African Edutainment Company Ubongo Wins Next Billion EdTech Prize

Former Gratitude Network Fellow Ubongo, a Tanzanian-based company which creates fun, localized and multi-platform educational media that reaches millions of African families through television and the webs, has won the Next Billion Edtech Prize, an award launched by The Varkey Foundation to recognize innovative technology that can have an impact on education in low income and emerging world countries.


Two of our Fellows were selected as 2019 Obama Foundation Fellows

Congratulations on this honor to Tarun Cherkuri from Indus Action (2018 Fellow) and Mario Fedelin from Changeist (2019 Fellow)

The second-ever class of Obama Foundation Fellows are a diverse set of leaders who model the powerful truth that each of us has a role to play in civic life. They’re building cultures of entrepreneurship in neighborhoods that need it most. They’re protecting our environment and ensuring we can live sustainably for generations to come. They’re showing the world that criminal justice can be restorative justice. And they’re proving that our most disadvantaged and disconnected communities can also be our most vital and innovative.

Get to know the 2019 class of Obama Foundation Fellows below and learn more about the Fellowship program here!


CHICAGO —Brian Hill lives an audacious mission: He’s out to save 2.3 million people from “The Jerry Springer Show.” That’s the population now held in America’s prisons and jails. And for Hill, the tawdry slapstick of Springer’s shout show exemplifies what’s wrong with prison: Prisoners have so much time on their hands that they fill with empty distraction — including hours, days and years of daytime TV — rather than anything constructive. That waste of human potential appalls him.

Six years ago, Hill embraced the task of inducing prisoners to reach for more than the channel selector. He founded Edovo, a Chicago-based company that equips incarcerated men and women with tablet computers. Those tablets help prisoners learn everything from how to read to what evidence supports the Big Bang theory of cosmic origins.



Learn more about Lumina Foundation’s recent updates.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris interviewed on City Arts and Lectures

As a pediatrician working in the Bay View-Hunter’s Point neighborhood of San Francisco, Nadine Burke Harrisnoticed that the children who came to her clinic with health problems—including ADHD, asthma, and eczema—had histories of severe adversity. Her research has shown that exposure to violence and stress affects the developing brains and bodies of children, resulting in increased instances of substance dependence, impulse control, engagement in high-risk behavior, and heart disease or cancer. In response to her findings, Harris founded the Center for Youth Wellness which provides care coordination, mental health services, nutrition, holistic interventions, and medication when necessary. She is the author of The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity.

Indre Viskontas is a cognitive neuroscientist at University of California, San Francisco and on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She has published groundbreaking work on the neural basis of memory and creativity and is co-host of the podcast Inquiring Minds. Her forthcoming book, How Music Can Make You Better, comes out Spring 2019.

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris (2017 Gratitude Network Cohort) was named first-ever California Surgeon General by Governor Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced the appointment of a pediatrician as California’s first-ever surgeon general.

Newsom said in a news release that Dr. Nadine Burke Harris will focus on combating the root causes of serious health conditions and use her office to reach young families across the state.

Burke Harris is founder and chief executive of the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, which aims to improve the health of children exposed to toxic stress and trauma early in life.

Her annual salary will be $200,000. She is a Democrat.

Spotlight on Sarah Hernholm

We’re so proud of our Fellow Sarah Hernholm.

What is your best advice to a younger entrepreneur hoping to follow in your footsteps?

I remember when I was starting out, I felt the pressure to have the answers and know everything. It felt like I needed to overcompensate for being young and “green”. BUT this approach of acting like you know everything doesn’t serve you in the long run. You know what does? Humility, and the willingness to keep learning. Myself, and many of my peers, are more inclined to support, help, and even invest in, young entrepreneurs who have a great hustle, mixed with a big dose of humility. Plus, even those of us who are considered more experienced don’t know everything. We don’t have all the answers, but what I think a lot us do well is we listen and keep learning.
So my advice is to stay hungry, keep hustling, but above all else, express humility and curiosity … always, and in all ways.


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Fellows in the News: Dost

I wanted to share a new blog about Dost’s story with you. I hope it sheds some light on the beginning of my co-founder and my journey to change the early learning gap in India.

A month into my coaching relationship with Renee has already yielded actionable areas to work on. Can’t thank the Gratitude Network team enough in helping us deepen our impact at Dost Education.


The familiar Skype ringtone sounded, and Sneha Sheth and Sindhuja Jeyabal found themselves face to face. Between them lay a screen and 8,834 miles. They’d never spoken before, but a friend of a friend at Berkeley had recently introduced them due to their unique shared passion for education in India. “You both talk about education a lot,” he said, “you guys should meet.”

What started as an informal chat between two women who could not have been more different on paper quickly became an intense discussion about the power of education. Having seen inequity across the globe, the two were motivated to change how women could access high quality education.

The call was enough to convince Sneha to fly back from Mumbai to the bay area, where they were both in grad school at UC Berkeley, to determine if Sindhuja might be the right co-founder for her new venture, Dost.

