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MySocialGoodNews is dedicated to sharing news about
social entrepreneurship, impact investing, philanthropy
and corporate social responsibility.

Crowdfunding for Social Good

Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

Social Entrepreneurship

This category includes articles about social entrepreneurs, typically about businesses with a for-profit model with a social mission embedded into the fabric of the business.

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HSBC Bank Grants $1 Million to Virtual Enterprises International

Funds will support the expansion of VE’s unique program that is preparing high school students for the jobs of the future and inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs

Program is addressing a critical gap in employment. According to studies, only 42.5 percent of employers consider students proficient in their professionalism and work ethic.

Press Release – NEW YORK, April 17, 2019 – HSBC Bank USA (HSBC) announced today that it has donated $1 million to Virtual Enterprises International (VE), allowing the nonprofit to offer its acclaimed career readiness and youth entrepreneurship program to 30,000 students in classrooms across the United States over the next two years. The HSBC relationship with VE began in 1999 and has included more than $2.8 million to date, as well as hours of service by HSBC employee-volunteers visiting the classrooms and acting as judges for the Youth Business Summit.

VE is a global, credited, in-school program where students create a simulated business in their classroom. Students gain an average of 180 hours of work experience by assuming the roles needed to run a successful business such as CEO, VP of Finance and HR Director. Through the program, students cultivate key professional, technical and life skills that are required to prepare them for the jobs of the future, while taking part in an authentic, collaborative, entrepreneurial experience.

The $1 million donation by HSBC will not only facilitate growth of the VE program in additional cities, but will support its expansion to high-need schools where more than 50 percent of the student population are from low-income households. The new funding will create the “HSBC Opportunity Fund” with students competing for funds to cover travel costs to attend VE’s national competitions during the Youth Business Summit.

According to statistics in the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2018 study, students’ perceptions of their career readiness skills are at odds with those held by potential employers. According to NACE research, only 42.5 percent of employers considered students proficient in their professionalism and work ethic compared to 89.4 percent of students. Additionally, while 79.9 percent of students believed they had honed critical thinking/problem solving skills, only 55.8 percent of employers felt the same.

“VE is unique in its way of preparing today’s youth for jobs of the future – some of which have yet to be invented,” said Maureen A. Gillan-Myer, US head of human resources for HSBC. “While technological skills are important for those careers, the higher cognitive skills like creativity, critical thinking, and complex information processing are vital, and are attributes honed through the VE program.”

Students recently benefitting from past HSBC grants include the VE class at C.S. Brown STEM High School in rural Winton, N.C. The students, who created a virtual fashion company, were given an all-expense paid trip to New York City by HSBC, enabling their participation in the Youth Business Summit.

“This whole experience has changed the motivation and focus of my students,” said VE teacher Daphne Lee of C.S. Brown STEM High School. “They feel so excited and appreciative of this opportunity; it has brought out the entrepreneur in them. We want to make sure that every student who comes through our school gets an opportunity to be a part of the VE program.”

The 20-year HSBC-VE partnership has not only provided VE with substantive financial support, but has given the nonprofit the assistance of hundreds of HSBC employees who have mentored students in business and entrepreneurship. Each year for the past two years, HSBC has been the signature sponsor of VE’s Youth Business Summit (YBS), an annual global business conference in New York City. This year, more than 5,000 students from virtual businesses in nine countries will participate in YBS, competing against one another for best business plan in the U.S., top sales pitches and more.

“HSBC’s very generous donation allows VE to offer students a life-changing opportunity to gain access to and engage with the global business community,” said Nick Chapman, president of Virtual Enterprises International. “Through HSBC, our program will continue to transform tens of thousands of students each year through authentic business experiences that mirror the real world.”


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Tel Aviv University and South Florida Local Governments Tackle Florida Stormwater Runoff in Inaugural LocalTAU Pitch Competition

Top scientific teams from Israel’s leading university pitch novel solutions to local crisis in “Shark Tank” style competition; The “Hydro Biofilters” team landed top prize, awarded $20,000 to pilot solution

Press Release – Miami, FLTel Aviv University (TAU), the City of Miami, City of South Miami and City of North Bay Village came together last night to solve one of Florida’s most critical issues: stormwater runoff. In the first-ever LocalTAU competition, TAU professors and students gathered at CIC Miami to pitch their innovative solutions to an audience of nearly 100 people, including South Florida government officials and stakeholders and local and national American Friends of TAU leaders, to help solve a crisis that affects millions of Florida residents. The “Hydro Biofilters” team won first place and $20,000 to begin researching and piloting the practical implementation of their solution.

“For Dr. Yaron Zinger and me, LocalTAU’s pitch competition and meeting with South Florida leaders and officials opened up a new area of the U.S. that urgently needs innovative solutions to water issues, which are intrinsically tied to climate change including sea-level rise, saltwater intrusion, and stormwater of course posing serious threats to the Sunshine State,” said Prof. Dror Avisar. “Winning the competition is icing on the cake. Of course, we want to thank the leadership of LocalTAU and American Friends of TAU. We’re looking forward to the next steps.”

Two teams were selected from 15 applicants to participate, and included:

  • Hydro Biofilters”: Proposes building multi-layered biofilters to direct stormwater away from city streets, purify it and turn it into an easily accessible water resource. Presented by Prof. Dror Avisar and Dr. Yaron Zinger.
  • The Drain Box”: Proposes dividing stormwater runoff: domestic collection from roofs and balconies into home-adjacent containers; municipal collection diverts runoff to an underground infiltration box; and a much smaller portion into the bay. Presented by Ines Zucker, PhD and Gil Nisim, MSc candidate.

