An update for supporters
Dear friends of the CFIC,

Midway through last year, we started an ambitious project: fill what we perceived as a gap in the social impact space by building an entirely new organization from scratch, and create programs within it to capitalize on our decades of experience to scale the things we know will have the most impact.

What did we do to achieve these daunting goals?

The Center for Impact Communications, our new 501c3 nonprofit center, now has some exciting developments to share from our first few months of experimentation.

[Want to skip to the end of this update? We are in fundraising mode and would love to have your support.]

"We set out to find the next Malalas and the next Gretas, and built a program to provide them world-class support"
The CFIC's pilot program is The Empowered Voices Project. It was born out of our experience building the profiles of impactful social changemakers. What we have seen is that when a powerful individual such as Malala or Greta are paired with tools and resources for amplification, magic happens. This is the formula for mass impact.

So we set out to find the next Malalas and the next Gretas, and built a program to provide them world-class support to lift their profiles, amplify their stories and create change.

By investing in these amazing rockstar changemakers at a point in their journey when they do not have access to the top-tier communications, media, PR, strategy, fundraising and networking support that large organizations can access, we can massively scale their impact and set them up for lifelong success.

Doing so also has power in lifting up traditionally underrepresented voices in the media; powerful voices of women of color who deserve to be heard.

How are we doing so far?

Amongst the ranks of our first class of Empowered Voices are Obama Foundation fellows; Nobel Peace Prize nominees; Global Citizen Prize winners; UN Women Champions; Young African Women of the Year; White House fellows; Tribeca Honorees; and more.

Here are a few early stage highlights:
Youth Climate Strikers
Working on climate change has been a depressing exercise for the last decade. Finally we have something to give us hope: a group of teenagers with a lazer-focused message, razor-sharp strategy nous, and a chilling moral authority. It has been our honor to help them get heard.

For the leading youth climate activists, the challenge has been unusual. Rather than trying to get attention, for these leaders the challenge is navigating a massive amount of attention in an unfamiliar territory full of pitfalls, with plenty of nefarious individuals, organizations and media outlets trying to trip them up at every turn.

Boosted by the lengthy visit of Greta Thunberg to the US climate strikes, and the media circus that brought, we have been able to help these activists sustain the positive coverage and momentum they need to keep up the good fight. That has been through a range of activities, from launching a legal challenge in the UN for countries violating their rights as children, to top-tier in-depth coverage of their profiles and protests in global media, to connecting them to celebrities, philanthropists and more.

Rohingya Activists
Wai Wai Nu is a Rohingya human rights activist who has already spent a quarter of her young life jailed as a political prisoner in Burma's most notorious prison. Since her release, she has founded the Women Peace Network in Myanmar to help marginalized women and Rohingya, and created the viral #MyFriend campaign to counter the anti-Rohingya violence.

Wai Wai is under constant threat and surveillance from the Burmese regime. Despite this, she determined to put herself forward as one of the only spokeswomen willing to confront the regime. We accompanied Wai Wai to The Hague to confront Aung San Suu Kyi as she defended Myanmar's genocide of the Rohingya at the International Court of Justice. The media blitz made sure there was a powerful voice to speak up for these crimes as a former human rights heroine denied them.
Women Peacebuilders
Our program was lucky enough to welcome some amazing young women who had already been recognized by Kofi Annan as key to the future of a peaceful world. Ilwad Elman and Hajer Sharief are doing similar work in different places — Hajer built a peacebuilding center in Libya to make sure the reconstruction after the civil war included the voices of youth and women, and Ilwad returned to the Somalia she fled as a refugee child to help rebuild by doing the same. At 19 she founded the country's first rape crisis center.

When Ilwad's family was struck by sudden tragedy (her sister Almas was shot and killed in Mogadishu in November, the same fate her peace activist father suffered when they were children), we were on hand to deal with media inquiries and backchannel the Canadian authorities to press them to be involved in the official investigation. We realized that some of the benefits of this program are intangible and hard to predict, but having a team in your corner when the unexpected occurs is essential.

To cap it all off, both Hajer and Ilwad were shortlisted for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize.
Feeding the African Future
When you think of the issue of hunger in Africa, you no doubt have a narrative top of mind that involves foreign food aid feeding a distended belly with their hand out. Wawira Njiru is a Kenyan entrepreneur who has set out to change this story, with an innovative startup that feeds school meals to empowered children more efficiently than government aid can do.

Using wearable technology, parents use mobile payments to pay for low-cost nutritious school meals. Hungry kids don't learn, and Wawira has found a new model to unlock these kids potential in an efficient and empowering way.

We worked with Wawira to help her scale a successful pilot into an operation that is on track to serve 1 million kids by 2025. Helping connect her to the right philanthropists and develop her narrative and pitch, she just closed $1 million USD in new funding to get her there.
Some of the other participants in the program:
We have so many more good news stories to tell, but wanted to introduce you to this program with a few select highlights. Some other participants in The Empowered Voices Project include:

Yeonmi Park - North Korea defector and human rights advocate
Amika George - Teenage founder of Free Periods to end to period poverty worldwide
Ruth Kissam - World first expert in sorcery-related violence against women
What you can do to help:
We have successfully proved the concept: giving this type and level of support to amazing changemakers significantly lifts their ability to have impact in their work.

But to date, this proof of concept phase has been entirely self-funded out of our own pockets. Now we want to scale the program, but that will need investment.

Do you know any philanthropists, foundations or high net worth individuals who would be interested in investing in youth leaders? We would love to be connected.

Are you in a position to contribute yourself? Every little bit counts, and contributions are tax deductible.

Do you know any inspiring changemakers in need of support? We are on the lookout for people doing amazing and impactful work we can support through this program.

Do you think what we are doing is interesting? We would love it if you can spread the word about our program, by either forwarding this email or mentioning us or our changemakers at your watercooler.

Would you be interested in being on our board, or know someone? We are in the process of building out the Board of Directors for The CFIC, and would love to be connected.


Lastly, thanks for all the support we have received so far on this journey. Our vision was to build something that harnessed the power of networks, and you are part of that integral network.

We can't wait to update you on what 2020 brings for this amazing group of social impact rockstars.

Executive Director
Center for Impact Communications