Read the Full Article

Gratitude Fellow Drinkwell Honored by Prime Minister

One of our Gratitude Fellows, DrinkWell, (CEO –Minhaj Chowdhury), was honored last week by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for providing safe drinking water in capital city Dhaka. Way to go!


Fellow Achievements: Book Release

Gratitude Network Karim Abouelnaga’s new book is out. Here’s a description:

At 17, sitting overnight in a Queens jail cell on an overblown traffic violation, Karim Abouelnaga could not have imagined in his wildest dreams that six years later he would be numbered among Forbes’ “30 under 30.” Founder and CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, an education company dedicated to leveling the educational playing field for kids growing up in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, Karim discovered in his late teens the “up elevator” of education – a rocket ride that took him from living hand-to-mouth on the streets of Queens to graduation from Cornell. In BREAKING THROUGH: From Rough to Ready, Karim reflects on the principles and priorities that changed his life so dramatically. He aims in these pages to inspire young people to come along his journey – in effect, to follow his lead in transforming daily life and habits of living from “rough” to “ready” – prepared in every way to reach the top in financial, social, and personal goals.

Karim is a Gratitude Network Fellow and the CEO of Practice Makes Perfect, a Benefit Corporation that partners with K-12 schools to deliver high quality, academic summer programs. He founded Practice Makes Perfect at 18. He writes for Entrepreneur, Forbes, Linkedin, and is working on releasing three books during Summer 2018. Karim is a TED Fellow and Echoing Green Fellow. At 23, he was named to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list in Education, and at 24 was named to Magic Johnson’s 32 under 32 list. In 2016, he was ranked in the top 3 most powerful young entrepreneurs under 25 in the world by Richtopia. He graduated from Cornell University with a Bachelor’s in Hotel Administration.



Editor’s Note: The below post is part of our Alumni for Impact series, which features alumni who are making a difference in the social sector, specifically in K-12 education, impact investing, nonprofit supportive services and social entrepreneurship.  In this post, Randy Haykin (MBA 1988), explains how his organization, The Gratitude Network, is working to “scale-up” social enterprises.

My 30-year career after HBS started as a serial entrepreneur in the Silicon Valley, followed by 15 years building my own venture fund. Through it, I’ve been privileged to be a part of over 100 early- and growth- stage companies, as well as teach at UC Berkeley’s Haas School and University of Cambridge in the Entrepreneurship area.

In the past 15 years there has been enormous amount of focus on early stage entrepreneurship, “incubators”, and the birth of a new companies Hundreds of incubators exist to assist these “new-borns”. This is true in the social impact section as well as the technology for-profit sectors. Many angel groups and networks now exist to fund these entities as well.

In the technology (for-profit) sectors, as a company grows, it can obtain assistance and funding from venture funds, private equity and the public markets. This is not true in the social impact space.

Social enterprises who are in their adolescent (“scale-up” or growth) stage have fewer choices – there are very few entities focused on this stage of growth in the social sector. These social impact organizations are seeking ways to build upon a core product, market, or business model and “scale” to sustainability (with not-for-profits) or profitability (with for-profits).

Leaders of social impact scale-ups can become incredible levers of societal benefit.  A mid-size organization that is scaling up well can mean increased local job creation, dramatic regional social and economic benefit and even global impact – leveraged impact may be felt on thousands, or millions of end recipients. This is an area where a leader’s impact can send ripples worldwide for social good.

The Gratitude Network was founded in 2012, with the goal of assisting social impact “scale-ups” – and a few years into our journey we decided to focus on those enterprises affecting children and youth around the world – basically the “future” of our ever-challenging and complex world.

A recent interview on ABC News does a good job of describing the Gratitude Network.

Gratitude chooses top social impact entrepreneurs from around the world, following an award process that we run twice a year. This year we’ll work with 20+ social enterprises impacting children and youth.

Within the area of children & youth, we focus on education/learning, health/well-being and children’s rights/social justice. As an example, this past year we have been privileged to work with Dr. Nadine Burke Harris and Chris Padula at the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco. This non-profit, now in its growth stage, impacts children facing adverse childhood experiences and provides an early intervention program to help families impacted. We have worked on strategic planning and organizational issues with their team to help strengthen their ability to grow in the coming years.

Our model is a two-tiered approach to scaling: 1) introduce a (“Strategic Coach” to work alongside the entrepreneur. 2) engage the coach to bring in resources as needed to help scale the organization. We have over 50 coaches (many of them HBS alums!) with expertise in business modeling, leadership development, marketing, sales, recruiting,–basically all the issues with which a  scale-up is faced. This year, we’ll be rolling out a new feature to our program: a service to match our chosen non-profit entrepreneurs with for-profit funding. Please connect with us if you’d like to learn more.

We are relishing our work- and we invite you to connect with us if the topic of children, education or youth is your passion. We are always looking for strong partnerships, great social impact entrepreneurs, and team members (coaches, mentors, etc). Reach me at