In Harmony with Hope® and ElfenWorks Awards

“We applaud those groups and individuals who are working to mitigate the problem of poverty in America. As a way of celebrating these efforts we announce the annual In Harmony with Hope Award. In addition, we invite visitors to nominate those deserving of recognition with an ElfenWorks Award.”

Each year since 2007, The Elfenworks Foundation has paid tribute to a few select individuals who are working to create local abundance in our country through substantive, meaningful, and innovative change. The extraordinary people who are honored with an In Harmony with Hope award are creative social entrepreneurs who have developed innovative solutions to pressing needs in our society.  The programs also hold out the promise of being replicable in communities across the country.

From health care and housing to child welfare and gang intervention, from integrating inmates into society and jobs training to urban agriculture and food distribution, the programs created by our In Harmony with Hope winners have demonstrated proven results and had significant impact.

We have a rigorous process that takes all year. Candidates for the annual award come to our attention through formal nominations and through ongoing research by members of the Elfenworks team. In addition to carefully selecting for innovation, creativity, scope and impact, we use a Seven Pillar Methodology given to Lauren Speeth, our founder, during a mentoring meeting early in 2006. This methodology was first used by Elfenworks for projects, and later adapted by our founder to evaluate all potential award candidates. The seven criteria are:

  • Vision: follow a vision, tuning out naysayers.
  • Chasm: go where you don’t duplicate the good work of others.
  • Special Skills: go where your special skills make a difference.
  • Partnership: work in partnership with the stakeholders.
  • Credit Sharing: share the credit with your partners.
  • Feedback: constantly measure for course correction.
  • Long-term View: allow for bumps along the path to great successes.

Each nomination undergoes a thorough investigation that includes research and speaking with individuals who have worked with the nominee.  A file is prepared for each of the strongest candidates and they are presented to the foundation’s Board of Trustees for final selection in the spring of each year. The annual In Harmony with Hope awards ceremony takes place in the early fall in the California bay area. If you have someone in mind you think would make an ideal award recipient, please visit or you can download and fill out this form, and send it to The Elfenworks Foundation, PO Box 431, Burlingame, CA 94011.

Thus far, we have recognized the following visionaries for their remarkable efforts: Will Allen (Growing Power), Rafael Alvarez (Genesys Works), Gregory Boyle (Homeboy Industries), Rosalynn Carter (The Carter Center), Joyce Dattner (Bay Area All Stars), Robert Egger (DC Central Kitchen and V3), Dr. Paul Farmer (Partners in Health), Rosanne Haggerty (Common Ground), Lois Lee (Children of the Night), Dr. Jack McConnell (Volunteers in Medicine), Maurice Lim Miller (Family Independence Initiative), Paul Minorini (Boys Hope Girls Hope), Rebecca Onie (Health Leads), Gary Oppenheimer (, and Peter Young (Peter Young Housing, Industries and Treatment).

The Elfenworks Foundation also accepts nominations for the ElfenWorks Award, as a way of celebrating lesser-known individuals or organizations that are working to create change in their local communities. The ElfenWorks Award program aims to recognize those who have otherwise received little recognition.

2013 In Harmony with Hope Award Honorees

[Streaming Event Page] [Press Release IHH 2013] [About IHH 2013 Award]

Join us as we pay tribute a group of changemakers at the In Harmony with Hope awards ceremony on Thursday, September 26, 2013. Look for your invitation in September! Check our awards page for more information.


Christa Gannon, JD (Founder), FLY, Fresh Lifelines for Youth

ihh2013-headshot-gannonChrista Gannon and Fresh Lifelines for Youth (FLY) provide support and the  promise of a new direction to thousands of troubled and at-risk youth in Silicon Valley each year. In 1996, Gannon, a law school student, realized that young people who are in trouble with the law might be less likely to re-offend if they understood the law and the consequences of their crimes. Following a 12-week law course, 70  youth who want and need to transform their lives can enter a one- to two-year leadership training, giving them the skills and support they need to realize their true potential. A two-year mentor program helps another 100 kids struggling with drug or alcohol use, and a middle school platform reaches out to 1,000 at-risk kids before they get into trouble. FLY costs less than 10% the cost of incarceration, and more than 80% of all youth in FLY’s programs share that FLY inspired them to change their lives and helped them develop the skills and confidence to make change happen. In FLY’s Leadership Program 80% get engaged in school following the program.  [harmony page]

