerned with a tax deduction.”

Bolder Advocacy promotes active engagement in democratic processes and institutions by giving nonprofits and foundations the confidence to advocate effectively and by protecting their right to do so. Our goal is to demystify and decode advocacy by equipping organizations with knowledge and tools. We help organizations fully understand the rules and become assertive in their right to pursue their policy goals. If you have a question, contact one of our advocacy coaches through our technical assistance hotline, 866-NP-LOBBY or

Cinnaire Awarded $6.5 Million in CDFI Fund Grants

Grants work to help low-income families and economically distressed communities

Press Release – LANSING, MI – Cinnaire, a community development finance organization, was awarded $6.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) to further its mission of supporting community stabilization and economic development.

On Wednesday, Sept. 21, Cinnaire was awarded $5.5 million in grants through the CDFI Fund Capital Magnet Fund (CMF) program. The CDFI Fund received 125 applications for CMF dollars and awarded nearly $91.5 million in grants among 32 organizations. Cinnaire, headquartered in Lansing, Mich., but serving multiple regions in the country including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Delaware, was given the largest of the grants awarded. CMF supports financing for the preservation, rehabilitation, development or purchase of affordable housing for low-income communities as well as related economic development and community service facilities such as day care centers, workforce development centers and health care clinics.

“The impact of this program will be tremendous,” said CDFI Fund Director Annie Donovan. “The program requires recipients to leverage $10 of housing and economic development investments for every $1 of federal funds, meaning today’s awards will support over $900 million of investment in low-income communities.”

Awardees plan to develop 17,000 affordable housing units, including more than 15,000 rental units and nearly 2,000 homeownership units. Thirty-eight states (including the District of Columbia) will be served by award recipients.

On Tuesday, Sept. 27, awards were announced for the CDFI Fund’s Financial Assistance (FA) and Technical Assistance (TA) programs. A total of 457 applications were submitted and 158 organizations received awards totaling over $170 million. Cinnaire was awarded an additional $1 million in grant funding through the FA program to increase its lending and investment activity in low-income and economically distressed communities.

“It is an honor to have received these two grants. This degree of trust truly validates our organization’s dedication to grow and positively impact more communities,” said Mark McDaniel, president and CEO of Cinnaire. “Our team works tirelessly for the communities we serve and this funding helps us further impact economically distressed areas.”

Cinnaire is a full-service financial partner that supports community and economic development initiatives through creative loans, investments and best-in-class services. We match exceptional community investment opportunities with community-focused investors. To learn more, visit, Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Bushwick Film Festival to Premiere Film on Pioneering Experiential Disabilities Course

Audiences will get a first-hand look at how NYU Tandon School of Engineering class transforms lives in the intimate new film, “The Ability Exchange”

View trailer and purchase tickets here:

Press Release – BROOKLYN, New York – NYU Tandon School of Engineering Senior Lecturer Allan B. Goldstein’s Disabilities Studies course, where engineering students and self-advocates with cerebral palsy explore how to communicate, connect, and cultivate their abilities by making movies, will be featured in the new documentary “The Ability Exchange.”

The course is part of the NYU ABILITY Project, which fosters collaboration between engineers, designers, educators, speech and occupational therapists, and individuals with disabilities. The assistive technologies program is one of the many ways the NYU Tandon School of Engineering utilizes technology in service to society.

Described by Indiewire as “an empathy engine,” the award-winning film will make its New York premiere at 411 Troutman Street in Brooklyn on Lot 45 this Saturday, October 1, at noon during the ninth Bushwick Film Festival. A Q&A session with Goldstein and director Bing Wang will follow the screening. To see a trailer for the film and purchase tickets, please visit .

“I was very lucky that such a talented filmmaker was interested in the project,” said Goldstein. “This heartwarming film will inspire audiences and show a different side of engineering students and self-advocates with cerebral palsy, as they harness the power of filmmaking and digital stories to better understand each other and themselves.”

Wang produced, directed, shot, and edited the film, which takes place in an intimate class setting at NYU Tandon in Downtown Brooklyn. Goldstein approached Wang to make the documentary because he wanted to share his method of teaching with others.

