June's Grand Prize Winner
Karen Blessen
Karen Blessen

Karen Blessen: Non-Violence Through Art

Karen Blessen started MasterPEACE after a 30-year career as a graphic artist and journalist. In 2000, a senseless murder occurred in front of Karen’s home. Seeing the colossal waste and loss caused by violent behavior, she felt a passion to use the art to teach children about nonviolence. MasterPEACE is an art-based, hands-on curriculum that teaches essential social values like kindness and compassion, and important life skills such as problem solving, conflict resolution and analytical thinking. From 2007 to 2012, MasterPEACE served thousands of children – including refugees, pregnant and parenting teens, and at-risk youth.

Our Other Ideas for Good Winners for June

John Fugazzie

John Fugazzie: Support For The Unemployed

Things went south for John Fugazzie after 9/11. His consulting business failed and his house went into foreclosure. Unable to find decent work, he sought out help at a job-seeking group at the local library. There, he met several other people in a similar situation and that gave him the idea for Neighbors-Helping-Neighbors USA, volunteer support and network group targeted to unemployed or underemployed individuals. After only 16 months of existence, they have helped 131 people find work – without a budget.

Vicki Hill

Vicki Hill: Training for Autistic Adults

People with autism are often talented in technology yet unemployed due to their social communication skills. In 2010 Vicki Hill, mother of an autistic adult, met two dads with autistic sons who were starting to train adults with autism to create video games and apps. Together they opened nonPareil Institute on a college campus in Texas in 2010 with eight students. Today, nonPareil employs 11 autistic adults and trains nearly 80 more to create and sell video games and apps. The Marigold grant would go toward scholarships for student training at nonPareil.

Brenda Moore

Brenda Moore: Entrepreneurship Through Coffee

As owner of the PB Roasting Company in Detroit, Brenda Moore knows the coffee business well. But, on a 2007 trip to Ethiopia, she was amazed by the network of women operating independent coffee micro-businesses, and realized this could be an empowering outlet for women in the U.S. The Java Hope Project provides women with business training and support within the coffee industry, and the opportunity to own their own independent coffee carts.

Deepa Willingham

Deepa Willingham: School For Girls In India

Growing up in Calcutta, Deepa Willingham’s mother always reminded her, "Finish your food, there are starving children just outside." They instilled in her a respect and value for all people regardless of caste, religion or gender. It is with this value in mind that Willingham started PACE Universal, a community program in Piyali, India, that currently reaches over 200 girls and 50 women. Students are taught not just literacy, but life skills and vocational training to attempt to deconstruct the debilitating cycle of poverty.