Gary Slutkin, MD, (Founder) Cure Violence – formerly CeaseFire

ihh2013-headshot-slutkinEpidemiologist Gary Slutkin’s expertise in combatting infectious disease around the world informs his radically different approach to stemming the tide of violence in American cities. In 2000 he formed Chicago-based Cure Violence (then called CeaseFire), convinced that violence could be halted with a three-pronged approach taken directly from the public health model: first, interrupt the transmission; second, identify and change the thinking of the highest potential transmitters; and third, change social norms. At the core of the program are the violence interrupters and outreach workers—veterans of the street who are carefully recruited and trained to stem the flow of violence. From the first (and formerly worst) neighborhood in Chicago where they began, Cure Violence has effectively reduced shootings and killing by 41-73%, in urban neighborhoods around the country, and indeed, around the world. [harmony page]

Andrew Yang, (Founder) Venture for America

ihh2013-headshot-yangAt Venture for America (VFA), Andrew Yang is redirecting enterprising college graduates into early-stage businesses in underserved American cities. The program is revitalizing American cities and communities through entrepreneurship and allowing top graduates to earn hands-on business experience and grow a culture of achievement. And it provides an alternative to the predictable post-graduate march into low-growth sectors like financial services, consulting, or the law in cities like New York, Boston, San Francisco, or Washington, DC. In just its second year, VFA has placed 120 graduates in two-year fellowships with exciting start-ups in cities like Detroit, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Pittsburgh. The 80 new Fellows in 2013 were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. VFA’s goal is to create 100,000 new jobs by 2025—and they seem to be right on track.] [harmony page]



2012 In Harmony with Hope Award Honorees

[Press Release IHH 2012]  [About IHH 2012 Award]  [Live Streaming]

Rafael Alvarez (Founder), Genesys Works,

In 2002, business executive Rafael Alvarez created Genesys Works to create a pathway out of poverty. The program includes a summer intensive in soft skills and technical training to high school students. In the fall, the newly trained workers are placed into large Fortune 500 corporations to practice on-the-job training. School cooperative education provisions allow for internships to be combined with senior year academics. In a win-win proposition, the students are paid substantially more than minimum wage and the corporations pay less than the going rate for trained IT workers. In 2011, more than 600 seniors caught in a generational povertyloop that doesn’t provide access to living wages, started on their paths to professional careers in Houston, Chicago and the Twin Cities. Expansion plans are on track for programs in cities across the country, including San Francisco. Of special note, 75% percent of Genesys Works’ budget comes from earned income. [harmony page]

Maurice Lim Miller (Founder), Family Independence Initiative,

In 2000, Maurice Lim Miller founded the Family Independence Initiative (FII) to develop strategies that increase the control and choice that low-income people hold in their lives, reinforce community and reward initiative. These new approaches for social and economic mobility use age-old strengths of self-determination, mutuality and choice. Over the past 10 years, in demonstration projects around the country, FII has partnered with 3,500 individuals—placing them in peer support groups that meet monthly andchallenging them to come up with their own solutions. FII incentivizes monthly reporting of data, which provides each family with small amounts of extra capital. By investing in their strengths and initiative, FII is able to deliver powerful, sustainable, and cost-effective outcomes: on average, participants report a 23% increase in earnings and a 240% increase in savings. [harmony page]

Gary Oppenheimer (Founder),,

Gary Oppenheimer conceived of, a nationwide campaign to enable America’s 40+ million home gardeners who grow food to be able to easily share some of their harvest with local food pantries, in 2009. At its core it’s a technology solution that connects, educates and empowers home gardeners and local food pantries. Food pantries are often tiny operations hidden from view with little virtual presence. By enrolling with, they become visible to home gardeners. In just three years, more than 5,400 pantries have been enrolled on and more than 21 million pounds of fresh produce has been delivered to enrolled pantries. The simple but effective solution moves information as much as it moves healthy fruits and vegetables to the 50 million Americans who don’t always know where they’re going to get their next meal. [harmony page]


2011 In Harmony with Hope Award Honorees

[Press Release IHH 2011] [About IHH 2011 Award] [Live Streaming]

Brenda Krause Eheart, PhD (Founder), Generations of Hope Development Corporation,