The LocalTAU competition used “Shark Tank” style rules. Both teams were given ten minutes to present their innovative solutions and then faced a round of questions from the judges panel. Judges included: Dr. Frances Colón, former highest-ranking Hispanic scientist in the Obama State Department; Col. Alan M. Dodd, director of the City of Miami Department of Resilience and Public Works; Melissa Hew, program manager in the City of Miami Office of Resilience and Sustainability; Denise O’Brien, Chair, North Bay Village Sustainability and Resiliency Task Force; Zac Cosner, City of South Miami sustainability administrator; Tamence Knowles, director of environmental health and safety at FIU; and Michael Rupinski, environmental compliance officer at FIU.

The judges challenged both teams about the sustainability of their potential solutions due to Florida’s frequent hurricanes, issues with coordination and sequencing, concerns about mosquitos and Zika virus and ultimately the cost of implementation.

After 15 minutes of private deliberation, the judges returned to offer their analysis of the proposals and announce the winner. They provided commentary on the pros and cons of each proposals. Ultimately, the judges preferred the Hydro Biofilters proposal citing its low cost and sustainability.

Amanpour & Company correspondent Alicia Menendez served at the moderator of the event. LocalTAU founders Vinna Katz and Romina Ruiz-Goiriena provided introductory remarks. Special guests Mr. Guy Gilady, Deputy Consul General of Israel in Miami, and Clement Erbmann, national chairman of American Friends of Tel Aviv University also spoke briefly.

The host committee included: Romi Bhatia, executive director of Idea Center at Miami Dade College; Dave Doebler, cofounder of Volunteercleanup.org; Sarah Emmons, managing director of Radical Partners; Albert Gomez, head of superNATURE; TJ Marston, principal at Plot Studio and instructor at FIU; Dara Schoenwald, cofounder and executive director of Volunteercleanup.org; Rachel Streitfeld, Esq., founder and managing partner of Bright Side Legal; Caiti Waks, Esq., cofounder and president of Debris Free Oceans; Jeremy Waks, cofounder of Debris Free Oceans.

About LocalTAU

LocalTAU is a young leadership program that offers engaged, passionate leaders the opportunity to identify local issues and source innovative solutions from world renowned TAU research through an annual pitch competition. In the process, it creates awareness, community and synergy between TAU and young activists in cities across the United States. LocalTAU uses a self-funded grant model to bridge philanthropy and startup methodologies – i.e. pitch competitions, pilots, agile adaptation.

The South Florida collaboration is the first LocalTAU Pitch Competition and is produced in coordination with American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

About American Friends of Tel Aviv University

American Friends of Tel Aviv University supports Israel’s most influential, comprehensive and sought-after center of higher learning, Tel Aviv University (TAU). TAU is recognized around the world for creating an innovative, entrepreneurial culture that generates inventions, startups and economic development in Israel. TAU is ranked 8th in the world, and first in Israel, for producing startup founders of billion-dollar companies. Tel Aviv University researchers rank #1 in Israel in producing patents, are first in the world to print a 3D heart with human tissue, and rank #4 in innovation in the world.


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Leonhardt’s Launchpads Announces Filing of Provisional Patent for Bioelectric Stimulation Controlled Sonic Hedgehog Expression – Powerful Anti-aging and Regeneration Promoting Protein

Device, programmed bioelectric signaling sequences and methods for the controlled expression up or down of the sonic hedgehog protein on demand

Press Release – United States, California, Los Angeles – 04/16/2019 (PRDistribution.com) – Leonhardt’s Launchpads, a Los Angeles and Salt Lake City based innovation and startup accelerator focused on bioelectric and biologics based organ regeneration and recovery, today announced filing of patent application for bioelectrical stimulation signaling sequences able to control the release of the sonic hedgehog protein, a known powerful anti-aging and regeneration promoting protein.

The technology described in the patent involves precise bioelectric signaling sequences that communicate with the DNA and cell membranes within stimulated tissues to cause the cells to produce high volumes of the sonic hedgehog protein on demand.

“Our growing patent portfolio uniquely positions us at the forefront of bioelectric and stem cell biologics based organ regeneration and recovery,” said Howard J. Leonhardt, Executive Chairman and CEO, Leonhardt’s Launchpads and inventor. “As leaders in this field, we continue to expand our intellectual property protections having filed over 180 new patent claims in 2018 alone and 2019 is on pace to exceed this level. We hope this soon translates to helping people to keep their own organs, regenerated back to full health, instead of getting artificial, animal or donor transplant implants.”

By the terms of being part of the Leonhardt’s Launchpads innovation and startup accelerator(s) all 30 startups in the accelerator have a no additional fee exclusive ownership license for their specific organ application. Leonhardt’s Launchpads has 30 startups in these technology groups – Heart & Cardiovascular (9), Brain (1), Cosmetic & Personal Care (7), Major Organ Regeneration (12) and Cancer (1) – https://leonhardtventures.com/our-companies/ + https://leonhardtventures.com/development-pipeline/

“We hope to prove in well controlled studies the ability of this protein expression combined with others to regenerate full health to organs. The company is proceeding cautiously to move this technology into the clinic in careful steps.” stated Dr. Leslie Miller Chief Medical Officer

The sonic hedgehog protein has been demonstrated or discovered to have a role in many organ regeneration applications which correspond with startups within our accelerator. A few examples are listed below.