Goldstein is a member of the faculty in the Technology, Culture and Society Department at NYU Tandon. He helped establish the Disabilities Studies minor, a multi-school interdisciplinary program intended to educate students about the historical, social, and legal circumstances that shape the experience of disability – and help them discover ways in which they can put their engineering knowledge to use in the field.

Wang was concurrently awarded a master of arts degree from the Cinema Studies Program at the Tisch School of the Arts and a Culture and a media certificate from the Anthropology Department at NYU College of Arts and Science. Beyond his documentary film projects, Wang works as a video production specialist for the Sign Language Center in Manhattan and freelance video editor for a number of organizations including the Guggenheim Museum. Bing grew up in Harbin, China, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

The Film Festival runs September 29 – October 2 and will host 27 screenings: 11 documentaries, 10 narratives, 4 short film screenings, a web series screening, and an art house film selection.

About the NYU Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, when the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture as well as the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly) were founded. Their successor institutions merged in January 2014 to create a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within the country’s largest private research university and is closely connected to engineering programs in NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates business incubators in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit

About the Bushwick Film Festival

From September 29 to October 2nd, The 9th Annual Bushwick Film Festival will host 27 screenings: 11 documentaries, 10 narratives, 4 short film screenings, a web series screening, and an art house film selection. In addition to film screenings, guests have the opportunity to attend a series of workshops, events, and panels including a Women In Film Day featuring leading women in the industry and films highlighting women’s stories. In addition, Tribeca Film Institute will be hosting a panel during our Industry Series and other panels are seated by industry professionals from ESPN, Vimeo, BRIC TV, Kickstarter, HBO and more. Special festival guests include Marc John Jefferies (Notorious), actress and director Diarra Kilpatrick, (American KOKO, Elizabeth Wood (White Girl) and Romas Zabarauskas (You Can’t Escape Lithuania). For a full list of festival events and screenings visit

Roberta Annan and MO SAÏQUE Designer Afua Dabanka Team Up for Fashion Week

Annan’s Frallain is investing in the designer’s company which represents a fusion of cultures, global craftsmanship and modern extravagance

Press Release – PARIS September 29, 2016 – Roberta Annan – a renowned global development consultant, impact investor and philanthropist – announced today that Frallain, a conglomerate of luxury and premium brands by African and African diaspora fashion designers, has made a social impact investment in shoe brand MO SAÏQUE. As Founder of Frallain, Ms. Annan is backing this brand which represents a fusion of cultures, global craftsmanship and modern extravagance, making it a vital part of the Luxury Conglomerate of African Brands of her organization.

“I am so proud to be working with Afua Dabanka and MO SAÏQUE,” said Ms. Annan. “It is my passion to help other women channel their passion and to empower them. That is what Frallain is all about – it is what the majority of my life’s work has been about. I congratulate Afua on her dedication and I am in awe of her every day!”

MO SAÏQUE’s new line SS17, The Market Women offers a range of shoe designs that are transported to Kenya where they are hand beaded by a small collective of Masai women in Nairobi. This intricate finishing not only gives unique depth and texture to the designs, but also promotes the special skills of these makers, thereby encouraging their own start-up enterprises to grow.

SS17 debuts at Paris Fashion Week and will be exhibited as part of the African Print Fashion Now! exhibition at Fowler Museum UCLA from April 2017. The future holds a move into men’s shoes and other accessories, and of course more high heels. But for now, Afua’s bold new empire starts here.

About Roberta Annan & Frallain

Originally from Ghana, West Africa, Roberta has lived and worked on four continents and founded businesses including Roberta Annan Consulting and Frallain, a company supporting the empowerment of women within the textile and fashion industry. Roberta is a Senior Advisor at the LJ Partnership and a founding partner of LJ Africa Advisors. Roberta is spearheading LJ Partnership’s strategy to deliver financial services and client solutions across Sub Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining LJ Partnership, Roberta worked for the United Nations where she raised funds and established formidable relationships with prominent individuals, government officials, and HNWI’s. While at the UN, Roberta worked in various capacities within different initiatives such as the South-South News, United Nation Development Program (UNDP) – Community and Adaptation Learning Mechanism, United Nations Global Alliance for ICT and Development (UN-GAID).