Disheartened by the state of the foster care system in this country, Brenda Eheart, who had spent years researching Illinois’ foster care system in her role in academia, conceived of an intentional intergenerational village filled with parents raising and adopting foster children and senior citizens volunteering to help support the kids and the community in exchange for lowered rents. Hope Meadows opened on a closed military base in Illinois in 1994. Nearly 20 years later, a dozen families live in the community, free of rent. In exchange, they agree to adopt three or four foster care system children who have slim chances of finding permanent homes. Those children, once the most difficult to place, boast a high 89% permanency rate. [harmony page]

Jim McCorkell (Founder), College Possible (formerly Admission Possible),

When Jim McCorkell founded College Possible in 2000, he joined together his personal knowledge of what it means to grow up in poverty with his belief that education provides the most likely path out of poverty. His goal was to make postsecondary education a reality for the 200,000 at-risk kids each year who graduate high school prepared for college but who, thanks to cultural and functional barriers, aren’t able to get there. College Possible delivers highly personalized support to 9,000 low-income students in the Twin Cities area. Also in operation in Milwaukee and Omaha, Nebraska, College Possible is in the process of scaling up to serve 20,000 students annually across the country in the next several years. McCorkell was the first person in the country to leverage the AmeriCorps service infrastructure for college access, and it is essential to the model’s success. [harmony page]

Bill Milliken (Founder), Communities In Schools,

All his life, Bill Milliken had been told he was dumb, so he stopped caring about school and began hanging out on the streets. A chance encounter with a caring adult who taught him to believe in a different life story, changed Milliken’s life forever. Within a few years, he and a friend had founded 18 schools they called “street academies” in Harlem. Over the next 30-40 years, his work has evolved into what is now the country’s largest dropout prevention program, Communities In Schools (CIS). It was founded in the belief that programs don’t change kids but relationships do. CIS is a unique community model that forms partnerships between schools, families, and community leaders to build a solid support system for students. [harmony page]

2010 In Harmony with Hope Award Honorees

[Press Release] [Post Press Release] [About IHH 2010 Award] [Live Streaming]

Will Allen (Founder), Growing Power,

Will Allen has spent the past two decades crusading to bring healthy, low-cost, sustainable food to the food deserts of our nation’s urban centers through his organization, Growing Power. From a 2.5-acre farm located in the heart of Milwaukee, Allen is feeding the city’s poor, educating a nation about urban farming, and mitigating racism by empowering the minority communities he serves. His farming model incorporates innovative cultivation and distribution network design, including aquaculture, vermiculture, horticulture composting, soil reclamation, food distribution, and beekeeping. Growing Power also runs collaborative projects, teen internships and training projects, which engage city youth in producing healthy foods for their communities.

[harmony page]

Rosanne Haggerty (Founder), Common Ground,

Rosanne Haggerty’s tested innovations in reducing homelessness, rooted in her decades spent directing Common Ground (the largest developer of supportive housing in the country), are being scaled nationally through her leadership of the newly formed Community Solutions. Its 100,000 Homes Campaign coordinates the efforts of national organizations and local communities to collectively house 100,000 homeless individuals and families by July 2013. At Common Ground, she helped house 5,000 individuals in and around New York. The 20-block area around Times Square experienced an 87% drop in homelessness following the opening of Common Ground’s first rehabilitated property.

[harmony page]

Rebecca Onie (Founder), Project Health,

Project HEALTH changed its name to Health Leads on November 8, 2010.
To read more about their new name, click here.

Rebecca Onie was just 17 when she lit upon a simple but powerful idea: college students could volunteer to work with physician/nurse mentors to locate critically needed social resources for children visiting pediatric clinics. As Onie learned, a medical approach does not always solve a child’s chronic health problems if the family is making decisions between paying rent or putting food on the table—much less paying for the prescription. Today, 900 student volunteers help 18,000 people obtain critical resources every year through Health Lead’s Family Help Desks. And, a new generation of leaders is being training to change the system of health care delivery in this country.

