Announcing the 2022 Classy Award Winners
It is our privilege to announce the 2022 Classy Award Winners. Join us in celebrating the people and organizations that continue to move the needle on some of our world’s largest issues.
About the Classy Awards
The Classy Awards have been bringing together social sector leaders and influencers since 2009 to recognize the achievements of thousands of nonprofits across the globe. Now in its 9th year, it’s one of the largest social impact awards in the country.
A Look Into the Winner Selection Process
In April, our Classy Awards Committee selected the top 50 Finalists from a pool of 1,700 nonprofit participants. These Finalists were then scored on four judging criteria:
- Scale, scope, and expertise in addressing a problem
- Ability to solve the problem
- Creativity of the solution
- Organizational effectiveness, diversity and inclusion, and resource management
Below, we recognize the 13 Classy Award Winners and offer a look into the impact of their programs.
Meet the 2022 Classy Award Winners
The People’s Choice award, presented by LinkedIn for Nonprofits and determined by public vote, highlights the innovation of a nonprofit making incredible contributions to our society.
Winner: America Needs You
Program: The Fellows Program
The Fellows Program helps first-generation college students complete internships, graduate, and secure employment by pairing them with a trained volunteer Mentor Coach. Over the two-year program, students receive more than 200 hours of career insight and personal support.
In 2021, 244 students completed the program, including 200 mentorship hours and 120 career development hours. America Needs You anticipates over 260 Fellows graduating in 2022.
Adapt & Overcome Award
The Adapt & Overcome award, voted on by the Classy Awards Committee, celebrates an organization that has transformed the structure of its program to conquer an unexpected challenge.
Winner: NY Sun Works
Program: NY Sun Works
The need for improved STEM education is pervasive, particularly among low-income students from minority communities. NY Sun Works’ program is the first of its kind, providing inquiry-based STEM and sustainability education to K-12th grade students through the lens of urban indoor agriculture.
From 2019 to 2021, NY Sun Works reached 155,000 students through its program. The number of schools using NY Sun Works’ lessons and resources continues to grow as well, with 200 schools applying their curriculum in 2021 alone.
The 10 Winners of the Social Innovation award are determined by Classy’s Leadership Council, a prestigious group of social sector leaders. The Council is represented by organizations such as The Salvation Army USA, World Central Kitchen, Jane Goodall Institute USA, Microsoft, Salesforce.org, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Winner: Sanku Project Healthy Children
Program: Project Healthy Children
Malnourishment impacts 28 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa, and the problem continues to grow. Sanku Project Healthy Children’s goal is to end malnutrition in Africa by guaranteeing sustainable access to nutritious food.
To carry out its mission, the organization installs its award-winning Sanku Dosifier, a fully-automated nutrient fortification technology, in Tanzania and Kenya. It also works with third-party implementers in Malawi and Rwanda. The technology enables small-scale millers to produce fortified flour at no additional cost to themselves or their customers.
In 2021, the Sanku Project Healthy Children team installed 671 active dosifiers that milled more than 31,000 metric tons of grain.
Winner: Trees for the Future (TREES)
Program: Trees for the Future
The goal of Trees for the Future (TREES) is to combat climate change, generational poverty, and chronic hunger by training farmers in sustainable land use. Their signature methodology, the Forest Garden Approach, helps farmers transform their land with thousands of trees and crops, which creates new possibilities for themselves and their communities.
Farmers experienced a 706% increase in access to diverse, nutritious foods in 2021 as a result. In their first year using the Forest Gardens Approach, farmers can see their income increase by 400% and gain food security within three years. Since 2019, TREES’ has also planted more than 193,000,000 trees in Forest Gardens.
Winner: Green Bronx Machine
Program: Foster Care Farm and Tiny Home Village at Stepping Stones Residential Facility
When young males age out of the foster care system in Appalachia, 74% end up homeless, addicted, or incarcerated within six months. Living wage opportunities are also extremely limited, and the region is considered a food desert with scarce access to fresh fruits and vegetables.
Green Bronx Machine is partnering with Stepping Stones Residential Treatment Facility to build the first-ever commercial farm staffed and run by foster-care youth. The hydroponic farm provides living-wage employment opportunities, along with 21 tiny homes for foster-care youth who are aging out of the foster care system.
In 2021, the program employed 45 students at the greenhouse and housed six foster-care youth in tiny homes on campus.
Program: Play Everywhere
Based on behavioral science research, KABOOM! created the Play Everywhere program as an innovative strategy to address playspace inequity. By activating play in unexpected, everyday spaces, their team hopes to spark social, emotional, and physical growth in the 28 million children who don’t have access to a park near their homes.
To date, KABOOM! has launched nine national, regional, and city-wide challenges, leading to the creation of more than 200 community-led Play Everywhere installations.
