In November 2019, United Way of Central Maryland and the Horizon Foundation came together to award four winners a total of $60,000 at the 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 four winners include Orlando Goncalves and Alfred Striano for their Upcycled Structures from Recycled Goods big idea ($25,000 grant), Liz Burrage, Colette Jackson and Bryan Sorrentino of The Arc of Howard County for their Community Accessibility with Dignity big idea ($15,000 grant), Drs. Leah Katherine Saal and Lisa Schoenbrodt for their STEER – Strategic Training for Empathic Emergency Response big idea ($10,000 grant) and Pamela Woolford for her Spreading the Word about Columbia’s Black Freedom Visionaries big idea ($10,000 grant).

“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.”

“Despite all the strengths of the community in Howard County, we recognize that many pressing problems continue to persist,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Our data shows that one in four Howard County households can’t make ends meet and struggle with basic expenses like housing, food, and transportation.”

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

Held for the second time since 2017, the Changemaker Challenge solicited ideas from Maryland residents to address a community need, and finalists pitched projects focused 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,” added Baker. “We celebrate the Changemaker Challenge winners, past and present, and all those who are sparking new ways of thinking in our communities.”

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