Introducing the 2006 Social Capitalist Award winners ‑ 25 entrepreneurs solving the world's toughest problems with creativity ingenuity, and passion. Because they can't stand a vacuum.
January 2006
By Cheryl Dahle
Photographs by Mary Ellen Mark

Our Annual Social Capitalist Award. 25 ENTREPRENEURS WHO ARE CHANGING THE WORLD.

CEO Earl Martin Phalen of award winner BELL.

FORT WASHINGTON, MARYLAND: Tori and Amber Snow share new books that they received from First Book

FIRST BOOK  Washington, DC • President: Kyle Zimmer • • Previous winner: 2004, 2005
What it does
: First Book says there's one simple, proven way to boost kids' reading scores: increase the number of books in the home. So it works to help low‑income children own and read their first books. Its powerful, technology‑driven pipeline delivers books from publishers to literacy programs. And its National Book Bank solicits donations of books that otherwise would be destroyed to cut warehousing costs.
Results: In 13 years, First Book has delivered more than 35 million books. The organization serves 13,000 literacy programs and has started First Book Literacy Registry, an online campaign to reach 300,000 literacy programs.
Social Impact: A • Aspiration and Growth: A‑ • Entrepreneurship: A+ • Innovation: A • Sustainability: B

ACCION INTERNATIONAL  Boston, Massachusetts • President and CEO: Maria Otero • . Previous winner: 2004, 2005
What it does
: ACCION International has developed a network of microlending institutions that provide the poor with loans as small as $100 in order to start their own businesses. ACCION not only shares best practices to help partners reach a wider pool of clients, but it also helps them grow by diversifying into home‑improvement loans, education loans, and insurance, among other services.
Results: ACCION's network, operating in 23 countries, boasts a repayment rate of 97% on some $7.6 billion of loans to 4.7 million people.
Social Impact: A+ Aspiration and Growth: B+ • Entrepreneurship: A‑ • Innovation: A • Sustainability: A

SANGOLQUI, ECUADOR: Elizabeth and Victoria Diaz started a market stand with help from ACCION International.

The entrepreneurial mind abhors a vacuum. Market failures, unmet demand, even the maddening lure of a blank napkin ‑ all beckon as explicit invitations to invent. What defines an entrepreneur (as well as an entrepreneurial organization) is that relentless problem‑solving approach, not the specifics of the problem itself.

We typically associate such ingenuity with the transformation of problems into lucrative, shareholder‑enriching companies. But the entrepreneurs you'll meet in this story are responding to a different sort of void. It could be the absence of medical diagnostic labs in the developing world, which is driving one organization to create a portable, disposable lab that fits on a plastic card. Or it's the empty shelves of a Nepalese children's library, which inspired another man to start an education juggernaut, building nearly as many new libraries each week as Starbucks opens latte‑slinging storefronts.

These problems might exist outside the traditionally defined realm of business, but the solutions are elegant, creative, and entrepreneurial to their core. They're at the heart of the third annual Social Capitalist Awards, a joint effort by FAST COMPANY and Monitor Group, the global consulting firm, to seek out and evaluate the cream of entrepreneurial organizations in the social sector.

Like their counterparts in the profit‑driven world, our 25 winning organizations ‑ winnowed from 278 nominations with the help of 43 experts ‑ are masters at envisioning products and services that don't yet exist, marshaling resources, and crafting solutions that deeply affect their customers. The results these nonprofit organizations deliver hinge on business acumen and often reflect strategies that their for-profit brethren would do well to imitate.

Earl Martin Phalen, the founder of winner BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life), came face‑to-face with his inspiring vacuum while still a student at Harvard Law School. Phalen and several classmates volunteered for a mentoring program in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He remembers telling the kids, most of them from low‑income African‑American and Latino families, that anything was possible, including going to college. But when he and his law‑school buddies sat down to help the students with homework, they realized the kids were years behind aca­demically. "We left there really devastated," he says.