  1. BioLeonhardt www.bioleonhardt.com > heart regeneration > https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30236923
  2. EyeCell www.eye-cell.com > eye regeneration > https://iovs.arvojournals.org/article.aspx?articleid=2372930
  3. LiverCell www.livercell.com > liver regeneration > https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2920129/
  4. PancreaCell https://leonhardtventures.com/pancreacell/ > pancreas regeneration > https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2666349/
  5. CerebraCell www.cerebracell.combrain regeneration > https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6121355/
  6. Vascustim www.vascustim.comwound healing > https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26154888 + https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/9781934854280.171
  7. HairCell www.haircellstim.comhair regeneration > https://newatlas.com/sonic-hedgehog-gene-hair-regrowth/57435/
  8. SkinSkim www.skin-stim.comskin regeneration > https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2018/12/04/researchers-discover-new-skin-regeneration-mechanism/
  9. MyoStim ED www.erectistim.comerectile dysfunction > https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1742706116300149
  10. Regenalung https://leonhardtventures.com/regenalung/ lung regeneration > https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5362576/

With this IP filing addition, Leonhardt’s Launchpads intellectual property portfolio now includes over 300 patented or patent pending invention claims that have been issued, filed, optioned or licensed focused on organ regeneration or recovery.

“We are very proud of our R&D lab research staff members led by Sejal Chaudhari in our own Utah lab that worked long hours with many failed tries prior to discovering the right bioelectric signaling sequences to control the up regulation of the sonic hedgehog protein. We believe this is a landmark breakthrough in the field of bioelectric organ regeneration.” stated Dr. Brett Burton, VP R&D & Startup Launches Leonhardt’s Launchpads Utah, Inc.

Note – In some potential therapeutic uses different bioelectric signaling sequences, also being developed by the same team, may be used to down regulate sonic hedgehog protein expression.

About Leonhardt’s Launchpads:

Leonhardt’s Launchpads www.leonhardtventures.com is the innovation and startup accelerator arm of Leonhardt Ventures LLC focused on bioelectric and biologics based organ regeneration and recovery. The 2019 portfolio class has 30 startups – https://leonhardtventures.com/development-pipeline/. The accelerator business model is to advance each organ specific innovation through first-in-man studies and then seek a strategic partner for the balance of development.


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Two GCSEN Alumni (Global Center For Social Entrepreneurship Network) Participate In The Draper Competition For Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs At Smith College

Press Release – Kingston, NY / April 16, 2019 – GCSEN, The Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship Network (GCSEN Foundation) recently had two of its program alumni, Ms. Gyana Srivastava and Ms. Khadeedja Muheto, both of Wheaton College, Norton MA, participate in the prestigious Draper Competition for Collegiate Women Entrepreneurs held at Smith College, Northampton MA. GCSEN is dedicated to spreading the ideas and practice of Social Entrepreneurship to higher education students and adult learners across the world. The organization’s credo is to “Make Meaning, Make Money, and Move the World to a Better Place” via Social Entrepreneurship education and empowerment, and its Social Venture Experience offerings.

The annual Draper Competition at Smith College is designed to hone the skills that undergraduate women need, to advance through the process from venture idea to creation. Through three rounds of tough competition, students demonstrate an understanding of a business or social problem, why the problem requires a new venture to address it, how their idea presents the best solution to the problem, and what resources, partnerships and activities it would take to successfully launch the venture. This year over 1000 women from forty-eight Draper Schools, including Wheaton College and Vassar College, applied to participate, with over $100,000 in cash and scholarships awarded to the winning competitors.

Ms. Gyana Srivastava, Wheaton College (2021) entered into the competition’s Social Impact Track and reached the Top 75 Competitor’s Tier in the overall competition. Her venture, entitled Gurukul Dance, is an initiative designed to create a dance company for special needs children in India. An economics and psychology major, she participated in GCSEN’s Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp at Wheaton in January 2019. In 2017, Ms. Srivastava was awarded Wheaton College’s “Next Genius” Scholarship. A student from The Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, she was selected from a pool of 6,000 Indian high school applicants for the full scholarship. Ms. Srivastava said, “GCSEN gave me the confidence I needed to think out my idea and turn it into a professional level pitch deck. The Draper Competition at Smith College was exciting, and my social venture is now ready to be actualized in India this summer. It took a lot of work but was well worth the effort. I really believe in Gurukul and now have the tools I need to actualize it. Thank you GCSEN!”

Ms. Khadeedja Muheto attended GCSEN’s Social Entrepreneurship Bootcamp at Wheaton College in January 2018 as a GCSEN intern. There, she was introduced to the core concepts of 4P social ventures for People, Planet, Profit and Place. A double major in math and economics, she graduated from Wheaton College in 2018 and is currently the College’s Coordinator of Entrepreneurship Programs, WiN Hub and High School Enrichment Activities. Ms. Muheto acted as mentor for Ms. Srivastava’s Gurukul Dance venture in the competition. Ms. Muheteo said, “GCSEN was the catalyst that gave me the confidence to move into the world of social entrepreneurship. I’m now working for Wheaton College in our WiN Hub Social Entrepreneurship office. I mentored Gyana’s social venture through the Draper Competition and the feedback we got from the other competitors and the judges was fantastic!”