[harmony page]

2009 In Harmony with Hope Award Honorees

Father Gregory Boyle, S.J. (Founder), Homeboy Industries,

Father Greg Boyle’s Homeboy Industries is a one-stop shop for those who have decided to leave the world of LA’s gangs behind. Homeboy provides addiction and recovery programs; a full curriculum of classes that includes anger management, parenting, GED and computer classes; and free services such as tattoo removal, mental health counseling, job development, legal counseling and case management. Former gang members help manage and run the enterprise, which includes a bakery, café, and silkscreen operation, and maintenance and retail shops that fund about a third of Homeboy’s operations. Fr. Greg has been a beacon of hope in a blighted landscape. His efforts have directly impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people.

[harmony page]

Robert Egger (Founder), V3 & DC Central Kitchen,

Robert Egger founded the DC Central Kitchen in the mid-1980s, and turned the food bank model on its head. Instead of providing a simple handout, Egger uses food as a vehicle for change: clients become employed cooks through the Kitchen’s Culinary Jobs Training Program; college students learn about service and business in the Campus Kitchen Project; and 4,500 of Washington, DC’s hungry are fed as the Kitchen recycles more than one ton of food every day. The Kitchen additionally provides street outreach and nutrition education for at-risk kids. Egger also galvanizes the nonprofit industry through country-wide talks, pushing for reform and a place on the national stage.

[harmony page]

Rev. Peter G. Young (Founder), Peter Young Housing, Industries, and Treatment,

Father Peter Young has helped inmates and parolees overcome their addictions for more than half a century. Peter Young Housing Industries and Treatment (PYHIT) evolved out of Fr. Young’s firm belief that effective recovery is only possible if treatment is followed up with housing and jobs training. Fr. Young has forged successful public-private partnerships across New York State. The network of treatment, housing and job training programs spans 100 sites. Three thousand people rely on services from PYHIT every day. PYHIT boasts a recidivism rate of less than 10 percent. In all, Fr. Young has helped hundreds of thousands move from addiction to becoming taxpaying members of society.

[harmony page]

2008 In Harmony with Hope Award Honorees

Lois Lee (Founder & Director), Children of the Night,

Lois Lee has spent the past 30 years advocating for and providing help to thousands of children between the ages of 11 and 17 who are forced into prostitution. Children of the Night (COTN) started as a walk-in crisis center and 24-hour hotline. Three decades later, the hotline’s highly trained staff receives 10,000 calls from desperate kids each year. An in-home program started in 1994 provides shelter and nurture for up to 100 teens, and features an onsite school and college placement program. In 2011, Lee initiated With Out Walls (WOW) to bring COTN’s award-winning programs to underfunded and undeveloped teen shelters across the country.

[harmony page]

Dr. Jack McConnell (Founder), Volunteers in Medicine,

Jack McConnell created the first Volunteers in Medicine Clinic in 1994, when he paired a group of retired medical personnel who were searching for a way to continue practicing their profession with a large uninsured population on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. He worked with the state legislature to pass a bill to create a special volunteer medical license that would allow retired physicians to practice medicine at free clinics without taking the licensure exam or paying the fee. Today, the Volunteers in Medicine Institute shepherds the replication of that program—there are 86 VIM clinics in 25 states whose 11,000 volunteers deliver care to more than 100,000 uninsured Americans each year.

[harmony page]

2007 In Harmony with Hope Award Honorees

Rosalynn Carter of The Carter Center,

Rosalynn Carter, co-founder of The Carter Center, created the center’s Mental Health Program, which combats the stigma against mental illness and promotes improved mental health care. She chairs the center’s Mental Health Task Force of eminent persons in the field, and each year brings together leaders of national mental health organizations to foster consensus on pivotal issues. Her advocacy over the decades led to the passage of the Mental Health Parity Act in 2008. Lending her voice to many important causes, Carter also promotes early childhood immunization through the nationwide “Every Child by Two” campaign and assists caregivers through the Rosalynn Carter Institute.

[harmony page] [about our Carter Center partnership]

Joyce Dattner (Founder & Director), Bay Area All Stars,

Joyce Dattner brought one of the country’s largest antiviolence youth development programs to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2002. The All Stars Project (ASP of SF Bay Area) promotes youth development through an innovative performance-based model. This supplemental education approach, which recognizes outside-of-school learning opportunities as crucial to urban children’s success in school and life, provides educational and performing arts activities for thousands of poor and minority young people around the Bay Area. By allowing youth to participate fully in all aspects of its programs, ASP of SF Bay Area empowers its participants to fully develop as learners, producers and leaders.

