Gratitude Network Announces 30 Fellows For 2020 Cohort Of Changemakers For Children


12/3/201913 min read

Forbes – 3 December 2019 – The Gratitude Network, a Bay Area-based leadership development organization led by serial entrepreneur, angel investor and venture capitalist, Randy Haykin today announced the selection of 30 fellows for the 2020 cohort of changemakers working to support children and youth around the globe.

The fellows are carefully screened over five months and are focused on at least one of three areas of work: education, health and wellbeing and children’s rights. The fellowship is a 12-month leadership development program that includes coaching and advice from experts, regular interactions with their cohort members, participation in a four-day leadership summit and visibility on the Gratitude Network website.

Prior to the cohort announced today, the Gratitude Network has had 80 fellows working in more than 30 countries around the world. More than 26 million children and youth are benefitting from the services of the fellows’ work.

The selection process began with 1200 applicants, from which 300 were chosen for a second-round screening yielding only 10% being finally chosen. The second-round applications are reviewed by a panel of 16 judges. The final step involves interviews with those judges.

Of the 30 fellows, five are focused on children’s health, 10 on children’s rights and 15 on education. Eleven are based in the U.S., five each in India and Nigeria, two in the U.K., and 1 each in Kenya, Uganda, Peru, Switzerland, Pakistan, Tanzania, Cameroon and Vietnam.

Here’s a list of the 30 new fellows in alphabetical order by the name of the organization. The information has been drawn from the applications with help from the Gratitude Network.

African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect Nigerian Chapter

African Network for the Prevention and Protection Against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) Nigeria is working to provide a child protection system for Nigeria and technology-based coordination of response to violence against children.

Elekwachi Chimezie Lekwas

Lekwas has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and master’s degree in Clinical Psychology. In 2010, he was head of an NGO delegation to present Nigeria’s Alternative Report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. He has been working at ANPPCAN for 14 years, rising from field officer to national program director of ANPPCAN.

Better Life Vietnam

Better Life Vietnam is a non-profit organization that works to improve education conditions for underprivileged children and youth in Vietnam.

Thinh Nguyen

Nguyen was born and raised in Hanoi, Vietnam and is passionate about human rights. Nguyen founded Better Life Vietnam (BLV) with the belief that access to education, food, clean water, healthcare and a decent quality of life are basic human rights. She has master’s degrees in International Law and Human Rights, and Political Sciences.

Clinic5 (School Health Initiative)

Through its School Health Services (health education, medical screening, first aid responder and infirmary in schools, access to pediatricians at our clinic), it is able to improve health outcomes in school-going children by merging the verticals of healthcare and education. It’s mission is to innovate and implement primary healthcare solutions for its ecosystem.

Dr. Selina Hasan

After working in a developed healthcare system (UK), the problems and possibilities that existed in healthcare in an under-resourced country like Pakistan became clear to Dr. Hasan. She wanted to do more high impact solution-oriented work in healthcare using health education and joined the organization to focus on sharing her clinical knowledge with school children and teachers.

Devatop Centre for Africa Development

Through advocacy, training, community projects, ICT, and educational services, Devatop Centre for Africa Development has trained and engaged over 2500 human rights advocates, sensitized 500, 000 children and youth, provided educational services and support to 1050 vulnerable children, and rescued victims of exploitation.

Joseph Osuigwe

Osuigwe is an international human trafficking advocate, research, and author with the vision of raising young people as advocates and empowering them to be at the forefront of combating human trafficking, child abuse and other related human rights abuses. In 2018, he advised Germany Parliamentarians on better ways to tackle human trafficking and irregular migration and participated in U.S International Visitors Leadership Program.

Educate a Child in Africa

ECA’s mission is to support student achievement and school improvement in Africa through play and educational games and activities, family and community engagement.

Gideon A. Asaah

Asaah is an Ashoka Fellow and social entrepreneur with over ten years of experience working with young people in Africa. As co-founder and chief operating officer of Educate a Child in Africa, Gideon is responsible for executing ECA’s projects in Africa.

Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children

Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children’s mission is to create a better life for all of Louisiana’s youth, especially those involved in or targeted by the juvenile justice system. It seeks to divest from the juvenile justice system and invest in community-based alternatives, including policies that transform the educational system into one that truly serves young people.

Gina Womack

Womack was born and raised in Louisiana and is the executive director and co-founder of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children. She has worked on children issues for over 20 years and trained hundreds of parents to be advocates for their children and develop leadership skills. Gina is a 2015 United States Human Rights Network (USHRN) Fellow and 2011 Alston Bannerman National Fellow.