Phalen, an African‑American born into the state's foster‑care system, decided to do something about it. With a grant of $12,500 and a promise from his adoptive parents to cover his rent if he went broke, he launched BELL, a rigorous after‑school and summer program for kindergarten through sixth grade, out of his Boston living room in 1992. Today, the organization serves about 7,000 kids in four cities. Eighty-two percent of them read at grade level or better, despite having started the program typically more than a year behind in reading skills. Phalen's key insight - the need for a tightly knit web of volunteer mentors, parents, tutors, and teachers to support kids ‑ was derived from his own experience. "That drives me," he says. "To know that somebody [supported] me, and all of a sudden, it took my life from going to jail to going to Yale."

Our winners live in that opportunity gap, in the liminal space between jail and Yale. They know that they are always just one investor, or one good idea, or one great execution plan away from making a difference in a world measured in lives changed. (And they measure that difference with a rigor that would make a bean‑counter proud.)

What follows is a look at the compelling solutions that organizations like BELL have invented, refined, and scaled to stunning effect, and the impact they produce on the ground for individuals and communities. Ultimately, these Social Capitalists offer a different model for harnessing creativity. They also offer a seed of hope that the world's most intractable social problems will yet find their match in the inexorable drive of the entrepreneur.


Some of the world's direst needs for technological invention go unmet because the people who would benefit are poor. PATH, based in Seattle, confronts that market failure by driving low‑cost technology for the developing world through partnerships with companies, governments, and other nonprofits. Not only a Social Capitalist winner, PATH was also selected by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a partner in our competition, as an Outstanding Social Entrepreneur.

PATH's simple, life‑saving solutions, such as clean birthing kits and disposable vaccination syringes that prevent reuse, belie the diligence and expertise required to produce these sorts of solutions routinely. In Zambia, where malaria causes 40% of deaths among children under age 5, PATH is part of a $35 million partnership to broaden use of simple malaria-prevention techniques such as insecticide‑treated bed nets. "We think that if we can take the existing malaria-prevention tools to scale, we could reduce deaths by as much as 75% in the next three to five years," says PATH president Christopher Elias.

Then there is the "lab on a card" project, which promises one day to let health workers in poor nations diagnose the cause of a fever or diarrhea within minutes by injecting a few drops of bodily fluid into a credit‑card‑sized test kit. Originally funded for defense purposes to address bioterrorism, the technology is perfect for diagnosis in the developing world, which lacks labs with multimillion-dollar equipment and where patients typically can't wait overnight (or days) at a clinic for a diagnosis.

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Jose and Maria Perez in the home they bought via New Community Corp.

NEW COMMUNITY CORP. Newark, New Jersey  -  Founder: Monsignor William J. Linder  -
What it does
: Founded in the wake of the 1967 Newark riots, New Community Corp. started as a housing agency, but it has expanded its reach to nearly every aspect of life for the city's low‑income residents. Teaming up with local businesses and universities, it’s the cities ninth-largest nongovernmental employer. It owns nearly 3,000 housing units and has developed programs that include nurse and automotive training, literacy, welfare transition, health care, senior care, and charter schools.
Results: New Community employs 1,600 people; its housing shelters 7,000; and its programs affect the lives of more than 50,000 residents each year.
Social Impact: A- • Aspiration and Growth: B • Entrepreneurship: B+ • Innovation: B • Sustainability: A-

OTAVA LO, ECUADOR: Juana Cabascango and Luis Leon bought a piglet with aid from Heifer International.

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL  Little Rock, Arkansas • President and CEO: Jo Luck •
What it does: Heifer provides livestock to poor families in developing nations to use for farming, food production, and fertilization. It also teaches animal husbandry and skills for flexible and sustainable rural farming. The idea: Self‑sufficiency is a better long‑term solution than handouts for fighting hunger. Heifer's Passing on the Gift program requires recipients to share the offspring of their animals as well as resources and skills with other farmers, creating an ever‑expanding network of self‑reliance.
Results: Heifer served more than 3.1 million people in 2004 and hopes to extend its reach to more than 16.6 million by 2008.
Social Impact: A • Aspiration and Growth: A • Entrepreneurship: B+ • Innovation: B • Sustainability: A-­

The card employs "microfluidics," which miniaturizes the necessary chemical reactions, making the process both faster and possible with tiny sample amounts. PATH has worked with a company called Micronics Inc., the University of Washington in Seattle, and Washington University in St. Louis to adapt the technology to illnesses common in the developing world and to redesign the card so it can withstand harsh storage and transport conditions. Field trials are expected within two years.

