Ashoka, the largest worldwide network of social entrepreneurs, has just announced the receipt of a $3 million grant from tech philanthropists Sergey Brin and Ann Wojcicki to further the work of its Changemaker Schools program.
The program, which partners with the organization Roots of Empathy, works with elementary school teachers to cultivate empathy in students and teach them the skills of effective change making. The grant will help further this work, providing infrastructure for the program and resources to support designated Changemaker Schools.
"Most important about what Ashoka is doing is that they make people believe that change is possible. That belief can go viral," said Anne Wojcicki, founder and CEO of 23andMe and cofounder of the Brin Wojcicki Foundation, in a statement about their decision to support the program.
This latest grant from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation will help the program identify key principles, tools, and best practices that can be shared with educators across the country, furthering what Ashoka has described as social entrepreneurship's ultimate goal of creating a society where everyone is a change maker. It also represents an extended and increasing commitment from the philanthropists, who made challenge grants of $1 million in 2010 and 2012, and $2 million in 2011, for Ashoka's 30th anniversary.
"We are very grateful to Anne and Sergey for their generous and continued support of our global work," said Diana Wells, president of Ashoka. "Their own experience and career path as entrepreneurs is reflected in their understanding of the need for visionary capital to have the flexibility to allow Ashoka's community of entrepreneurs to move on new urgent opportunities for impact as we learn — such as how critical it is for young people to learn the skills of empathy, teamwork, leadership and changemaking during the growing up years within an ecosystem of changemaker schools, with the involvement of teachers, parents and other influencers."
There has been some speculation about what will become of the Brin Wojcicki Foundation after the announcement in August that after six years of marriage, the Google cofounder and the biotech entrepreneur had been living apart for several months. There has not been an official separation or divorce yet, but a representative of the couple told media outlets, "They remain good friends and partners." Regardless of the future of their foundation, however, it is clear that Brin and Wojcicki will continue to lend considerable support to organizations such as Ashoka for years to come.