The WiN Hub at Wheaton was created in collaboration with the Diana Davis Spencer ’60 Foundation, to introduce the transformative force of social entrepreneurship to the Wheaton community. Through programming, events and workshops, students gain the confidence and competence to follow their passions and launch their own social enterprises. Under Wheaton’s WiN Hub is its Social Venture Launch Program, which includes GCSEN’s Social Venture Boot Camp experience.

GCSEN Founder & President Mike Caslin said, “We are ecstatic that participants in our Social Venture Bootcamps did so well at the Draper Competition. GCSEN is at the cutting edge of Social Entrepreneurship research, education and leadership. We saw how hard Ms. Muheto and Ms. Srivastava worked on this social venture presentation, which will become a viable business someday. Every campus and business can benefit from learning what GCSEN has tested and proven. Participants in our programs consistently rate it as a life-changing experience, with significant knowledge gains and ten-time increases in business formulation rates. The positive ripple effects our programs have on individuals and on campuses has been dramatic, and we continue to build on our successes.”

Since 2015, GCSEN has developed and rolled out a series of innovative Social Entrepreneurship Experience (SVE) offerings including its highly regarded Boot Camps for college students and adult learners, and its on-line blended learning courses with live coaching, SE 101 & SE 102. These courses earn successful participants college accreditation and GCSEN’s SVE Certification, as well as access to GCSEN’s life-long on-line support community. The courses have been taught at Wheaton College, SUNY New Paltz, Vassar College and Saint Peter’s University (Jersey City) and are currently under discussion for implementation at other campuses.

GCSEN Founder & President Mike Caslin is an internationally recognized thought leader of Social Entrepreneurship, currently lecturing at SUNY New Paltz Business School (NY), and St. Peter’s University Business School (Jersey City, NJ). He has spent the last three decades studying, lecturing and facilitating efforts to promote social entrepreneurship on a global scale. GCSEN’s leadership and influence in the field of Social Entrepreneurship in Higher Education continues to build, as seen in its support of Wheaton College’s successful effort in 2017 to create enhanced social entrepreneur programming, facilitated by a grant of $10M from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation of Bethesda, MD. Caslin has also been a Subject Matter Expert Witness for the United Nations, the U.S. Congress and The White House.

The GCSEN Foundation is an IRS-approved 501(c-3) not-for-profit organization, accelerating social entrepreneurship around the world.


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KKR Becomes Founding Signatory to Impact Investing Principles in Effort to Create Alignment across Industry

Press Release – NEW YORK, April 12, 2019 – KKR today announced that it has become a founding signatory to the Operating Principles for Impact Management, a new market standard for impact investing introduced by the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group. KKR joins 59 other signatories, collectively representing over $350 billion in assets invested for impact, in their commitment to managing their impact investments in accordance with these Principles, which are meant to bring greater transparency, credibility, and discipline to the impact investing market.

IFC led the development of the Principles, in collaboration with leading asset managers, asset owners, asset allocators, development banks, and financial institutions, following a three-month public stakeholder consultation. The Principles aim to create clarity and consistency regarding what constitutes managing investments for impact in order to bolster confidence in the market.

Ken Mehlman, Co-Head of KKR Global Impact, joined fellow signatories in Washington, DC, today for the global launch of the Principles. He commented: “For the last decade, we have sought to learn from leaders in sustainability as we have made our journey. The IFC has been leading impact investors for many years and we look forward to learning from their thinking, as well as from other stakeholders who are committed to investing for positive impact and shared value.”

Over the last decade, KKR has been a leader in driving and protecting value throughout the firm’s private markets portfolio through thoughtful Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) management, as well as measuring and reporting on performance to the public and investors. The firm also has a history of investing in businesses that promote sustainable solutions to societal challenges.

This experience of responsible investment combined with a changing landscape of global challenges led to KKR’s decision to create a dedicated Global Impact business in 2018. KKR’s Global Impact strategy focuses on identifying and investing behind businesses with positive social or environmental impact that measurably contribute solutions to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. KKR’s alignment with the Operating Principles for Impact Management, which you can read more about here, will build on this strategy.

About KKR

KKR is a leading global investment firm that manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate and credit, with strategic partners that manage hedge funds. KKR aims to generate attractive investment returns for its fund investors by following a patient and disciplined investment approach, employing world-class people, and driving growth and value creation with KKR portfolio companies. KKR invests its own capital alongside the capital it manages for fund investors and provides financing solutions and investment opportunities through its capital markets business. References to KKR’s investments may include the activities of its sponsored funds. For additional information about KKR & Co. Inc. (NYSE:KKR), please visit KKR’s website at www.kkr.com and on Twitter @KKR_Co.


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The Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA Educational Foundation and Discovery Education Announce National Finalists for Third Annual ‘Operation Prevention’ Challenge

– Public Invited to Vote for the 2019 People’s Choice Winner to Win Exclusive DEA Training Academy Tour –

Silver Spring, Md. (Friday, April 12, 2019) – The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the DEA Educational Foundation, and Discovery Education, the leading provider of standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms, today announced 10 national 2019 Operation Prevention Video Challenge finalists. The third annual Operation Prevention Video Challenge – a peer-to-peer platform for communicating messages about the dangers of opioid misuse – invites educators, students, teen advocates and communities to vote for the People’s Choice winner through April 25, 2019. The ten finalists’ videos can be viewed here.