Roberta holds a Masters degree (summa cum laude) in Biotechnology from Georgetown University and received a Bachelor’s degree (summa cum laude) in Biochemistry and Biotechnology from Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. More recently she enrolled in the Program For Leadership Development at the Harvard Business School.

Frallain is a Conglomerate of African and African diaspora fashion Luxury and Premium designers with a focus to increase the presence of African and African diaspora talent in the global luxury market by strengthening their brand through our services tailored to their needs. The organization has a high-profile team with unmatched strategic planning skills combined with valuable relationships and resources in fashion, art, entertainment, business, and media. Frallain is dedicated to ensuring that clients thrive in the global luxury market so whether emerging or firmly established, each designer that we work with represents best quality, creativity, and aesthetic.

About Afua Dabanka & MO SAÏQUE

Born in rural Germany to Ghanaian parents, Afua grew up travelling extensively with her family and visiting Kumasi in Ghana each Christmas. Afua relocated to London to study economics and social science and established a career in banking but number crunching simply wasn’t enough. So she completed a series of shoe design courses at the London College of Fashion while researching the industry and fulfilled her dream by establishing MO SAÏQUE in 2011. Produced using the finest leathers in Italy, her debut collection of platform heels and peep toe sandals exuded a European clean cut aesthetic while the colour palette of hot house hues were drawn from her Ashanti roots.

Afua’s footwear has graced red carpets in Cannes and Monaco and catwalks in London, Milan, Lagos, Accra and New York. They have received press coverage everywhere from Bloomberg to Elle and built up demand thanks to Afua’s bespoke service. Having successfully founded one of the world’s only African female-owned high-end footwear brands, this enterprising businesswoman has in recent months also built up a new core team of strategic partners in order to take MO SAÏQUE into its next chapter.

USPTO Announces Patents for Humanity Winners

Press Release – Washington – The U.S. Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today announced the latest winners of the Patents for Humanity program. The Patents for Humanity program was launched by the USPTO in February 2012 as part of an Obama administration initiative promoting game-changing innovations to solve long-standing development challenges.

“We’ve seen the profound impact that good ideas—patented and marketed—can have on human beings, transcending national borders and transforming lives around the world,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Michelle K. Lee. “By showcasing the meritorious work of patent owners to address 21st century humanitarian challenges, we hope this program will continue to inspire and guide countless more innovators.”

The Patents for Humanity Award is the USPTO’s top honor for applicants best representing the Patents for Humanity principles. Award recipients receive public recognition at an award ceremony arranged by the USPTO. They also receive a certificate to accelerate certain matters before the Office. Honorable mentions go to applicants who were close to qualifying for top honors and may apply again in future years with further development of their technology. They receive a limited acceleration benefit.

Entries were received in five categories: medicine, nutrition, sanitation, energy and living standards. Although four of the categories did not produce honorees this year, the USPTO expects that will change in future cycles. Applications to the program were accepted through December 4, 2015.

The award ceremony is being scheduled for the fall, with arrangements forthcoming. The next round of the competition will be announced at a later date.

Following is a list of the 2016 Patents for Humanity winners:

USPTO is giving four awards and two honorable mentions in the 2016 Patents for Humanity awards. The award winners are:

  • U.S. Food & Drug Administration – for developing an improved meningitis vaccine production process that’s been used to immunize 235 million people in high-risk Africa countries.
  • Case Western Reserve University – for creating a low-cost, accurate malaria detection device using magnets and lasers that allows better diagnosis and treatment.
  • GestVision – for developing a quick, simple diagnostic test for preeclampsia, a potentially life threatening pregnancy complication, for use in developing regions.
  • Global Good Fund at Intellectual Ventures – for creating a passive cooler that can keep vaccines cold over 30 days and donating dozens of units to the fight against Ebola and other relief efforts.

Honorable mentions go to:

  • Sanofi – for researching new malaria drug candidates with shorter, simpler treatment
  • Alere Inc – for developing diagnostic assays for rapid and early HIV diagnosis at the point of care in low-resource settings

More details on each award winner below.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration

Meningitis A is a devastating disease afflicting 26 countries in Africa’s meningitis belt across sub-Saharan Africa. Thousands of people would die or be disabled each year, such as the 1996-97 epidemic when 25,000 were killed and a quarter million afflicted. The disease primarily afflicts young adults and children, leaving many wage earners with permanent brain damage. The Meningitis Vaccine Program (MVP) was formed by the health non-profit PATH, the Gates Foundation, and the World Health Organization to combat this epidemic.