Generations For Peace

Generations For Peace empowers youth to lead and cascade sustainable change in communities experiencing conflict, through world-class free education in conflict transformation and the use of sport, art, advocacy, dialogue, and empowerment for peacebuilding.

Lindsay McClain Opiyo

Opiyo is the development and partnerships specialist and US representative for Generations For Peace. She holds a master’s degree from the Kroc Institute at the University of Notre Dame, and has more than 12 years’ experience supporting community-led peacebuilding around the world.

Girl Child Art Foundation

GCAF’s mission is to provide a supportive environment that educate and inspire underserved girls in Africa using arts. GCAF programs seeks to address poverty, gender-based barriers and low self-esteem faced by girls by providing a platform for underserved girls to explore their inherent creative strength, life skills education and also earn a livelihood to support themselves and their families.

Blessing Onyejike-Ananaba

As an artist, a social advocate, a transformational leader and social entrepreneur, Onyejike-Ananaba applies her wealth of experience in social advocacy, the art advocacy, education, youth friendly health initiatives and livelihood pathway options for young people—while preparing young leaders for tomorrow’s global stages. She has over 18 years’ experience working directly with over 80 communities in Nigeria focusing on education and empowerment for the girl child and youth.

Global Changemakers

Global Changemakers supports youth to create positive change towards a more fair, just and sustainable world. We do this through skills development, capacity building, mentoring and grants, and have supported young leaders advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 180 countries.

Katherine Hermans

After receiving her MA, Hermans started out as a journalist working in the Netherlands, Japan and the USA, reporting on social and environmental issues. In 2014, she co-founded Global Changemakers, a Switzerland-based NGO that encourages youth to come up with solutions and consequently supports them to make their projects and initiatives become reality.

I Protect Me

I Protect Me offers sexual violence interventions in schools and in the community in South Africa, teaching women, children and vulnerable adults resilience and self-defense without the use of weapons, teaching them how to be resilient, to set their own boundaries and to respect the boundaries of others.

Monica Bennett

Bennett is committed to keeping children safe by empowering young people to resist abuse, thereby helping them to reach their full potential. She founded I Protect Me in 2013, teaching women, children and vulnerable adults resilience and self-defense without the use of weapons.

Involve Learning Solutions

Involve partners with low-income schools where they train and mentor senior school students to teach their juniors which develops future-ready skills in seniors and improves academic scores in juniors, thus tackling all the problems effectively through a single program.

Samyak Jain

Jain heads the Program Design at Involve Learning Solutions and has always been passionate about solving real-life problems of the nation. He is an Avanti Fellow and a YES Foundation Fellow.


With 262 million children out of school, and 1 billion children in poverty, we are scaling quality education to out of school children in disaster-affected regions and refugee camps through personal education devices. The Jara Unit is a long-term viable alternative learning solution for students to learn anywhere at any time – in under-resourced classrooms and out of school. The Jara Unit enables a child to learn anywhere, anytime, with or without a classroom.

Soraya Fouladi

Since she was a teenager, Fouladi has designed her life so that she could gain the skills to one day, make Jara a reality. After attending the United Nations school to gain a global education, she went to university for electrical engineering to understand how to build what is now the Jara Unit, where she also designed and manufactured products from prosthetics to wearables. In 2018, Jara won the first runner-up prize in Cisco’s Global Problem Solver Challenge and received the Entrepreneurship Scholar Award from Social Capital Markets.


Kantaya’s mission is to promote quality education and holistic development for children living in extremely impoverished communities in Peru.

Yessica Flores

Flores cofounded Kantaya in 2004. Driven by innovation and entrepreneurship, she leads the areas of fundraising, marketing, finance, strategic planning and the social business. In addition to her leadership in social initiatives, she has more than 15 years of experience in marketing and strategic planning at leading corporations in Peru. She was the recipient of a SOCAP Fellowship in 2019.

Lagos Food Bank

Its mission is to end hunger and malnutrition by providing for the immediate (nutritious meals) and long term needs (sustainable employment) of indigent families to improve their socio-economic status. It is committed to alleviating hunger and poverty by delivering nutritious food, basic healthcare services and self-sustenance programs to the most vulnerable in the society.

Michael Abolarinwa Sunbola

Sunbola has over ten years’ experience in the non-profit sector and is a legal practitioner by training with a master’s degree in law and arbitration. In 2015 he founded the first indigenous food bank (Lagos Food Bank) which has reached 86 rural communities with the assistance of over 7,000 volunteer-base in Lagos. In 2019, he participated in the Obama Foundation’s Leadership Training.