“Educators, families and community leaders must work together to help stem the opioid epidemic and DEA is proud to work alongside Discovery Education to encourage life-saving conversations about drug-free living through ‘Operation Prevention’,” said Sean Fearns, chief of community outreach, DEA. “We’re excited to continue engaging youth in the 2019 ‘Operation Prevention Video Challenge’ because we have seen first-hand the positive impacts of active and direct engagement with students across the country.”

An extension of Discovery Education and the DEA’s Operation Prevention program, the video challenge encourages teens to create a 30-60 second original public service announcement that alerts other students about the dangers of prescription opioid misuse and heroin use. Overall, the challenge aims to inspire teens to research the opioid epidemic, identify its widespread impact on the country and the substances’ harmful effects on the body and start a social movement that encourages authentic dialogue about this critical issue. Operation Prevention resources are available at no-cost at operationprevention.com and within Discovery Education Streaming Plus, an award-winning comprehensive digital service supplementing instruction across all K-12 curricular areas. Discovery Education Streaming Plus empowers educators to create dynamic learning environments that mirror students’ use of technology outside the classroom.

“‘Operation Prevention’ is an incredible program to have as a resource at a time when prescription opioid misuse and heroin use have reached epidemic levels in the United States,” said Rodney Crouse, Guilford County Schools educator from Trinity, North Carolina. “The program helps me educate my students about the science behind addiction and its impact on the brain and body. And more importantly, the initiative helps our community promote lifesaving discussions from our neighborhood corners to our classrooms.”

The top 10 finalist videos have now been uploaded to operationprevention.com for a public vote to determine the People’s Choice winner. Monetary prizes for the top three student winners will be provided by the DEA Educational Foundation. The grand prize will be granted a trip for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of DEA agent training at the DEA’s Training Academy in Quantico, Va. Several other prize winners will also be chosen by a panel of judges from Discovery Education, the DEA, and the DEA Educational Foundation, as well as community leaders, educators and communications experts. The grand prize winner will receive $10,000, the second-place winner will receive $5,000 and the third-place winner will receive $1,000. Winning PSAs will also be featured on-air, and across Discovery Education and DEA digital platforms.

The top 10 finalists include, (in alphabetical order):

Andrew Detar, Brendan Purdy and Joshua Milteer for “The Dark Path”

South Fayette Township High School, McDonald, Pa. (South Fayette Township School District)

Aria Kydd for “Think Again”

Massachusetts Academy of Math and Science, Worcester, Mass.

Bailey Chin for “Take a Stand”

Bishop Kenny High School, Jacksonville, Fla. (Guntersville City School District)

Cooper Dyce and Wilson Sarina for “Walking Alone”
Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood, Colo. (Cherry Creek School District 5)

Dalton Sherrill, Jackson Hamm, Yanely Luna and Brian Wang for “What Could Have Been”
Coffee County Central High School, Manchester, Tenn. (Coffee County School District)

Jake Sandvik for “Wanna”

Cody High School, Cody, Wyo. (Park County School District 6)

Jordan Walk and Anna Klein for “911”
Twin Valley High School, Elverson, Pa. (Twin Valley School District)

Mia Lazar and Ava Lazar for “The Shadows of Addiction”

Blacksburg High School, Blacksburg, Va. (Montgomery County Public Schools)

Olivia Humphries for “Opioids: The Real Horror Story”
McIntosh County Academy in Darien, Ga. (McIntosh County School District)

Sebastian Nazario for “Same Path”
Middletown High School in Middleton, Conn. (Middletown Public Schools)

Last year’s winning PSA, titled Waiting to Die by Porter Christensen of Pine View High School in Utah’s Washington County School District, was one of the hundreds of original submissions the challenge received. To view entries from finalists and winners of the 2018 Operation Prevention Video Challenge, visit here.

“The ‘Operation Prevention Video Challenge’ is effective – it helps us meet young people where they are. Through peer-to-peer influence, the initiative sparks life-saving conversations about the dangers of opioid misuse and encourages youth to embrace drug-free living,” said Lori McFarling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Discovery Education. “We believe in the power of collaboration, that’s why Discovery Education is proud to support the critical work of the DEA to build strong bridges in communities that work to help save young lives.”

Vote for the 3rd Annual Video Challenge winner from April 11, 2019, at 5:00 p.m., through April 25, 2019, at 5:00 p.m. ET, online at operationprevention.com. United States high school students, ages 13 and older, can vote and learn more about the Operation Prevention here.

“Youth connecting with their peers is one of the most impactful ways to combat the dangers of opioid abuse. Because teens are all navigating the same world of feeling immortal yet fragile, while experiencing fascination and facing peer pressure, they are able to engage in authentic exchanges that resonate well with each other,” said Jill L. Roberts, senior vice president, DEA Educational Foundation. “Teens understand the mindset of their peers and create the most thought-provoking narratives to highlight the ultimate risks of falling victim drug misuse and abuse.”

Operation Prevention is a nationwide program that educates students about the science behind addiction, and its impact on the brain and body. Standards-aligned Operation Prevention interactive resources help promote lifesaving discussions in the home and classroom. Program resources are accessible for free online and also through Discovery Education Streaming Plus.

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital curriculum content and professional development services, visit discoveryeducation.com. Stay connected through social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @DiscoveryEd.