Besides regulating the safety of food and health products, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) also conducts research on human health issues. FDA scientists set out to create a better meningitis vaccine production method for the MVP. The new technology they came up with raised the vaccine production yield from 20% to 60% and enabled the vaccine to last up to four days without refrigeration, unlike previous vaccines. FDA licensed the technology to the MVP and hosted production scientists from MVP’s Indian manufacturer to teach them how to use the vaccine production technology. As a result, more than 235 million people in Africa’s meningitis belt have been immunized with MenAfriVac® since 2010. Only four cases of meningitis A were reported in 2013 in the immunized region covering 16 countries. In 2015, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that MenAfriVac® be introduced in routine immunization schedules in sub-Saharan Africa. This will ensure that infants are protected against meningitis and will maintain population-wide immunity.

Case Western Reserve University (CWRU)

Accurately diagnosing malaria is a difficult problem, with an estimated half of global cases undiagnosed. The standard microscope test has low sensitivity with up to 30% false positives and 20% false negatives. This causes people infected with malaria to go untreated and people without malaria to receive anti-malarial drugs, contributing to drug resistance. Engineers and doctors at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) designed a rapid, accurate, low-cost malaria diagnostic test to address this problem. The Magneto-Optical Detection (MOD) device uses lasers and magnets to diagnose malaria in a completely new way, by detecting iron-laden byproducts of the parasite in the blood. This provides results in minutes with just a finger prick blood sample. The device can be ten times cheaper per test than the current standard and can be run by ordinary caregivers with minimal training. CWRU has conducted field trials diagnosing malaria in the Amazon, India, and Kenya. Since receiving an honorable mention in the 2014 Patents for Humanity program, CWRU has begun working with manufacturers to produce the device at scale for wider user.


Preeclampsia (PE) is a pregnancy complication that is the leading cause of prenatal death for mothers and babies worldwide, mostly in low and middle income countries. Although most deaths are preventable, approximately 63,000 women die from PE annually. In developed countries, PE can be diagnosed by regular doctor visits and laboratory tests, allowing treatment before severe symptoms occur. However, in developing regions without regular prenatal care, PE is often undiagnosed until serious complications such as stroke or organ failure occur. Startup company GestVision has developed a rapid, low-cost urine test for caregivers to diagnose PE in low-resource settings. The test detects misfolded proteins in urine associated with PE, shown by a colored dot similar to a pregnancy test. Gestvision’s test kits are currently being used in clinical studies around the world, including Bangladesh, Mexico City, and South Africa under grants from USAID, the Gates Foundation, and others. Following initial research at Yale University, GestVision was created to further develop the technology. GestVision is working on a manufacturing process to produce the kits in large volume.

Global Good Fund at Intellectual Ventures

Delivering vaccines to off-grid regions is complicated by the need to keep them cold. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 25-50% of global vaccines are wasted annually, much of this due to problems with maintaining a refrigeration “cold chain” during delivery. Researchers at Global Good designed the Arktek cooler to keep vaccines cold for over a month with no power required. The device combines an advanced design with high-efficiency insulation materials to prevent heat transfer.

Global Good Fund is a division of Intellectual Ventures dedicated to inventing technology that improves lives in the developing world. They aim to develop sustainable commercialization models which ensure the technology is affordable, accessible, and appropriate for developing regions. Global Good donated 30 Arktek coolers to help the WHO deliver vaccines during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, and to Nepal to assist with vaccinations after the 2015 earthquake. They have also partnered the Clinton Health Access Initiative, PATH, the Gates Foundation, UNICEF, and other United Nations organizations to conduct field trials with over 50 devices in Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia and Nigeria. Arktek has been used to store vaccines for tuberculosis, polio, and the pentavalent vaccines covering influenza, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B, and diphtheria. The technology has been licensed to a leading refrigeration manufacturer to produce the device at scale for an affordable price.

For more information on Patents for Humanity, including the latest announcements and more info about the program, visit the USPTO’s Patents for Humanity webpage.

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