Learn Fresh (NBA Math Hoops)

Learn Fresh makes learning fun for all students. The organization improves engagement and achievement through innovative learning experiences, leveraging students’ passion points to inspire their STEM and social-emotional learning. Through its work, the organization explicitly strives to reach students who have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields, specifically girls, students of color, and students from low-income communities.

Nick Monzi

Monzi earned a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship and marketing management from Syracuse University, and completed his master’s degree at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he took an active role in growing the presence of education innovation on Harvard’s campus. As the co-founder of Learn Fresh, he has worked with global corporations, leading urban school districts, and national and regional after-school program providers to develop the Learn Fresh community program model.

Milaan Foundation

Milaan Foundation is a non-profit organisation which envisions an inclusive and equal world, where every girl has the knowledge, skills and social environment to pursue her dreams and explore her full potential. By 2030, Milaan will empower 10 million girls across India and build a movement of Girl Leaders with a thriving ecosystem of change-makers and networks.

Dhirendra Pratap Singh

Singh is the chief executive officer and co-founder of Milaan. Under his leadership, Milaan launched the Girl Icon Fellowship, a leadership development initiative for adolescent girls. He has also been a recipient of the Karamveer Puruskar and Youth Ambassador for Peace Award by Universal Peace Federation in 2007 and was most recently named an Action for India Fellow in 2019.

Music Life Skills And Destitution Alleviation (M-LISADA)

M-LISADA uses education, music, life skills and child protection to empower and transform vulnerable children and youth from the slums of Kampala so that they become self-reliant. M-LISADA created a children’s center, approved by the government of Uganda, which acts as a safe haven for the children.

Donia Emilly

Donia has worked with M-LISADA since 2013, initially as a volunteer, then rising in the ranks to act as the executive Director of M-LISADA Organization in 2017. She is an environmentalist with 9 years’ experience in various fields.

Panacea Project

The Panacea Project provides food and other essentials to the extremely vulnerable children such as the orphans, children of/on the street while also engaging in teaching secondary school students on various issues such as global citizenship, leadership and community service.

Oluwaferanmi Omitoyin

Omitoyin is a co-founder of the Panacea Project and currently is in his fifth year of medical school. He has been named a Young African Leaders Initiative Fellow and a UNITE 2030 Ambassador.

Project Commotion

Project Commotion’s Mission is to foster healthy development in children of all abilities through purposeful movement, play, and family and community relationships. Project Commotion’s movement-based programs deliver an innovative fusion of child-development, neuroscience, sensory-based and relationship-based practices, producing healthy physical, socio-emotional, and cognitive outcomes in children of all abilities (children with disabilities & typically-developing children).

Susan Osterhoff

Osterhoff has 19 years of experience working with children in movement programs throughout the Bay Area. Susan has guided Project Commotion’s growth trajectory from the early days as a two-person operation offering sensory-based movement classes, to an organization serving 1,445 individuals annually through 5 program branches, including extensive partnerships throughout San Francisco.

Red Dot Foundation

Red Dot Foundation aims to make cities safer by encouraging equal access to public spaces for everyone especially women, through the use of crowdsourced data, community engagement and institutional accountability.

ElsaMarie DSilva

D’Silva is the founder and CEO of Red Dot Foundation (India) and president of Red Dot Foundation Global (USA). She is a 2019 Reagan Fascell Fellow, a 2018 Yale World Fellow and an alumna of the Stanford Draper Hills Summer School, the US State Department’s Fortune Mentoring Program, Oxford Chevening Gurukul and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Commonwealth Leadership Program. She is also a fellow with Rotary Peace, Aspen New Voices, Vital Voices and a BMW Foundation Responsible Leader.


ROYBI’s mission is to provide a personalized learning experience for every child, highlighting their unique abilities and interests. Roybi Robot is an AI-powered educational robot for children ages 3-7 in language learning and basic STEM skills.

Elnaz Sarraf

Sarraf is a serial entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience in technology, business, sales, and marketing. She has been named Female Entrepreneur of The Year, a Nasdaq Center Milestone Maker, and was included in the “Women of Influence” in Business Journal.

San Francisco Achievers

The mission of San Francisco Achievers is to support African-American young men in San Francisco to lead and thrive in higher education and beyond by closing the opportunity gap. The organization addresses the challenge through college scholarships, leadership training, and mentoring. Its students benefit from a community of support that starts with staff and extends to volunteers, businesses, and nonprofits throughout the Bay Area.