Across the globe, Phalen's BELL program is addressing a market failure of a different sort: a lack of consistent educational support for low‑income kids in the United States. What makes the program so successful? Many students stick with it from kindergarten through sixth grade, getting seven years of mentoring, academic support, and exposure to positive role models during critical development years. Volunteer mentors, who include doctors, lawyers, and community leaders, reflect students' own cultural backgrounds. The program divides students into clusters of eight to maximize individual attention. And the screening process for teachers and tutors is extremely rigorous.

The results: All 20 of the students in BELL's first class went onto college. And on a personal level, there are stories like that of Robert Berryman II, a third grader at Mattahunt Middle School outside Boston. Robert has mild autism, as well as attention‑deficit disorder and delayed speech skills. He entered the program at BELL two years ago ‑ and in the time since, his father, Robert Sr., has noticed drastic changes.

"He's opened up more," Berryman says. "Before, he wouldn't talk. Now, you have to say, 'Robert, wait a minute please.'” Robert, wearing a bright whit polo shirt and a grin, still has some speech troubles, but he is eager to answer questions, looking a visitor directly in the eye. "I like doing homework," he says, adding that his favorite school activity is tackling the narrative "story problems" in math class.

Berryman marvels as he watches his son. "Specialists, they say this isn't the same child," he says.


Heifer International was founded in 1944 by a former relief worker who began sending milk cows overseas to give hungry people devastated by war a source of ongoing sustenance rather than a hand out: "Not a cup, but a cow" was the idea. In the more than 60 years since, it has evolved into a powerful, integrated, and rapidly growing development model that promotes ecologically sound agricultural strategy, poverty alleviation, and gender equity in 50 countries by giving families livestock (or the means to buy it) and teaching them how to use that gift to enhance their livelihoods.

Key to Heifer's success is the requirement that each family "pass on the gift" by giving the offspring of an animal to another needy family. On average, that gift is passed on for more than six livestock generations, helping lift entire communities out of poverty, says Tom Peterson, Heifer's vice president of communications and marketing. "We visited a village in Mexico in the mid‑1990s where Heifer had done some work a decade earlier," he recalls. "And this community was still passing on the gift. We met the man who had been given the original cow, and by then, he had 17 cows and a small dairy‑farm business."

Before any project begins, or any animal or seed is donated, Heifer first requires a proposal from a group that already has organized for change. When floods caused by El Niño wiped out crops near the Portoviejo River valley in northwest Ecuador in 1998, Emilio Posligua Salvatierra and others from his community needed aid to rebuild. But the group had to
conceive a plan and get the community to support it.

Posligua Salvatierra, then 25, admits that "at first, not everyone wanted to be involved. Many thought we were crazy." You can hardly blame them. The pIan included unfamiliar ideas such as the imple­mentation of "geomembranes," a woven mesh designed to prevent land erosion. Plus, as with all new projects, Heifer mandated that aid recipients agree to farm organically and commit to community improvement. Seven years later, though, Posligua Salvatierra's organization has grown to include 250 families and offers literacy programs and health seminars in addition to technical training on farming.

In nearby Cotacachi, Luis Alfredo Haro, 77, and his wife, Rosa, 63, have received Heifer loans and technical training to expand and improve their small farm. They have bought guinea pigs and materials to build a pen. In return they agreed to plant alfalfa to feed the animals, then use their manure for fertilizer. The guinea pigs are sold at the local market. The bargain has worked out well. The increase in crop yield is crucial in helping the Haros feed themselves, their laughter, and her 12 children. Rosa describes Heifer's role in her family's survival succinctly: "We never thought we could get this kind of help," she says. "If it weren't for Heifer, we'd have nothing at all."

Trafficking in books rather than livestock, First Book has built a similarly elegant model that has put more than 35 million children's books into kids' hands since its founding in 1992. Its technology-driven distribution channel uses donated warehouse space and exploits inefficiencies in the publishing industry to deliver cheap or free children's books to more than 15,000 community‑based literacy programs, while delivering real value and even profits to its corporate partners.

