Ashoka Receives $250,000 Challenge Grant to Advance Social Entrepreneurship in Israel

Ashoka has received a $250,000 challenge grant to customize its trademarked Changemakers® platform to support and connect growing numbers of social entrepreneurs in Israel and around the Jewish world. Kikar Ashoka, the customized platform, aims to help these social entrepreneurs develop, maintain and scale initiatives, collaborate on shared ideas and connect with potential supporters.

The three-year challenge grant is from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. As part of the broader Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network (CLSPN), the Schusterman Foundation is focused on empowering young people with the skills and tools they need to create substantive change in their local communities, in Israel and across the Jewish world. With the goal of encouraging more philanthropists to support Kikar Ashoka and the entrepreneurs who will use it, Ashoka must raise an additional $250,000 for the project, set to begin development this winter.

The announcement came during the Tikkun Olam Conference at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, in which Ashoka Founder Bill Drayton and CLSPN President Sandy Cardin shared the stage for a conversation about the intersection of service, social change and entrepreneurship.

“The one single factor that determines society’s success is the percentage of changemakers within it,” said Bill Drayton. “It’s important for the future of Israel and the Jewish people to have as many social entrepreneurs as possible re-thinking and imagining what a prosperous society looks like.”

“The Jewish community in general, and Israel in particular, has a wealth of innovative thinkers and change agents applying their talents to social initiatives,” said Sandy Cardin. “Through our partnership with Ashoka, we believe we can help increase the viability and visibility of their social footprint. It is a great opportunity for these Jewish changemakers and for all of us who benefit from their passion.”

Ashoka pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship 32 years ago and is now a global network of 3,000-plus changemakers in 72 countries. It launched Changemakers a decade ago to foster positive collaboration amongst these entrepreneurs and their initiatives. Thus far, Changemakers has sourced more than 10,000 innovations; helped establish partnerships with global corporations and foundations such as Nike, eBay, Google, Citi and the Rockefeller Foundation; and leveraged over $600 million in funding for the most promising solutions.

Ashoka launched in Israel in 2009 to support and spread local innovative social solutions and to showcase Israel beyond its borders as the Start-Up Nation in the social sector as well as in the fields of hi-tech, clean-tech and biotech. Kikar Ashoka will provide a much-needed centralized platform for innovators and projects that seek to create positive social change within Israel, to bring Israeli innovation to the broader Jewish world and to ensure that social entrepreneurs across the Jewish community are able to reach wider audiences in Israel. It will be bilingual – in both Hebrew and English – providing an opportunity for Israeli changemakers to communicate in their own language while participating in a global Jewish marketplace of ideas.

Similar to the Ashoka Changemakers platform, Kikar Ashoka will feature:

  • Tools for innovators to define goals, develop business plans, track and report progress, and run their ventures;
  • An open platform for social entrepreneurs to showcase their innovations and collaborate;
  • Knowledge, learning and assisted matchmaking opportunities; and
  • Competitions to identify and grade investment innovations.

The partnership with Ashoka fits in with Schusterman’s broader mission to invest in young social entrepreneurs who can develop new solutions to longstanding challenges, as well as strengthen the Jewish community and Israel. Also included within the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Philanthropic Network is the ROI Community, a global network of more than 800 Jewish innovators in 50 countries who are creating new ways to engage more people in Jewish life.

“Through our work with ROI, as well as incubator programs like PresenTense and Joshua Venture, we have recognized a need for a sophisticated platform that supports changemakers by connecting them to resources, partners, supporters and networks that can open the door to greater success and deeper impact,” said Cardin. “Through our partnership with Ashoka, we believe we have found one of the best ways to help meet that need.”