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Nominate a PopTech! Social Innovation Fellow Nominate a PopTech! Social Innovation Fellow
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Nominate a PopTech! Social Innovation Fellow

by Alex Goldmark

February 3, 2011
PopTech wants nominations for world-changers. Know any?

The fast-growing nonprofit, often associated with their annual Ted-like conference, is actually a year-round organization that identifies and nurtures social innovators, helping them maximize their impact and expand. One way they do that is through their Social Innovation Fellows program.

"There are some big, inspiring ideas being put into action around the world that have the potential to make a real difference," said Leetha Filderman, President of PopTech. "We're looking forward to learning about more of them, and excited by the opportunity to work with a few of the dynamic social innovators who are making them happen."

Fellows attend a five-day training program followed by the annual PopTech conference, where they speak on stage. They gain skills, tools and ongoing access to a network of peers and potential collaborators and supporters.

Also funders and investors. I spoke with many of the 2010 fellows and all of them were already achieving real results, or conducting promising pilots. They raved about the network and community of contacts PopTech provided.

GOOD has written about some of them already. Ryan Smith of Micromidas is building a business that sells biodegradable plastic. That's worthy enough on the environmental front, but he uses raw sewage as his input, so as he scales, he'll be reducing pollution from sewage and also from plastic, all while earning a profit.

Dr. Laura Stachel has built a solar power kit in a suitcase so that rural health clinics can operate after dark. It's small enough for a doctor like her to carry on a plane and sets up in minutes. The kit is powering clinics in several African countries and shelter camps in Haiti already. Now Stachel's working to produce more of the kits, possibly selling in them in bulk to international organizations.

Past fellow Eben Bayer started a company, Ecovative Design, that offers an eco-friendly, cost-competitive alternative to Styrofoam. There have been tons of examples of innovative projects in fields from health to technology to environment to social justice during the past four years of the project.

What links them all is a focus on impact and a potential to work at a large scale. The ideas PopTech promotes tend to be replicable, measurable, and solid business propositions too. The idea of the fellowship is to take a promising social innovator with a good plan and give her the support and exposure she needs to maximize potential.

Plus, it's fun being in a group of other people making progress at fixing the world instead of just complaining about it. And the conference is a great time. (GOOD summarized the highlights of last year's PopTech conference if you want a sampling of the talks.)

PopTech is looking for 10 to 20 fellows. Nominate yourself or someone else before March 31. All the details you need are on the call for nominations site. Get world changing!

Image: PopTech Fellow, Brian Elliot at PopTech 2010.

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