The organization's most recent innovation is First Book Marketplace, a Web site that connects publishers to the buying power of its network of nonprofits. First Book arranges and purchases whole press runs of children's books, which it then sells at discounted rate s ‑ and earns between 20 and 50 cents per book sold. Publishers get both access to new consumers and guaranteed sales up front. "There's profit, the books are nonreturnable, and it gives us market penetration in a market that we hardly touched before," says Susan Katz, president and publisher of HarperCollins Children's Books, who says she anticipates selling several hundred thousand books through Marketplace each year. "What's not to like?"

First Book cofounder and president Kyle Zimmer expects that Marketplace will eventually generate 30% of her organization's total revenue. She's planning expansion on other fronts as well. First Book is reaching out to the rest of the 300,000 literacy groups not already in its network through an online registry in hopes of expanding its customer base. It's all about filling more of that void. "Eighty percent of preschools serving this population of children do not have age-appropriate books," Zimmer says. "It's a whole new pie in terms of consumer market for us to serve and connect with our corporate partners.”

BRONX, NEW YORK: Batasala Andrade and her students work on literacy at a BELL after‑school program.

BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life) • Dorchester, Massachusetts • CEO Earl Martin Phalen
What it does: BELL’s after‑school and summer programs serve primary‑school student from mostly low-income families  The organization combines rigorous academics with creatively constructive activities, a culturally diverse curriculum, technology that tracks participants' progress, and a mentor system that introduces scholars to successful people ‑ from similar backgrounds.
Results: BELL supports about 7,000 “scholars” in four cities; 82% read at least at a “proficient” level, despite typically starting a year or more behind.
Social Impact: A‑ •  Aspiration and Growth: B+ • Entrepreneurship:  A •  Innovation: B •  Sustainability: A­

In 2004, Heifer International gave poor families 384,424 animals— including 6,616 pigs.

How We Did It: The method behind the social capitalists

The Pool: 278 nominations, 119 applicants, 53 finalists, 25 winners

The Application: Executive director's statement explaining mission and strategy; two years of audited financials and tax filings; a 35‑question survey regarding management, vision, and metrics; and (for finalists) a 90‑minute interview with the executive director.

The Team: The primary evaluation team consisted of 10 Monitor consultants. But we recruited 43 experts to help‑including 10 nominators and 28 panelists in fields ranging from international development to human rights to education reform. We also enlisted 5 leaders to select our winners from the finalists:

• Samantha Beinhacker, New Capital Consulting

• J. Gregory Dees, Duke University

• Cheryl Dorsey, Echoing Green Foundation

• David Gergen, Harvard University; former presidential adviser

• Jeffrey Hollender, Seventh Generation Inc.

The Criteria: We calculated 34 scores for various aspects of performance that fall into these five categories:

Social impact: The measurable social value created, whether absolute or per capita, and the demonstrated potential to stimulate systemic improvement in the creation and delivery of a social good.

Aspiration and growth: The desire and ability to achieve greater impact (both direct and systemic) over an extended period of time.

Entrepreneurship: The relentless discipline of galvanizing resources for social impact and exploiting the discontinuities created by change.

Innovation: The originality and strength of an organization's "big idea" and/or its business model.

Sustainability: The ability to maintain the social impact achieved through the organization's "big idea" over an extended period of time.

Making Comparisons: The age of each organization was taken into account in assigning scores, as was the type of organization: service-oriented, advocacy, etc. Scores were converted into letter grades.

Full Disclosure: Monitor Group has a long‑standing strategic relationship with New Profit Inc., a venture‑philanthropy fund that supports seven Social Capitalist Award winners. No one with a direct relationship to an NPI organization contributed to that group's scoring.


If there is one thing social entrepreneurs know, it is the power of entrepreneurship to unleash human potential. New Community Corp. was founded in Newark, New Jersey, in the wake of the 1967 riots, which killed 23 people, caused $15 million in damages, and left the city's central ward in tatters. Originally focused just on providing low-income housing, New Community has extended its reach to virtually every aspect of life: education, housing development, job training, senior services-- it even runs a popular jazz club. Teaming up with local businesses and universities, New Community is the city's ninth‑largest private employer.

Homeless with a 4‑year‑old daughter in 1998, Renee Wilson, 44, initially came into New Community's fold through Harmony House, a transitional program providing shelter, job training, and child care. About three years ago, she became interested in nursing while reading up on diseases when a friend who was HIV-positive became progressively sicker. "That's when my heart really went out," she says. Starting off as a certified nursing assistant for New Community's nursing home, she realized she eventually wanted to become a registered nurse.

