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PRESS RELEASE: The Elevate Prize Foundation Announces Judging Panel for Inaugural Elevate Prize powered by MIT Solve

Chef José Andrés, CBS News Contributor María Elena Salinas, Cellist Yo-Yo Ma Among Renowned Judges 

MIAMI—July 22, 2020—In partnership with MIT Solve, The Elevate Prize Foundation announced its 2020 judging panel, who will select the 20 finalists and ten inaugural winners of the Elevate Prize this fall. The Elevate Prize Foundation, founded by entrepreneur Joseph Deitch, is a new philanthropic effort that aims to elevate humanity on a global scale by supporting and amplifying the work of social entrepreneurs globally. 

Earlier this spring, the Foundation launched its Elevate Prize, which will award $5 million to ten changemakers tackling the most compelling global challenges of our time across healthcare, poverty, social injustice, and more. Winners and their organizations will receive a minimum of $300,000 in funding, as well as professional expertise from top industry leaders and scholars, and a powerful media platform to amplify their impact. Winners will be announced in fall 2020. 

The Foundation, in its commitment to radical diversity, has brought together a wide-ranging and esteemed judging panel of 20 industry leaders—from world-famous personalities to best-selling authors to some of the brightest minds in business, academia and humanitarian efforts—to help select the inaugural class of winners. The judging panel includes: 

  • Chef José Andrés, Founder, World Central Kitchen 
  • Kristy Muir, CEO, Centre for Social Impact 
  • Lee Cockerell, Executive Vice President (Retired), Walt Disney World® Resort 
  • Dr. Lisa Genova, Neuroscientist and Author 
  • María Elena Salinas, Independent Journalist; News Contributor, CBS 
  • Njideka Harry, Founder, Youth for Technology Foundation 
  • Pape Samb, Global Vice President, Ashoka; Executive Director, Ashoka Africa 
  • Patrick Connor, Founder, Sharmada Foundation 
  • Dr. Peter Materu, Chief Program Officer, Mastercard Foundation 
  • Rashida Bumbray, Director, Culture and Art, Open Society Foundations 
  • Sanjiv Mirchandani, Head of the Client Relationship Group, Fidelity Institutional 
  • Sheila Roche, Brand and Creative Consultant, (RED); Co-Founder, Hive 
  • Steve Hollingworth, President, Grameen Foundation 
  • The Venerable Tenzin Priyadarshi, Director, Center for Ethics, MIT
  • Teresa C. Younger, President and CEO, Ms. Foundation for Women
  • Topher Wilkins, CEO, Opportunity Collaboration; Co-Founder, 
  • Wendy Woods, Vice Chairman, Social Impact, Boston Consulting Group
  • Wingee Sampaio, Program Director, Cartier Women’s Initiative
  • Yang Lan, Chairperson, Sun Media Group
  • Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist 

“Our extraordinary judges share in our vision of inspiring change on a global level by awakening the hero and the problem-solver in all of us,” said Joseph Deitch, Founder, The Elevate Prize Foundation. “They have each had an immeasurable impact on their own communities and see the opportunity to do so much more. We are incredibly honored and humbled that they have chosen to join us as we embark on this journey together. Our winners will benefit from their wisdom and continue to pay it forward.” 

“We’re ecstatic to have the support of such a radically diverse group of thought leaders and innovators to help us build momentum for the first year of the award,” said Carolina García Jayaram, Founding Executive Director, The Elevate Prize Foundation. “We couldn’t have asked for a better cohort of judges to lend their expertise and help us lift up what will no doubt be an incredibly inspiring and worthy group of global activists.” 

“We are delighted to support The Elevate Prize Foundation and its esteemed judges to select the inaugural winners of the Elevate Prize,” said Alex Amouyel, Executive Director, MIT Solve. “The Elevate Prize Foundation is looking for radically diverse activists, artists, entrepreneurs, technologists, and more who are elevating humanity all over the world—so it’s apropos that we have a chef, a cellist, a news anchor, and a monk teaching at MIT, among many others, as judges.” 

About The Elevate Prize Foundation 

Founded in 2019 by Joseph Deitch, founder and chairman of Commonwealth Financial Network, The Elevate Prize Foundation aims to elevate humanity on a global scale by funding, guiding and scaling the platforms of social entrepreneurs within the areas of healthcare, the environment, poverty, inequality, the arts, and more. The Foundation’s primary program is the Elevate Prize—an annual search for innovators and activists working to solve the world’s problems that culminates each fall with the selection of ten heroes to receive funding and guidance to amplify their work. From there, the winners embark on a two-year program fueled by access to top scholars and industry leaders who guide and support them in scaling their impact. Together, prize winners, advisors, partners and collaborators across industries combine their impressive reach to create a single, powerful philanthropic amplification platform to awaken the hero in all of us. For more information, visit, and follow @ElevatePrize on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

About MIT Solve 

Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting, transformational impact. Join Solve on this journey at

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