"I started Books N Bros because as a young black boy, I recognized the lack of African American literacy in my former elementary school, and I wanted to change that. And I did! Advocating for African American literacy allowed me to increase the diversity in our school's library, as well as create a subscription based book club to mail directly to families around the country! We started with 7 members in 2016, and since then we've had over 450 members!"

SIDNEY K.

Founder of Books N' Bros

Working with people experiencing homelessness, longtime social worker Cathy H. repeatedly saw how devastating the prohibitive cost of commercial car repair could be. In a domino effect, people who couldn’t afford to get their cars fixed couldn’t get to work and so lost their jobs. Without jobs, they lacked the money to pay for housing and ended up in shelter.

It was also evident that many people who could not afford the cost of commercial car repair, felt that they equally could not afford to stop driving some very dangerous vehicles. Too often they spent a bleak Minnesota winter living in cars without brakes or heat.

At age 38, already holding a BA in social work and an MA in Pastoral Ministry, Cathy took out $18000 in student loans and went back to school to earn an Associate’s degree in auto technology. In April 2013, with board members, donors, and volunteers to back her, The Lift Garage opened for one day a week with one repair bay with Cathy and others volunteering to fix cars.

The demand was immediately overwhelming and so The Lift kept expanding, adding staff and hours until we’ve reached our current situation: owning a 5 bay shop with a staff of 12 serving 120 customers a month. To date, The Lift Garage has saved low income Minnesotans over 1.7 million in car repair costs since 2013. If you would like to donate or learn more visit www.theliftgarage.org

CATHY H.

Founder of The Left Garage

Marvin W., CEO of the Innovation Factory, is a serial entrepreneur and inventor, with numerous patents. His successful products include the Trucker’s Friend and Off Grid Survival Axe (licensed to Off Grid Tools); the IceDozer (licensed to SnowJoe) as well as the Chainmail Scrubber (licensed to Lodge Manufacturing).

He is the volunteer organizer of the Philly Makers Meetup and Maker Faire, a community for catalyzing innovation and collaboration among hard-product entrepreneurs.

Marvin was recently honored as the keynote presenter on the closing day of the 2019 NASA NIAC annual symposium. He spoke on how scientists and engineers can and should expand their range of thinking to improve their success in developing leading edge technologies.

He is currently leading a group of volunteers in development of the LightBox, a low-cost, lab-proven device for sterilizing thousands of face masks a day. The design of this lifesaving tool is being shared freely with the worldwide DIY community.

Marvin graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Michigan with a degree in Philosophy and a JD from Boston University. He is also a professionally trained classical (and Klezmer) violinist.

I have a passion for ‘making’ which is reflected both in my inventions as well as through my commitment to ‘make’ the world better.

The volunteer LightBox initiative lies at the intersection as a physical expression of my philanthropic commitment.

MARVIN W.

CEO of the Innovation Factory

The inspiration to focus on plastic pollution as a project, came to me a couple years ago. This was when all the news articles about plastics were just coming out -- including the famous National Geographic article. However, after a lot of research on this subject, I realized that the biggest problem threatening the environment is not the larger pieces of plastics floating on the surface of the ocean. I learned that these microplastics are so small, that you can barely see them with your naked eye. Because microplastics are so small, the clean-up process becomes much more difficult. In the beginning, I created an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) equipt with detection systems to search for microplastics on the ocean floor. However, the scope of my project soon evolved and currently, I’m working on a method to use simulation modeling to predict where microplastics might be located on the ocean floor. I am planning on using environmental data collected by NASA’S ECCO Dataset to form spatial maps, along with the use of the neural networks of the collected information, which are used to predict future environmental patterns, to create the maps. I am also planning on, in the near future, upgrading the ROV into an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle) with a more adaptable algorithm to the locations of where microplastics are aggregating along the ocean floor. In the years I have been working on my project, however, I have come to realize that not many people understand the true dangers of microplastics. One of the most common questions that I get asked, is along the lines of ‘microplastics aren’t that big of a problem, so why am I focusing on it?’ It’s very important to me that people understand just how toxic microplastics are, and the effects it will have on the human health, and the environment around us. The Deep Plastic Initiative was founded to spread the word about microplastics to as many people, especially children, as possible. Deep Plastics believes that we can all contribute something to help solving this world problem. No matter what age you are, or your background, there’s a way that you too can help out – whether it’s volunteering to spread the word, cleaning up a beach or park, conducting some citizen science projects, finding ways to design cleanup projects at home or at school, contributing to fundamental science / engineering research in this field and more!

ANNA D.

Environmental Engineer + Inventor

State Senator Will Haskell was elected in November 2018 to represent the 26th State Senate District. Born in 1996, he is the youngest member of the General Assembly. After graduating from Georgetown, Sen. Haskell returned to his hometown, and decided to run for office with the mission of drawing other recent graduates back to Connecticut.

“I believe young people won’t be taken seriously by our government until we show up at the ballot and on the ballot.”

WILL H.

Connecticut State Senator

I became interested in designing bionic leg prostheses while working at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where I moved after completing my Ph.D. in Robotics. There, I had a chance to interact with many people with amputations and their significant others. Getting to know them personally and understanding their struggle with available technologies motivated me to develop something better. The ability to walk is essential to your life and being able to pursue whatever you want to do. When just standing up is a pain and when walking means being afraid of falling, you just don’t go on with your life. I decided to build a bionic leg to help people with amputations move and live more independently. While many people thought it was not possible, I have always had faith in the power of engineers to solve problems. Now we have a first demonstration that it can be done. I hope our work at the University of Utah will be the starting point for a revolution in prosthetics, changing millions of lives.

DR. LENZI

Medical Innovator

Karsten G. has been part of the Bahlsen Family and the #MakeItBetter philosophy for more than 20 years. As Senior Group R&D Technical Expert, he leads a team that combines innovative ideas, quality ingredients and classic baking traditions that have been honored for more than a century.

“I always think of people coming home after a long day opening a pack of Bahlsen biscuits and instantly creating a happy moment. What could be better than that?”

KARSTEN G.

Senior Group R&D Technical Expert

Oscar has served his country in the Army from 2002-2008. Ever since 2007, he has moved on from being Military Police to a Deputy Sheriff. He works long hours, he works on holidays, and misses family events to protect the community and keep everybody safe. As a first responder, during hurricanes and other emergencies, he is required to be on the job, and put duty first. He is a self-less, caring family man, and I am proud to have him in my life.

OSCAR R.

Deputy Sherrif, Cape Coral FL

Nicholas Lowinger is the President and Founder of the Gotta Have Sole Foundation and a recent graduate of NYU Stern School of Business. At the age of five, he started volunteering at a local homeless shelter and found that many of the children were lacking adequate footwear. They had shoes that were falling apart, needing to be held together by duct tape, didn’t fit properly, if they even had shoes at all. When he turned 12 years old, he launched Gotta Have Sole to provide homeless children with brand new sneakers in an effort to help them feel confident, comfortable, and special. To date, Gotta Have Sole has provided brand new footwear to over 104,000 homeless children throughout the entire United States. In addition to the footwear program, Gotta Have Sole has developed and launched its College Ambassador program, in which university students teach an empowerment curriculum to children in shelters, teaching them both life and social skills. Through Gotta Have Sole, Nicholas is providing children with the shoes they need to get to school and the skills they need to succeed.

Nicholas L.

President and Founder of the Gotta Have Sole Foundation