Now living in her own apartment with her daughter, Wilson admits that through the nursing program, she has become a different person. "I was a spoiled brat. I grew up in one of the best homes, went to college for two and a half years, but somewhere along the line, I got sideswiped. Thank God I made it back.

ACCION International, a founder of the microfinance movement, helps the poor become entrepreneurs. It has built a network of microlending institutions, many of which it founded. These self-sustaining lenders provide poor clients with loans as small as $100 to start businesses.

In Los Olivos, a suburb north of Lima, Peru, rapid change is under way. On a hot day in October, the sun beats down from a bleached‑out sky. Unpaved roads are lined with cement block houses in various stages of construction. People build as they have money to buy supplies, so unfinished buildings stand as testaments to their ambition.

Edelmira Epifania, 55, is a resident of Los Olivos and a customer of Mibanco, a microfinance institution in ACCION's network with more than 135,000 active borrowers. She has worked all her life, often juggling more than one job. But it wasn't always enough to support her four children, and her husband's construction work wasn't always steady.

So she took out her first loan of 300 nuevo soles (less than $100) with Mibanco eight years ago to buy a food cart and supplies. During the day, she'd sell hamburgers and salchipapas (a dish of cut‑up hot dogs mixed with potatoes) before heading to a night job at a hospital. Four and a half years later, she had saved enough money to buy a plot of land and start building a drugstore, Las Boticas 24 Horas. Why a drugstore? "There wasn't one around at the time," she says. "I wanted to be the first."

Today, Epifania runs Las Boticas 24 Horas with occasional help from her children. She sleeps in the back room, and there's a bell out­side to signal when a customer comes calling, at whatever hour. Most of the money she earns goes into paying for the college education of her children.

Years ago, Epifania's father had his own cart, selling fruits and vegetables off the side of the road, and his income was barely enough to get by, let alone to send his children to college or own a business. Asked what her father, now deceased, would think about her owning a store, she blushes, her eyes dropping low, a wide smile breaking out.

When she looks up again, tears well up as she says, "He'd have been very happy."

Reporting by Alyssa Danigelis, Jena McGregor, Michael A. Prospero, and Jennifer Vilaga


TRANSFAIR USA • Oakland, California  •  President and CEO: Paul Rice  •  •   Previous winner: 2005

What it does: TransFair USA certifies “fair trade” products – coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar, and other foods produced without exploiting growers’ labor.  It also connects farmers’ cooperatives in Latin America. Asia, and Africa directly to U.S. distributors, eliminating middlemen who otherwise would capture a chunk of the profits. 
Results: Since 1999, TransFair has channeled more than $60 million in price premiums to farmers.  It estimates that every $1 invested has yielded $7 in income for fair-trade farmers.
Social Impact: A  •  Aspiration and growth: A-  •  Entrepreneurship: A+  •  Innovation: A-  •  Sustainability: A-


CITY YEAR • Boston, Massachusetts  •  CEO: Alan Khazei. President: Michael Brown  •  •   Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: City year recruits diverse teams of young adults for a year of volunteer service.  In 17 cities in the United States and South Africa, volunteers mentor and tutor in schools, organize after-school programs, and lead projects such as turning empty lots into playgrounds.  The goal: to inspire universal community service at the local level – the cornerstone, City Year believes, of a more engaged, democratic society.
Results: City Year has graduated 8,200 corps members since 1988, and a recent study found that alumni are more likely to vote and volunteer.
Social Impact: A  •  Aspiration and growth: A  •  Entrepreneurship: B+  •  Innovation: A  •  Sustainability: A-

HOUSING PARTNERSHIP NETWORK INC. • Boston, Massachusetts  •  President: Thomas Bledsoe  •  •   Previous winner:  2005

What it does: Stable homes form the foundation for secure lives in the economic mainstream – so Housing Partnership Network pools the money, influence, and resources of 84 affordable-housing groups to finance and build them.  It has created its own lending company and insurer, backed by leading financial institutions, to provide capital and offer reasonable insurance rates.
Results: Network members have developed more than 230,000 apartments and homes and financed another 250,000.  They’ve also counseled more than 250,000 families about home ownership.
Social Impact: B  •  Aspiration and growth: A  •  Entrepreneurship: B+  •  Innovation: A  •  Sustainability: B+