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IIX Awarded S$1.2M From Australian Government To Develop Ecosystem For Gender Lens Investing In Asia

Press Release – SINGAPORE, 11 April 2019Impact Investment Exchange (IIX) – a global organization dedicated to building a more inclusive world through innovative finance and support for high-impact enterprises – has been awarded S$1.2M from the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) to develop the ecosystem for gender lens investing in Asia. With a decade of experience building the impact investing market and driving women’s empowerment across the world, IIX will leverage its ecosystem and gender-focused approach to support the growth of 500 impact enterprises across Asia.

Durreen Shahnaz, CEO and Founder of IIX, said: “Despite Asia’s astonishing wealth and growth potential, underserved women remain one of the most vulnerable populations and continue to be excluded from a dignified life. At the same time, empowering women is the most effective way to build a more inclusive, peaceful and prosperous world where growth works for everyone. Gender lens investing is a powerful solution to shift deeply embedded dynamics from treating women as victims to valuing them as solution-builders. Through our partnership with DFAT, IIX is taking our work to the next level by enabling everyone to play a role in building inclusive markets.”

IIX’s program, called Equity@Scale, is funded under DFAT’s Frontier Brokers initiative—which focuses on addressing key weaknesses in the current entrepreneurial ecosystem and moving capital to impact enterprises. Through Equity@Scale, IIX will support impact enterprises with three types of capital: human capital in the form of investment readiness training; social capital in the form of access to mentoring and corporate networks; and financial capital in the form of access to investors and private sector equity and debt investments.

With an emphasis on shifting gendered power dynamics in favor of women entrepreneurs and accelerating the growth of gender-lens investing, Equity@Scale will incentivize impact enterprises to integrate women throughout their value chain. The program will also provide impact investing ecosystem players (including investors, foundations, banks, financial service providers, lawyers, corporate partners, and mentors) with the tools and resources to apply a gender-lens to their business approaches, processes and strategies of engagement.

IIX works with women-led impact enterprises like Green Enterprises Indonesia, which operates an organic virgin coconut oil model to empower local communities with sustainable livelihoods, improve the economic viability of organic coconut farms and reforestation, enhance biodiversity, and save sea turtles from poaching

Shahnaz continued: “As a woman entrepreneur, I started IIX with the vision to bring women and underserved communities to the forefront of financial markets. I witnessed first-hand how women-led and women-focused businesses face challenges to growth at every turn and realized that to change this we need to move beyond fragmented solutions and create long-term pathways for change. For nearly a decade IIX has been building these pathways through a unique ecosystem approach—supporting entrepreneurs with impact assessments, technical assistance and our award-winning ACTS accelerator program; connecting them to investors through our Impact Partners crowdfunding platform; creating innovative financial products such as the Women’s Livelihood Bond™ that unlock greater private capital and amplify public resources; and sharing our experiences and methodologies with ecosystem players.”

Gender lens investing refers to the use of finance to create gender equity by incorporating a gender analysis into investment decisions, with the intention to improve outcomes for women. According to GIIN, interest in gender lens investing is increasing in Southeast Asia. [1] IIX’s Equity@Scale program will accelerate conscious investment into women’s empowerment by broadening mainstream definitions of gender lens investing to include those investments which go into companies and initiatives that benefit underserved women (defined as low-income, rural, and minority women) in emerging markets. IIX’s Women’s Livelihood Bond™ (WLB1) – the world’s first impact investment product listed on a stock exchange reporting social and financial returns – is an innovative financial product that paves the way for large-scale mainstream investment in women’s empowerment. With the success of the WLB1, IIX has partnered with USAID, DFAT, DBS Bank, Shearman & Sterling LLP, Latham & Watkins LLP, and Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas for the Women’s Livelihood Bond™ 2 (WLB2) that will unlock over US$100 million of private sector capital to impact one million women across Asia.

Women in Asia are on average 70% less likely than men to be employed, and face a 30-40% gender wage gap. Closing the gender gap in Asia could generate a 30% increase in the per capita income of the average Asian economy in one generation. [2] While impact enterprises play a critical role in addressing gender equality and sustainable development issues, they face barriers in accessing resources and capital to grow. This issue is compounded for women-owned businesses across the developing countries, with an estimated 70% of the 7 million women-owned SMEs in the formal sector unserved or underserved by financial institutions. [3]

About IIX

IIX is a global organization transforming the world through a new approach to sustainable peace. To achieve sustainable peace, we must address the root causes of inequality and injustice in the world today that lead to conflict. We believe that peace must be built by valuing and empowering everyone – especially those excluded from existing systems – to be a part of the solution for a sustainable future. Over the past decade, we have built the world’s largest crowdfunding platform for impact investing, Impact Partners, created innovative financial products such as the Women’s Livelihood Bond™, operated award-winning enterprise technical assistance programs such as IIX ACTS, and established an Impact Institute for training and education. The basis of all this work – connecting the financial markets with impact – is IIX’s proprietary Impact Assessment which is now widely used across Asia. To date, IIX’s work has spanned 46 countries, unlocked almost $110 million of private sector capital to support 140+ enterprises, avoided over 1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and impacted 77 million direct and household lives. IIX has received numerous awards for its work including the Oslo Business for Peace Award, the ‘Nobel Prize for Business.’ Learn more at: iixglobal.com

[1] https://thegiin.org/assets/GIIN_SEAL_full_digital_webfile.pdf
[2] https://www.adb.org/publications/women-workforce-unmet-potential-asia-and-pacific
[3] https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/topics_ext_content/ifc_external_corporate_site/sustainability-at-ifc/publications/publications_report_accesstofinanceforwomensmes