Duane Wilson

Wilson started his first business while in high school, when he realized he found great joy in advising youth on starting their own enterprises, and in empowering them to believe that they could achieve anything. Service is engrained in his life, illustrated by his status as a 2016 Chicago Defender Man of Excellence honoree and his foundation The Spirit of Philanthropy.

Saturday Art Class

Saturday Art Class is a non-profit education organization promoting life-skills, social emotional learning and character development in low-income schools of Mumbai. We aim to educate children about important values and life-skills to create more wholesome individuals who can better navigate their lives beyond the walls of the classroom.

Manasi Mehan

Mehan co-founded Saturday Art Class in 2017 after completing a two year Teach for India Fellowship, in which she saw the need to integrate social emotional learning into classroom curriculum. Mehan has a master’s degree in sociology.

Shule Direct

Shule Direct improves learning outcome by creating access to its local and relevant content, developed according to the national curriculum and monthly market surveys of users’ learning needs that can be accessed anytime and anywhere on available technological devices.

Fatma Said Kauga

Kauga was born and raised in Tanzania and is very passionate about education as a tool to eradicate poverty in Africa and a strong believer in youth potential to bring positive change in the world. She is the recipient of the Young and Emerging Leaders Project Fellowship in 2019 and the Cordes Fellowship in 2018.

Society for Children (SOCH)

SOCH saves the lives of many innocent runaway, abandoned, trafficked, and missing children going into various difficult situations via counselling, address tracing, family reunion, and rehabilitation camps.

Manoj Kumar Swain

Kumar received his master’s in social entrepreneurship, going on to found Society for Children, a nonprofit that has been recognized in many national and international platforms. In 2015, Society for Children won Best Children NGO award at Giving Back, Mumbai, and in 2016, Manoj was a winner at the India CSR Summit.

Soul Shoppe

Its mission is to create safe learning environments that bring forth a culture of compassion, connection and curiosity—eliminating bullying at the roots. Its innovative and interactive programs give the entire school community an experience of empathy, transforming not only the behaviors, but the very ways community members see each other.

Vicki Abadesco

Abadesco started Soul Shoppe in 2000 because she realized that young people have the desire and ability to be heard, understood, and mutually supportive if only they were given communication tools and teachings to thrive. She is a fellow for the Dalai Lama Center for Transformative Values & Ethics at MIT and the recipient of Packard Foundation/Ashoka Changemakers “Building Vibrant Communities: Activating Empathy to Create Change” Award.

The Commonwealth Education Trust

CET is built on the premise that education is the foundation for development. Its purpose is to advance primary and secondary education across the Commonwealth with a strong focus on teacher professional development. Teach2030 is the Commonwealth Education Trust’s (CET) innovation to improve foundational teaching skills, develop a culture of lifelong learning and digital literacy.

Kat Thorne

Kat Thorne is a former teacher and educational technology specialist and has a vast background in public and private education. She began as head of learning and educational development at CET and now acts as executive director.


TQIntelligence leverages innovation in digital health, automation, and machine learning analytics to transform the quality of mental health treatments and eliminate the long-standing outcomes disparities for at-risk youth from low-resourced communities.

Dr. Yared Alemu

The genesis of TQIntelligence is partly based on founder Dr. Alemu’s frustration with the lack of data-driven, efficient mental health services for patients being served in the publicly funded mental health sector. Dr. Alemu has 13 years’ experience as a psychologist and healthcare administrator, including working with more than 5,000 patients and training more than 100 mental health providers.

Tripura Foundation

Tripura Foundation seeks to deliver hope to children around the world living in poverty, hunger, violence, disease, inequality and exploitation. We believe that all children, regardless of socio-economic background, should be enabled to reach their highest potential and contribute to their community and the world at large.

Elaine Keuper

Keuper is global director of the Tripura Foundation, overseeing the overall strategy and global program operation of the non-profit for the last seventeen years. She is a renowned speaker and presenter, including delivering a TEDx talk in India and has spoken at various press conferences and events.


With over 2500 changemakers, impacting 2000 children across 20 cities in India, U&I is creating a new generation of changemakers passionate about providing quality education to students from underprivileged backgrounds and shelter homes.

Satish Manchikanti, Ajit Sivaram

Manchikanti is a social entrepreneur with 15+ years of experience in the verticals of corporate training and media. Having led volunteer movements for the last 15 years, Sivaram understands how to influence without authority and motivate people to go above and beyond for a cause.