PIONEER HUMAN SERVICES • Seattle, Washington  •  President and CEO: Michael Burns  •
What it does: Pioneer helps “people on the margins of society” stay out of prison and off the streets through an integrated combination of services, including job training and placement, youth and family counseling, housing, and chemical-dependency treatment.  To fund its programs, it runs profitable businesses such as precision sheet metal fabrication, aerospace machining, and retail cafes.
Results: In 2004, Pioneer served more than 8,000 people; in all, its 48 sites in Washington have helped more than 100,000 former offenders, homeless people, and alcohol abusers.
Social Impact: A  •  Aspiration and growth: A  •  Entrepreneurship: B+  •  Innovation: A  •  Sustainability: A-

RUBICON PROGRAMS  Richmond, California  •  President: Richard Aubrey  •  •   Previous winner: 2004, 2005
What it does: Rubicon is a one-stop shop for those escaping poverty.  It not only helps clients find homes and jobs but also offers career, mental health, and family counseling, as well as technological training and money-management programs.  A gourmet bakery (now selling nationally online and at Costco stores) and landscaping business both employ clients and help pay Rubicon’s operating bills.
Results: In 2004, 500 Rubicon clients obtained housing and more than 460 found work.  Revenues from the organization’s for-profit enterprises now fund more than half of its $15.3 million annual budget.
Social Impact:
A-  •  Aspiration and growth: A-  •  Entrepreneurship: A  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: A


CITIZEN SCHOOLS • Boston, Massachusetts  •  CEO: Eric Schwarz  •  •   Previous winner: 2004

What it does: Citizen Schools runs after-school programs at 24 schools in 13 cities, staffed mostly by about 2,000 volunteer architects, attorneys, journalists and other professionals who use their passion to inspire students.  In 10-week apprenticeships, students work with volunteers to create market-quality products, such as Web sites.  The group hopes to expand to 100 schools and 8,000 volunteers within five years.
Results: Among more than 900 participants tracked in one study, 70% of eight graders enrolled in a college-track high school, compared with 46% of those in a control group.
Social Impact: B  •  Aspiration and growth: A-  •  Entrepreneurship: A-  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: B+

COLLEGE SUMMIT INC.  • Washington, DC  •  CEO: J.B. Schramm  •  •   Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: High-school seniors from low-income schools who get As enroll in college at the same rate as wealthy kids who get Ds.  College Summit aims to change that by training “peer leaders” to motivate and assist fellow students through the college application process.  It also works to inform colleges about the challenges students from underperforming schools face – and then facilitate college placements.
Results: Currently serving 72 schools and more than 6,000 students, College Summit hopes to expand nationwide by 2008 and to have the enrollment gap between low-income Americans and all students by 2009.
Social Impact: B+  •  Aspiration and growth: B+  •  Entrepreneurship: B  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: A-

TEACH FOR AMERICA • New York, New York  •  President: Wendy Kopp  •  •   

What it does: Teach for America runs a service corps of recent college graduates who are trained and placed for two years as teachers in low-income urban and rural public schools.  Smart, dedicated teachers, it believes, will go beyond traditional expectations.  But the real payoff is in the long term: TFA graduates, it hopes, will become lifelong leaders in expanding educational opportunity in the United States.
Results: TFA has 3,500 corps members teaching in more than 1,000 schools; a 2004 study found that students of corps members exceeded expectations in both math and reading.
Social Impact: A  •  Aspiration and growth: A  •  Entrepreneurship: A-  •  Innovation: A-  •  Sustainability: A

NEW LEADERS FOR NEW SCHOOLS • New York, New York  •  CEO: Jonathan Schnur  •  •   Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: Great Schools, New Leaders for New York believes, are led by great principals.  So it seeks to transform urban schools by selecting, training, and coaching, strong leaders – many from outside the school system – to be principals in six cities.  Just 6% of applicants are accepted; those “residents,” as they’re called, work with mentor principals for a year before running their own schools.
Results: More than two-thirds of New Leaders are placed as principals immediately after training.  After two years, Schools with New Leaders principals show gains 4% to 5% in math and reading proficiency.
Social Impact: A-  •  Aspiration and growth: A+  •  Entrepreneurship: A-  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: A+


