Five not-for-profit tech entrepreneurs who made a big impact in 2021

Force of nature. This is how I would describe the five innovators you will meet. I am delighted to share my annual roundup of not-for-profit technology leaders who transform the technological space with social impact. These entrepreneurs have big visions for improving lives through technology. What sets them apart: the leaps they took in 2021 to make these visions a reality. Each responding to a pressing need amplified by the pandemic, here are five innovative social entrepreneurs who are creating technological solutions for communities around the world.

Cecilia Corral, Co-Founder and Vice President of Products at CareMessage

For underserved communities, access to key health information can save lives. This is especially true in the midst of a global pandemic. Combining her engineering background and childhood experience in a low-income immigrant home, Cecilia Corral co-founded CareMessage generate positive health outcomes for communities through accessible technology.

Cecilia made CareMessage a scalable, data-driven tool that is transforming the way safety net organizations engage with their patients. These organizations (think free clinics and community health centers) are leveraging the CareMessage platform to reach patients via SMS, streamline care, and improve internal processes. The result: Cecilia and her team currently reach 10 million patients across the United States

CareMessage’s 2022 goal is to increase that number. Cecilia plans to do so by evolving CMLight, CareMessage’s COVID-19 platform designed to communicate critical information about the virus. From testing and vaccination advice to places to find food and rent assistance, more than 300 organizations have provided COVID-19 information to millions of patients through CMLight. As we grapple with the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, it is clear that Cecilia and her team at CareMessage will provide key support to communities at risk.

Heejae Lim, Founder and CEO of TalkingPoints

We do not often talk about the parent-educator partnership. But for families – especially underfunded multilingual families – strong communication with their child’s teachers can be transformative. Heejae Lim experienced it. While her mother may have played an important role in her upbringing because she spoke English, she saw her peers with non-English speaking parents struggle. Today the Heejae building Discussion points, an accessible platform connecting traditionally marginalized families with teachers to unlock their child’s potential.

TalkingPoints removes systemic barriers to effective and equitable family-school partnerships through two-way translation, scaffolded resources and content. In 2021, Heejae led his team by facilitating over 100 million conversations between educators and families. It works: 93% of teachers saw their students improve their attendance, engagement and well-being with TalkingPoints.

Heejae and TalkingPoints are on an ambitious mission to impact 10 million families and teachers by 2023. To achieve this, they are building a next-generation platform with extensive, engagement-focused engagement tools. research. “This is our unique opportunity to invest in families as a catalyst for student success,” Heejae says.

Christina Guilbeau, Founder of Hopebound

As a high school teacher, Christina Guilbeau has witnessed the harm caused when young people do not have access to mental health resources. His experience was symptomatic of a larger trend; in the United States, half of lifelong mental illnesses start in early adolescence – yet 14 million children attend schools without mental health personnel. Christina tries to solve this problem with Full of hope, a digital platform connecting disadvantaged young people with virtual video-based therapy.

Innovative in its approach, Hopebound enables at-risk youth to receive mental health support from mental health clinicians in master’s programs, who earn the supervised clinical hours they need to graduate. 2021 has been an exciting year for Christina. Her leadership has earned Hopebound recognition as one of eight nonprofits funded by Zoom Cares. And, Hopebound celebrated its 1,000th free virtual therapy session. As Christina plans to serve the next 1,000 and beyond next year, she is excited to expand Hopebound’s impact by expanding her team, increasing school and community partnerships, and bringing in more counselors. .

Namya Mahajan, co-founder of Rocket Learning

In India, 150 million children do not have access to kindergarten. At the same time, 75% of their families are on WhatsApp. Namya Mahajan saw this as an opportunity to use technology to transform early childhood learning in her home country. She partnered with a star team of technologists and education experts to found Rocket Learning. In short: Rocket learning reaches parents in India where they are – on WhatsApp – to enable them to reinforce their child’s fundamental learning through videos and educational activities.

Rocket Learning took off… quickly. Since their launch in March 2020, Namya and her team have already reached 300,000 students across India with their WhatsApp-based learning platform. They are just getting started. Rocket Learning’s partnerships with state governments, coupled with its scalable technology, are poised to propel it to even greater impact.

After winning recent awards from MIT Solve and the World Economic Forum, Namya and the Rocket Learning team are set to bridge India’s education gap in 2022. Next year Namya plans to support learning child of one million children in five Indian states. . Keep an eye out for this innovator.

Aly Murray, co-founder and executive director of UPchieve

There are more than 40 million low-income children in the United States whose chances of graduating from college are significantly lower than their higher-income peers. Aly Murray was one of them. Due to lack of resources in high school, Aly almost dropped out of college. But she did, and now she’s moving forward by democratizing access to tutoring through UPchieve. His north star? Give all students the opportunity to finish high school, go to university and access upward mobility.

Using the UPchieve app, high school students are matched with a live volunteer tutor in under five minutes. This year, Aly and the UPchieve team passed the exciting milestone of the 10,000 low-income students served in all 50 states. These high school students have requested an on-demand tutor more than 50,000 times on the platform. Thanks to UPchieve, they got the help they needed.

Looking ahead, Aly has a lot in store for UPchieve. She is very excited to expand UPchieve’s tutoring offerings to support more science and human subjects, as well as adding a new feature that allows students to ‘favor’ tutors and be more likely to be matched with them. Driven by innovation and a commitment to students like her, Aly is determined to make UPchieve the tool she wished she had.


As we continue to meet the challenges of the pandemic, the need for these technological solutions will become even more pronounced. I am grateful to these inspiring leaders for their unwavering commitment to supporting communities, and I look forward to following them as they meet – and exceed – their goals next year.


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