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Responsibility.org’s Ask, Listen, Learn Program and Discovery Education Uncover the Science Behind How Alcohol Affects Developing Brains, Bodies and Behavior During Alcohol Responsibility Month

– Students and Educators Join Ask, Listen, Learn Twitter Chat April 11th to Celebrate Launch of New Partnership –

Press Release – Silver Spring, Md. (Wednesday, April 10, 2019) – To turn awareness into action this Alcohol Responsibility Month, Responsibility.org’s Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program, the most widely-distributed underage drinking prevention program of its kind, and Discovery Education, the leading provider of standards-aligned digital curriculum resources, engaging content, and professional learning for K-12 classrooms, today announced a new partnership aimed at educating students about the negative effects of underage drinking on the developing brain.

To kickoff conversations in classrooms nationwide around this topic, Ask, Listen, Learn and Discovery Education will be hosting a Digital Discussion on the Science and Impact of Alcohol on Developing Brains, Bodies, and Behavior – a day of online engagement dedicated to equipping students in grades 5-7 with the knowledge and tools to say “YES” to a healthy lifestyle and “NO” to underage drinking by releasing a series of new lesson plans and videos for the classroom.

“We are thrilled to be working with Discovery Education – and this event comes just in time for Alcohol Responsibility Month,” said Executive Director of Responsibility.org Dr. Ben Nordstrom. “Meeting educators and students where they are and offering additional science- and evidence-based resources about the developing brain will make a difference in the smart choices kids make to live a healthy lifestyle and to say ‘NO’ to underage drinking.”

On April 11, follow #BrainBodyBehavior on Twitter as teachers, school nurses, school counselors, and other subject-matter-experts discuss how to teach kids about the impacts of underage drinking on their developing brains, bodies, and behavior. A portion of the day will be dedicated to unveiling three digital, no-cost, standards-aligned lesson plans, a family resource guide, and three corresponding videos featuring five-time gold medalist swimmer, Nathan Adrian. Experts including Responsibility.org Educational Advisory Board member and founder of the blog Tech Savvy Mama Leticia Barr, school counselor and author of the book Middle School Matters Phyllis Fagell, Discovery Education’s STEM expert Cindy Moss, educators and athletes from Classroom Champions – including co-founder and three time Olympian Steve Mesler – and a team of Ask, Listen, Learn Ambassadors will lend their voices to discuss this new content and engage with educators and students in real-time. Educators are encouraged to share photos and videos of their class or ask experts their questions about how to talk to kids about living a healthy lifestyle using #BrainBodyBehavior.

Join us on Twitter for the digital discussion using #BrainBodyBehavior for the following sessions:
10 a.m. ET – “The Science Behind the Effects of Alcohol on Your Brain”
12 p.m. ET – “Treat your Body like a Top Athlete”
2 p.m. ET – “Informed Students Make Better Healthier Decisions”

Be the first to explore these new, no-cost resources from Ask, Listen, Learn in partnership with Discovery Education at DiscoverBrainBodyBehavior.com.

“Discovery Education is committed to the advancement of healthy lifestyles and development of whole children as they learn and grow. This Alcohol Responsibility Month we are proud to partner with Responsibility.org’s Ask, Listen, Learn program to engage students in meaningful conversations about the dangers of underage drinking and to encourage healthy lifestyles in schools and communities nationwide,” said Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Discovery Education Lori McFarling. “By empowering educators with science-based digital resources that help them build student mastery, we are providing young learners with the tools they need to jumpstart healthy futures.”

Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix, the underage drinking prevention program for kids ages 9-12 from Responsibility.org, provides free, evidence-based and standards-aligned lesson plans for educators. The program utilizes innovative science lessons and videos to teach kids what the brain does, what alcohol does to it, and what that can do to them. The program’s skills-based approach teaches kids about communication, decision-making, accessing appropriate resources, and advocating for themselves and their peers. Ask, Listen, Learn also has a suite of resources for parents to use to start conversations at home to prevent underage drinking.

Prevention specialists, educators and parents play a critical role in empowering students by giving them the confidence kids need to say “NO” to drinking underage. Since 2003, underage drinking has declined 50% (Monitoring the Future, 2016), and conversations between parents and their kids about alcohol have increased 73% (Responsibility.org, 2016).

“Informed students make better decisions. It’s vital for me to teach my students the science behind how alcohol affects their brains, bodies, and behavior to empower them to lead healthy lives,” said Rodney Crouse, Falkener Elementary School Educator from Greensboro, North Carolina. “Ask, Listen, Learn equips my students with immersive digital curriculum resources, and a deep dive into data and facts, that are critical to them comprehensively understanding the impacts of underage drinking. In no uncertain terms, this initiative is helping me create a healthy future for my students.”

All of the Ask, Listen, Learn resources are accessible for free at asklistenlearn.org. For more information about the Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program, visit asklistenlearn.org. Stay connected with Ask, Listen, Learn through social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, and Responsibility.org on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

For more information about Discovery Education’s digital curriculum content and professional development services, visit discoveryeducation.com. Stay connected with Discovery Education through social media on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @DiscoveryEd.