Winner: Yamba Malawi
Program: Childhoods & Livelihoods Program
A staggering 70% of the population in Malawi lives in extreme poverty, and 64% of all children lack basic needs in more than one area: nutrition, healthcare, education, housing, water and sanitation, and social protection.
To combat these challenges, Yamba Malawi launched an innovative child-focused poverty graduation program. The three-year program uses a holistic approach to empower caregivers and community organizations with training, mentoring, seed funding for businesses, digital finance, and other resources that empower them to meet children’s needs.
Since its inception, Yamba Malawi has impacted the lives of more than 200,000 children, including 53,000 in 2021 alone.
Program: VoteAmerica Tool Integrations
Only 66.8% of citizens voted in 2020, which was the highest turnout of the century. To improve our voter registration and engagement systems, VoteAmerica provides publicly available election information data and easily embedded tools to simplify the voting process in all 50 states and Washington D.C.
VoteAmerica’s tools make it easy for voters to verify their registration status and information, register to vote, request an absentee ballot, identify a polling location, and more. They’ve leaned into an exponentially scalable 1-to-millions approach with their strategic partnership integrations, reaching 400,000 people in 2021 alone.
Winner: Games for Change
Program: G4C Student Challenge
To combat the challenges that our next generation is facing due to educational disruptions brought on by the pandemic and persistent inequality, the G4C Student Challenge helps students master critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity through games and game design.
The G4C Student Challenge is a national design competition that invites middle and high school youth in the U.S. to create digital games about issues impacting their communities.
In 2021, Games for Change reached 4,071 students and trained 282 teachers. In just three years, students in the program submitted more than 2,900 games to the national competition, indicating that they had completed the program and could demonstrate their learning.
Winner: Nuru International
Program: Nuru International
Farming communities in fragile areas of Sub-Saharan Africa are suffering in extreme poverty without access to the tools and knowledge they need to achieve a better future. Nuru International works in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Nigeria to equip farmers with training, inputs, and infrastructure support supplied by Nuru-supported farmer-led cooperatives.
The Nuru Model is distinctive in its implementation of a leadership development program, or “Sustainability Engine,” that helps restore agency to local leaders. After 5-7 years, Nuru leaves behind a completely self-sustaining impact model owned and operated by these empowered individuals.
In 2021, Nuru International served 7,475 farmer households, resulting in a 65% increase in crop yield and a 42% increase in household income.
Winner: World Telehealth Initiative (WTI)
Program: World Telehealth Initiative
Over 50% of the world lacks access to safe, timely, affordable healthcare. To help transform medical access for vulnerable communities worldwide, the World Telehealth Initiative (WTI) connects more than 350 volunteer physicians with over 24 hospitals across Asia, Africa, South America, and the Caribbean.
To expand its services, the program brought on 160 new volunteers in 2021 and provided 925 telehealth sessions. Looking ahead, World Telehealth Initiative (WTI) plans to increase its global footprint to 40 partner hospitals and 1,000 physician volunteers by the end of 2022.
Winner: Well Aware
Program: Well Aware
Well Aware is addressing a lack of access to clean water in rural East African communities through its innovative smartphone app. Knowing that nearly 60% of water projects in Africa fail, Well Aware’s tools carry out ongoing water system maintenance and diagnostics.
Their app makes it possible to investigate, plan, design, implement, and fundraise for custom clean water systems that fit the specific needs of communities throughout East Africa. To date, Well Aware has impacted the lives of over 300,000 individuals through more than 90 water projects. With the support of transformative technology, they hope to maintain their 1005% success rate—an incredibly high benchmark in the industry.
Lifetime Achievement Award
The Leadership Council nominates candidates and selects a winner of the Lifetime Achievement award, which recognizes an individual who has achieved excellence over a lifetime of service in the social sector.
Winner: Kailee Scales, CEO at Pencils of Promise
Kailee’s work at the intersection of global development and social justice spans nearly two decades across 15 countries. She began her career as a fundraiser for a Democratic Congressional candidate in New York and has since collaborated with the World Health Organization, United Nations, global CEOs, and heads of state in developing solutions to the world’s most complex problems.
From 2017 to 2020, Kailee served as the first Managing Director of the Black Lives Matter Global Network. In this role, she was responsible for building infrastructure across the global organization and served as the executive producer of the viral video, Rest in Power Beautiful, seen over 10 million times.
In June 2021, she was named CEO of Pencils of Promise. Pencils of Promise has built more than 580 schools that currently serve over 110,000 students across Ghana, Guatemala, and Laos.
Celebrating the Impact of our 2022 Winners
Congratulations to our 2022 Classy Award Winners who join a prestigious group of nonprofits embracing new ideas and illustrating the potential to drive change in our society.
We saw a very competitive pool of organizations, all of whom are worthy of recognition for the lives they are changing and the positive impact they are making around the world. We are honored that you shared your story with us and hope you’ll be back in 2023.
Introducing the 2022 Classy Award Winners
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