Veronica Palmer (Los Angeles ’06) and Milagros Barsallo (Colorado ’09) of RISE Colorado – 2014 Social Innovation Award Winner.
Seven years ago, Teach For America launched its Social Entrepreneurship & Innovation Initiative to support our alumni choosing to make an impact through education entrepreneurship. In our first four years, we saw the development of many successful alumni-led ventures, contributing to a burgeoning global community of innovative educators challenging P-12’s status quo by expanding educational access in low-income communities.
In 2011, we began to realize that we could (and should) play a more active role in accelerating the growth of those alumni-led ventures most transformative for students in low-income communities.The Alumni Social Innovation Award was created to challenge our alumni entrepreneurs to solve the most persistent problems contributing towards educational inequity. With the generous financial support of The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, The Doris & Donald Fisher Fund, and Joyce and Larry Stupski , the annual award invests up to $100,000 in these ventures and provides strategic coaching for the alumni entrepreneurs growing them.
Now in its third year, the Award has invested $450,000 in 11 alumni-led ventures. Our number of applications received has increased by 166 percent over the inaugural year – growing our alumni entrepreneur community to over 300. Our inaugural winner, T. Morgan Dixon (Metro Atlanta Corps ’00), recently won the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship. Last year’s winner, Elliot Sanchez (Greater New Orleans Corps ’08), was recently named as one of Forbes’ “30 Under 30 in Education.” Award winners, finalists, and semifinalists have impacted thousands of students, families, and communities, and they have asserted themselves as changemakers working relentlessly towards a world where no child will be deprived of an equitable, just, and excellent education.
Building on this impact, it is with great pleasure that I introduce to you our winners. Winners participated in three rounds of due diligence over a five month period, engaging in a process that invested 141 alumni applicants and 66 internal and external judges. Their ventures have the potential to produce game-changing impact on behalf of the students, families, and communities we serve, and we are proud to both honor and invest in them.