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2019 “TeenDrive365” Finalists Announced In National PSA Challenge

— Public Can Vote Online to Select “People’s Choice” Winner through April 23 —

Press Release – Silver Spring, Md. (Tuesday, April 9, 2019) – More than a thousand videos created by teens to inspire their peers to drive more safely and avoid risky behavior were submitted in the TeenDrive365 Video Challenge by Toyota and Discovery Education. Now down to the Top 10, it’s time for the public to watch and vote for their favorite video at teendrive365inschool.com/vote through April 23, 2019.

In addition to the People’s Choice winner, several other prize winners will be chosen by a panel of judges comprised of community leaders, educators, communications experts and Toyota representatives.

“Toyota and Discovery Education have partnered for a decade to bring critical safety information to students in communities across the country, helping to ensure that drivers and passengers understand safe driving practices at every phase of life,” said Al Smith, group vice president, Toyota Social Innovation. “We thank all of the students from across the country who joined in spreading the message of safe driving in a unique and impactful way, and we encourage the public to vote on their favorite choice.”

This year’s finalists come from Florida, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia.

The full list of TeenDrive365 Video Challenge prizes, include:

  • Grand Prize: $15,000 and the chance to work with a Discovery Education film crew to reshoot the winning video as a TV-ready PSA
  • Second place prize: $10,000
  • Third place prize: $7,500
  • Fourth to tenth place prizes: Each receives $2,500
  • Four regional prizes: Each receives $1,000
  • People’s Choice prize: $5,000

“Sparking a national conversation about driver safety in schools, the TeenDrive365 Video Challenge has empowered students to use their creativity and ingenuity to inspire others to make responsible choices behind the wheel,” said Lori McFarling, senior vice president and chief marketing officer, Discovery Education.

Last year’s grand prize went to Kirklin “Mack” Hopkins and Kellen Stadler of Charlotte, N.C. Their video It’s Not Fine delivered a direct and powerful narrative that highlights the dangers of distracted driving and the ability of teens to encourage safe driving behavior. The re-created PSA can be viewed here.

“The ‘TeenDrive365 initiative’ offers educators and families digitally immersive resources such as activities, interactives, quizzes, videos, and virtual field trips to help begin a discussion about safety with young drivers,” said Rita Mortenson, educational technology coach, Verona Area School District, Verona, Wisc. “These resources allow schools to positively impact their communities and peers by accepting the challenge to educate and empower others about driver safety.”

Toyota TeenDrive365 resources are available at no-cost and within Discovery Education Streaming Plus, which empowers educators to create dynamic learning environments that mirror students’ use of technology outside the classroom. Visit TeenDrive365.com to learn more about the annual Video Challenge to help promote safe teen driving. For more information about the TeenDrive365 Video Challenge or to watch winning videos from the 2017-2018 challenge, click here.


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IRRI, WorldFish, and IWMI Commit To A Food System Transformation In Southeast Asia

Press Release – 09 April 2019, LOS BANOS, LAGUNA: WorldFish, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) signed a five-year tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) today. The agreement provides a framework for cooperation on research for development (R4D) initiatives focused on the sustainable intensification and management of rice-fish production systems in irrigated landscapes and wetlands in Southeast Asia.

The agreement aligns with the CGIAR 2030 Plan which calls for transformations of its research programs to usher in a “food systems revolution” to tackle challenges related to sustainability, nutrition, genetics, socio-economics, and information and to contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through greater cooperation between Centers.

WorldFish Director General Dr. Gareth Johnstone shared that the multi-agency partnership provides a strategic push for wider research, promotion, and implementation of integrated rice-fish systems and builds on previous successes of WorldFish and its partners.

“This partnership helps create better synergies for leveraging our individual research expertise and network strengths to accelerate the sustainable supply of nutritious fish and rice into national, regional, and global food systems. Together, we will also be able to better support regional cooperation by increasing awareness, disseminating knowledge, and scaling critical solutions for this intensification to be truly sustainable.”

Previous individual and joint program partnerships involving IRRI, WorldFish, and IWMI have yielded positive results. Among them include the CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (2004), and an earlier project on fish-rice between IRRI and WorldFish with Bangladesh research and non-profit agencies.

More recently, WorldFish, IRRI, and IWMI came together for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR)-funded Development of Rice Fish Systems (RFS) in the Ayeyarwady Delta project. The project aims to improve the productivity and profitability of rice-fish systems in Myanmar and seeks to benefit small-scale rice farming households, and fishers by diversifying production in rice-based farming systems and landscapes, enhancing resilience of rice-based farming systems.

“This agreement exemplifies a food systems approach to transforming the global rice sector. The combined global research expertise and influence of IRRI, WorldFish, and IWMI in the core elements of diets such as rice and fish, as well as land and water systems make this strategic collaboration essential to a food systems revolution,” said IRRI’s Director General Dr. Matthew Morell.

IMWI’s work on sustainable water and land use converges well with IRRI’s work on landscape-level water management and environmental sustainability.

“What we aim to achieve as individual organizations is interconnected and geared toward the fulfillment of almost the same SDGs. We envision a sustainable food, nutrition, and water secure world and this strategic partnership gets us closer to that goal,” said IMWI Deputy Director General – Research for Development, Mark Smith.

Under the MoU, IRRI, WorldFish, and IWMI will co-develop and implement R4D activities to discover the impact of rice-fish production systems on environmental, socio-economic, and cultural values on land and waterways. The R4D projects will be developed based on themes which include constructed water bodies, rice-fish landscapes, climate resilience and water, trade-offs and foresight analysis, and ICT and big data.


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