Two and a half years ago, when I announced my intention to give away $1000 a day to an individual change-maker, every day for the rest of my life, people thought I was nuts. I was told $1000 doesn't really make a difference -- that I should use my money "scale up a model program" instead of investing at the grassroots level. Someone even wrote in an op ed for the Chronicle of Philanthropy that giving in this way was about personal gratification and did not make good sense.
Now, several years and1000 grants later, I am more committed than ever to giving small seed grants through the Pollination Project, the organization I co-founded in 2012. With grantees in 57 countries, I am now connected to ordinary people doing extraordinary things in almost every corner of the globe. The Pollination Project's worldwide network has become a thriving and growing ecosystem of grantees, advisors, community partners and friends. Hundreds of projects have taken root and grown with the $1000 seed that we gave them; all they needed was someone to believe in them. Our grantees have gone on to win prestigious international awards, speak at TED conferences, be featured in major media, and secure large grants, and so much more.
This summer, to celebrate our 1000th grant, we are giving the 2015 Visionary Award to an up-and-coming social change leader whose vision and commitment inspires hope and reminds us that there really is a groundswell of goodness in the world. Out of 150 applications, we selected four outstanding finalists working on human rights, social justice, animal advocacy, environment, arts activism, and women's rights. And you get to be a judge by voting for your favorite visionary. It takes 30 seconds and you don't' have to sign up for anything or login to your facebook account to participate.
Our amazing finalists are:
Maria Maneos, Brush with the Law, Eaglesville, PA
A prison arts program founded by a mom and artist whose son was in the criminal justice system.
Mark DeVries, Citizen Drone Project, North Carolina
An environmental and animal rights education and media effort using drones to gather information about factory farming operations.
Padmanaban Gopalan, No Food Waste, Coimbatore, India
A youth-led food redistribution program where leftover food from large events is repackaged and distributed to hungry people.
Samantha N. Ngcolomba, Lady Liberty, Johannesburg, South Africa
A platform for attorneys to use their pro-bono time to support abused women living in the poorest townships of Jo'Berg.
Which of these visionaries inspires YOU? We want to know. Your vote will help determine the winner of the 2015 Pollination Project Visionary Award.