RARE • Arlington, Virginia  •  President and CEO: Brett Jenks  •  •   Previous winner: 2004

What it does: In more than 40 countries, Rare inspires communities to care about their endangered surroundings with large-scale marketing campaigns and social-action projects.  Rare Radio funds radio soap operas to raise awareness about family planning and health care.  Rare Pride trains and employs local campaign managers in grassroots techniques to drive conservation efforts.
Results: Rare estimates it served more than 1.8 million people through 29 social marketing campaigns in 2004.  Mexico has called for rare campaigns to be implemented in all the countries national parks.
Social Impact: A-  •  Aspiration and growth: B  •  Entrepreneurship: A-  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: B


WITNESS  Brooklyn, New York  •  Executive Director: Gillian Caldwell  •  •   Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: Cofounded by musician Peter Gabriel, Witness provides 13 to 15 human rights “core partners” with video equipment, technical training, and support in production and editing – and then helps distribute the resulting footage.  It also provides training in the fundamentals in video advocacy to more than 300 social-justice organizations each year through workshops and collaborative projects.
Results: In 2004, Witness partner organizations produced 11 videos depicting rights abuses.  One induced Senegal’s minister of women’s and family affairs to pledge funding for female land-mine victims.
Social Impact: B+  •  Aspiration and growth: B  •  Entrepreneurship: B+  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: B+

WORKING TODAY  • Brooklyn, New York  •  Executive director: Sara Horowitz  •  •   Previous winner: 2004

What it does: A shift in the labor force toward “nontraditionall” employment has left 30 million freelancers, contractors, and temporary workers to fend for themselves.  Working Today provides New York’s growing independent workforce with health, life, and disability insurance at half what they would pay on their own.  It also works to educate policy makers and the public on the needs of independent workers.
Results: Working Today has more than 14,000 members, 8,000 of whom receive health insurance through its Portable Benefits Network.
Social Impact: B  •  Aspiration and growth: A-  •  Entrepreneurship: B+  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: A-


• Boston,  Massachusetts  •  President and CEO: Brett Jenks  •  •   Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: Jumpstart recruits and trains college students to work with low-income preschool children and their families, stimulating and interacting with children to develop neurological skills and promote school success.  The goal is three-pronged: to provide kids with one-on-one mentoring and instruction, to involve families in their kids’ education, and to inspire college students ot pursue preschool teaching careers.
Results: The number of kids in Jumpstart programs increased by 33% in 2004.  And annual assessments show those participants make greater gains in school readiness skills than their peers.
Social Impact: A-  •  Aspiration and growth: A-  •  Entrepreneurship: A  •  Innovation: B  •  Sustainability: A+

RAISING A READER Menlo Park, California  •  Executive Director: Carol Gray  •  •   

What it does:
By the start of the first grade, middle-income children have spent an average of 1,700 hours reading; for low-income kids, the average is just 25 hours.  Raising a Reader aims to change that.  It sends children home with bags of new books, nurturing a steady reading routine.  It also holds community “read aloud” programs to train low-literacy parents how to “read pictures” to their children.
Results: In 27 states and 4 countries, Raising a Reader served 57,000 children in 2005.  In San Francisco, it has documented a 69% increase in children’s prereading scores.
Social Impact: B+  •  Aspiration and growth: B+  •  Entrepreneurship: B+  •  Innovation: B  •  Sustainability: A-

ROOM TO READ  San Francisco, California  •  Executive Director: John Wood  •  •   Previous winner: 2004, 2005

What it does: Education is the quickest path out of poverty – so Room to Read joins with villages in Southeast Asia to build schools, libraries, and computer language labs.  It matches villagers’ contributions of land, labor, and cash with donations, then advises on the actual construction.  It also provides scholarships for young girls to further their education.
Results: Room to Read has improved education for more than 800,000 Asian children.  It had initiated over 180 new school projects, opened over 2,000 libraries, and donated more than 1 million books.

