November 13, 2019

Congratulations, 2019 Changemaker Challenge Winners!

The Horizon Foundation and United Way of Central Maryland award $60,000 to big ideas for social change in Howard County

The Horizon Foundation and United Way of Central Maryland came together to award four winners a total of $60,000 at Monday night’s 2019 Changemaker Challenge event. Selected from 56 applicants, nine finalists presented their big ideas for social change in Howard County to a live audience of 250 community members and a panel of judges.

The winners are:

  • Orlando Goncalves and Alfred Striano of Upcycled – $25,000 for their idea, Upcycled Structures from Recycled Goods
  • Liz Burrage, Colette Jackson and Bryan Sorrentino of The Arc of Howard County – $15,000 for their idea, Community Accessibility with Dignity
  • Pamela Woolford – $10,000 for her idea, Spreading the Word about Columbia’s Black Freedom Visionaries
  • Dr. Leah Katherine Saal and Dr. Lisa Schoenbrodt – $10,000 for their idea, STEER – Strategic Training for Empathic Emergency Response. Drs. Saal and Schoenbrodt also were named winners of the Maureen Hayes Award for serving people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The award was created in honor of the Foundation’s former chief administrative officer.

Read about the winners in the Baltimore Sun>>

Hear from two of our winners on HCC Dragon Digital Radio Facebook Live>>

Hosted by the Horizon Foundation and United Way, the Changemaker Challenge is focused on sparking innovation and fresh thinking to address some of Howard County’s most pressing issues.

“We were blown away by the ideas we received this year,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO, the Horizon Foundation. “The Changemaker Challenge showcases the power, creativity and energy of our community to address complex social problems. The breadth of challenges addressed, and the creativity used to address those challenges is inspiring. We are fortunate to have so many dedicated, enterprising individuals and nonprofits who truly care about social change and making our community a better place for everyone.”

The second-ever Changemaker Challenge solicited ideas from Maryland residents to address a community need, and finalists pitched projects focused on a diverse range of issues from environmental education and caregiver support to mental health and Latino community engagement.

“The Changemaker Challenge aligns so well with our goal of supporting grassroots leaders who want to drive positive change in their communities,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “We celebrate the Changemaker Challenge winners, past and present, and all those who are sparking new ways of thinking in our communities.”

Group photos from Changemaker Challenge

The finalists presented to a panel of judges including Greg Olaniran, board chair, Horizon Foundation and partner, Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp, LLC; Lori Robinson, board member, United Way of Central Maryland and vice president of corporate branding, communications and community relations, McCormick & Company; and Robin Steele, board secretary, Horizon Foundation and business manager, BRIDGES Consulting, Inc. at the live event held at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab in Laurel. Following is a description of each of the winning proposals.

Upcycled Structures from Recycled Goods won a $25,000 grant. The grant will help founders Orlando Goncalves and Alfred Striano, get their 501c3 nonprofit, Upcycled, Inc., off the ground. The Howard County-based non-profit organization will create a more environmentally conscious community through the removal of debris and plastic waste in area parks and communities. Upcycled will encourage recycling by offering free recycling services to businesses and residents, as well as organizing community cleanups. The plastic recycling will then be processed into an interlocking brick design that can be used to build sustainable, low-cost structures that will be donated to areas in need.

Community Accessibility with Dignity, proposed by The Arc of Howard County, won a $15,000 grant to fund adult changing tables in the community. There are currently no public bathrooms in Howard County equipped to accommodate adults with disabilities whose caretakers need to provide assistance in restrooms. Without these facilities, caregivers are forced to change continence pads on public toilet floors or wait until they go home.

STEER – Strategic Training for Empathic Emergency Response, presented by Dr. Leah Katherine Saal and Dr. Lisa Schoenbrodt, won $10,000 to create, implement and evaluate a sustainable training program for Fire/EMS personnel in Howard County to better serve individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. The program will use Self-Advocate Educators alongside disability service professionals to teach firefighters and EMS about the range of characteristics of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and how their behaviors and communication abilities may vary from the non-disabled population in crises or emergency situations. Trainees will learn evidence-based techniques for communication and safety and have the ability to practice these skills and concepts through role-play situations with the Self-Advocate Educators – providing meaningful employment opportunities for people with disabilities in Howard County.

Spreading the Word about Columbia’s Black Freedom Visionaries, proposed by Pamela Woolford, won a $10,000 grant. Woolford’s big idea is to add an in-depth section to her upcoming 2020 memoir to reveal some of the countless stories of black history-makers in the early years of Columbia, Maryland. The town’s story as a flagship for racial harmony is told and retold absent a diversity of powerful stories of black changemakers who not only shaped the development of Columbia but also shaped and continue to impact American society on a national level. With this grant, Woolford will also be able to take her storytelling on the road to share the pivotal impact particular black leaders made to Columbia with the community.

Special thanks to all who joined us for this inspiring event, and to our opening guest speakers Howard County Council Chair Christiana Mercer Rigby and Howard County Chief Innovation Officer and Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Angela Lagdameo Cabellon.

We also thank all of our additional finalists for being part of the Changemaker Challenge and look forward to seeing their continued leadership in the future:

  • Big Red Barn Environmental Education: Danielle N. DuPuis – Community Ecology Institute
  • Initiative for Latin American Community Engagement – InLACE: Lucas de Melo, Patricia Silva
  • Mental Health First Aid and Narcan Training with a Focus on Veterans: Gary Canteen, John Way – VA Way
  • Practical Skills Training for Caregivers: Claire Cohen, Dan Demmitt, Elizabeth Edsall Kromm, Tracy Novak, Rachael Parran, Esther Tenaglio, Kathy Wehr – Howard County General Hospital
  • Rubix Preventative Mental Health Program: Dr. Zaneb Khan Beams – ​Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center