[harmony page].

Dr. Paul Farmer (Co-Founder), Partners In Health,

Paul Farmer has been successfully delivering quality health care to millions of the world’s poor for nearly 30 years. It began with a visit to Haiti. Today, Partners In Health (PIH) has a presence in 12 countries, including the US. All projects share common goals: to care for patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world. PIH’s Prevention and Access to Care and Treatment project employs community health workers to monitor a group of Boston’s ill and marginalized patients and ensure that their medical and social needs are being met.

[harmony page].

Paul Minorini (President & CEO) of Boys Hope Girls Hope,

Minorini accepting an award from ElfenworksPaul Minorini has been involved with Boys Hope Girls Hope (BHGH) for nearly half his life. The organization helps academically capable and motivated children in  need meet their full potential and become men and women for others by providing family-like support in a home-like environment, and opportunities and education through college. Under his leadership, Boys Hope Girls Hope began a community-based outreach program for children whose home situation did not require out-of-home placement, effectively doubling the number the children that BHGH can serve. Based in Bridgeton, Missouri, Boys Hope Girls Hope currently serves children in 15 U.S. cities, plus Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, and Peru.

[harmony page].

ElfenWorks Award Honorees

Our ElfenWorks Award is meant to serve as a grass-roots involvement-building tool. By enabling private citizens to nominate others they feel worthy of recognition, they may themselves be more likely to get involved in helping others.

To nominate an individual for an ElfenWorks Award, please use our contact page to send an email and note the subject is a nomination for the award. Only nominations received by email will be considered (no telephone nominations please). Please include

  • contact information for yourself (including email address)
  • contact information for the nominee: include full name with proper spelling, mailing address for certificate, and the URL if possible of any the organization this individual is associated with
  • reason you are making this nomination

From time to time, our team will review the nominations we collect and select candidates for recognition, and winners will be posted on this website, until the list is too long to include online.

  • Gregory Kloehn—for an artistic and environmental approach  to housing the homeless—using dumped trash to create tiny homes for those on the streets
  • December Peoplethis collection of superstar musicians (Robert Berry, Gary Phil, Jack Foster, David Medd & Mike Vanderhule) bands together each year to perform in a series of holiday concerts that double as benefits for local food banks
  • Phil Coombesfor shining a spotlight on hunger in southern California and promoting food donations through his Put the Fork in Hunger campaign
  • Kiran Sridhar—for his creation of Waste No Food, a website that helps channel food from the food industry to people in need (of special note, Kiran is still in high school)
  • Peter Hotez, MD—for shining a light on the 5 million Americans suffering from tropical diseases, and marshaling the medical resources to help them
  • Jennifer Pahlka—founder of Code for America, for using technology to connect city governments with their poorest residents
  • Diane Nilan—for putting a face on thousands of homeless persons in America, and for advocating tirelessly on their behalf for more than 25 years
  • Ethan Barolette, Sophia Samant & Emily Sullivan—for providing 18,000 meals for San Franciscans in need, before they even started kindergarten
  • Linda Carlson—for helping women discover their inner strength through her leadership of the Women’s Recovery Association
  • Shawny Anderson—for her exemplary service, from New Orleans to Haiti, and her remarkable teaching skills that are helping to create a new generation of socially active citizens
  • Kathleen Haser—for her quarter century of  inspired leadership of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps East
  • Prince William of Wales—for spending a winter night on the streets of a gritty London neighborhood to draw attention to the plight of the homeless
  • Phil Lebherz—for educating consumers about their rights to basic health care coverage though the Foundation for Health Coverage Education
  • Holly Carver, Crystal Brown, Cece Kaufman Himelstein, Erica Hunt, Michelle Parker & Linda Schaffer—for banding together and organizing opposition to continued cuts in the California state funding for education
  • Phoebe Russell—for raising nearly $4,000 to benefit the San Francisco Food Bank—and she’s just a preschooler! [more about Phoebe Russell]
  • John F. Mello—for his Food Bank Music CD
  • Kermit Kubitz, Jonas Svallin and Dr. Sang-ick Chang—for bravely stepping in and saving a precious human life
  • Ursula Morgenstern—for creating and continuing Backpackpalooza [more about backpackpalooza]
  • …your nominee here?