Social Impact: B+  •  Aspiration and growth: A-  •  Entrepreneurship: A  •  Innovation: B  •  Sustainability: A-


• Washington, DC  •  President: Alex Counts  •  •   Previous winner: 2005

What it does: Grameen supports 52 microfinance partners in 22 countries, guaranteeing their loans and providing training and technology.  Grameen Technology Center distributes software to further help emerging business owners: Its MTN villagePhone lets local entrepreneurs in Uganda and Rwanda buy cellular-phone minutes at wholesale rates and resell them to other villagers.
Results: More than 1.1 million families received loans through GFUSA’s network.  In 2003 and 2004, 35% of its lending partners’ clients escaped poverty within five years of joining the program.
Social Impact: A-  •  Aspiration and growth: A-  •  Entrepreneurship: A  •  Innovation: B+  •  Sustainability: B+

UNITUS •  Redmond, Washington  •  President and CEO: Geoff Davis  •  

What it does: A “global microfinance accelerator,” Unitus identifies the highest potential microfinance institutions (MFIs) in developing countries and helps speed their growth with investments and consulting.  It wants MFIs to be run as profitable, large-scale, poverty-focused businesses with links to local capital markets, as opposed to organizations that rely on philanthropic dollars.
Results: Two years ago, Unitus MFIs had 228,000 clients.  Today, they have more than 475,000.  They expect to reach 2.8 million by 2008.
Social Impact: A-  •  Aspiration and growth: B+  •  Entrepreneurship: A  •  Innovation: B  •  Sustainability: A-


FOUNDATION • Bethesda, Maryland  •  Executive director: Shari Berenbach  •

What it does: Calvert raises capital from private and institutional investors, lends it to socially oriented organizations, then returns it to investors, with interest.  It works to create a more effective and efficient social-capital market by creating innovative financial products and services such as Community Investment Notes, a first-of-its-kind debt security now sold through Charles Schwab and Merrill Lynch.
Results: Calvert’s efforts have led to the creation of 119,000 jobs, built or rehabilitated more than 6,000 homes, and financed almost 7,000 nonprofit facilities.
Social Impact: A+  •  Aspiration and growth: A  •  Entrepreneurship: A  •  Innovation: A  •  Sustainability: A


 • San Francisco, California • Cofounder and CEO: Martin Fisher • • Previous winner: 2005

What it does: KickStart sells farmers in sub-Saharan Africa- many of whom live on less than $1 a day—the technology to lift themselves out of poverty.  Its top seller: an $88 foot-driven irrigation pump that allows farmers to grow three or four crop cycles annually and sells fruits and vegetables throughout the dry season.
Results: KickStart estimates that each pump can raise a small farm’s income from $110 to $1,100 annually, lifting a family out of poverty.  Its tools generate more than $38 million in profits and wages each year.
Social Impact: A+  •  Aspiration and growth: A+  •  Entrepreneurship: A-  •  Innovation: A+  •  Sustainability: B

 • Seattle, Washington  • President: Christopher Elias  •  •  Previous winner: 2004, 2005  •  

What it does: PATH is health-technology pioneer in the developing world.  It typically joins with private-sector partners to hatch new technologies, such as prefilled, single-use syringes that allow lay people to deliver vaccinations while eliminating the risks of needle reuse, and low-cost “clean delivery kits” that reduce the number of newborn deaths from infection.
Results: PATH measures its impact locally.  So in the Andhra Pradesh state of India, one program has helped lift the number of children immunized from 58% of the population to 72% in less than five years.
Social Impact: A  •  Aspiration and growth: B  •  Entrepreneurship: B+  •  Innovation: A+  •  Sustainability: A-


Two relatively new organizations, though not award winners, were cited by our board of advisers for their extraordinary potential:

ECOLOGIC FINANCE  • Cambridge, Massachusetts • Executive director: William Foote •

EcoLogic provides loans and financial training to environmentally minded midsized businesses, promoting grassroots sustainable economic development in rural areas of Latin America and East Africa.

TAPROOT FOUNDATION  •  San Francisco, California  •  President: Aaron Hurst  •

Taproot strengthens nonprofit organizations by harnessing the skills of business professionals to provide marketing, human resources, and capacity-building services, either for free or at discounted rates.

Profiles by Stirling Kelso, Melissa Korn, Joseph Manez, and Jennifer Pollock