Talking in class on Tuesday about social entrepreneurs immediately made me think of TED. TED started out as a conference bringing together people from three different backgrounds (Technology, Entertainment, Design), and has since expanded to encompass many other worlds as well; two conferences are now held every year, bringing together innovative thinkers and doers all over the world, challenging them to present their hopes and dreams for change in an 18 minute speech.
"Our mission: Spreading ideas.Three $100,000 prizes are awarded annually to help the winner achieve their dreams. Topics range from literacy to systematic government corruption, and there are literally hundreds of videos available on the site and on youtube to watch.
We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world. So we're building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world's most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other."
One of my favorite speakers, and winners of the TED prize in 2008, is author Dave Eggers. In his speech he challenged the TED community to personally, creatively engage with local public schools, and discussed at length how he created his own nonprofit organization to do this called 826 Valencia in San Francisco. Presented as a pirate supply store on the outside, contained within is a space for children who struggle with writing to receive one-on-one attention from volunteers who range from professional authors to SAT course-instructors. It has since expanded to two other locations, The Time-Travel Mart in LA and the Superhero Supply Company in Brooklyn.
The Once Upon a School website goes even further into his ideas and how the TED prize money helped him achieve his goals.