Ashoka Honors North America’s Top Social Entrepreneurs With Lifetime Election to Global Fellowship

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Twenty-one leading social entrepreneurs from the United States, Canada, Mexico and Central America have been elected Ashoka Fellows, and will be inducted on February 25 in a ceremony at the new Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County. Ashoka: Innovators for the Public recognizes these Fellows for their system-changing solutions for the world’s most urgent social problems. They join the ranks of some 2,000 Fellows in over 60 countries around the world who are working for social change to improve society. More than 250 Fellows are from North America.

The Seventh Annual North American Fellowship Induction ceremony will be hosted by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in the Knight Concert Hall. The keynote speaker will be Michael Barone, senior writer for U.S. News and World Report and principal coauthor of The Almanac of American Politics. Featured speakers will include: Alberto Ibarguen, President and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Bill Drayton, Founder and CEO of Ashoka; James J. Jensen, Executive Director of The Jenesis Group; and Diana Wells, President of Ashoka.

“These new Fellows join with Ashoka and their peers to elevate and strengthen the ‘citizen sector’ here and around the world,” said Ashoka founder Bill Drayton in announcing this year’s Fellows. “Ashoka Fellows are innovators, creating pattern-changing solutions for the most pressing social problems of our day. We like to say that our Fellows don’t teach a man to fish, they reinvent the fishing industry. They bring to light the very best new ideas, then multiply their successes by replicating their ideas across their country and the world. As important, to succeed they encourage local people everywhere to stand up and become changemakers — introducing the Fellows’ ideas and their own.”

Ashoka Senior Fellow and award-winning educator Don Shalvey, founder of the Aspire Public School network in California, will present the 21 Fellows who are being inducted from Canada, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua, and the United States. For a complete list of the Fellows and a brief description of their programs, go to

These leading social entrepreneurs will become lifetime members of Ashoka’s global fellowship, an international association of their peers. Fellows receive initial support that enables them to focus full-time on their work and access to professional and strategic services to help them achieve pattern-changing impact in their fields. Each Fellow is also eligible to apply for supplemental funding for collaborative projects, and to receive training and technical assistance through Ashoka and its partners.

Ashoka Fellows work in six broad fields: learning/youth development, the environment, health, human rights, economic development and civic engagement. Selection criteria include the newness and potential social impact of the idea, as well as the candidate’s entrepreneurial qualities.

Ashoka: Innovators for the Public is a global community of social entrepreneurs who deliver innovative solutions to social problems. To build this citizen sector community, Ashoka identifies and supports leading social entrepreneurs, creates opportunities for collaboration, and builds systems and institutions that facilitate high impact social solutions. Over the past 26 years since Bill Drayton founded Ashoka, the organization has invested in over 2,000 Ashoka Fellows in more than 60 countries. In 2008 Ashoka will launch programs in Israel and Russia. Ashoka’s global fellowship is privately financed by individuals, venture networks, foundations, and leading business entrepreneurs.