About Ashoka US

Ashoka Office - 16th Floor


Ashoka US was launched in 2001 when we began supporting social entrepreneurs in the United States as Ashoka Fellows. Together with our partners, we have supported more than 200 social entrepreneurs and connected them into a dynamic peer network to help grow their ideas and impact.

We also work to ensure that every child masters empathy through our Start Empathy initiative, that teens and college students are equipped with changemaking tools and skills through our Youth Venture and Ashoka U programs and that networks of changemakers and social innovators across the US are able to scale their ideas and impact through competitions produced by our Changemakers team.


Our US Fellows work at the leading edge of the most significant social and economic problems of our time. They are practical visionaries – practical in that they are highly attentive to the nuts and bolts of making things work, and visionary in that they often reframe the problem, build roles for others to participate and cast a long-term view for change.

Our Fellows apply creativity and empathy in solving social problems, and they highlight the importance of systems-thinking to get at the root of those problems. They are brilliant and transforming communities around the nation.

And yet . . .

We realized through a recent internal analysis that the majority of our amazing US Fellows live and work in only four cities: Boston, New York City, Washington D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area. And we quickly saw that this geographic breakdown does not begin to reflect the power and breadth of changemaking in the United States.

So in 2016, we committed ourselves to an 'All America: We See Changemakers Everywhere' vision. We decided to change our own story, and to help change the next chapter of social entrepreneurship in the United States, by better incorporating the rich ethnic, racial, gender and geographical diversity that America offers intto the social change landscape. 

All America

We want to find and support leading changemakers across the entire country – from Detroit to Dallas, from the ranches in the Mountain West to the Deep South, from within and across all ethnic groups – and with them shape more innovative, resilient communities everywhere. Our goal is to ensure that a culture of changemaking takes root far and wide – across all America. 

Our "All America" Manifesto

  • We believe changemakers are everywhere, representing all races, classes, religions, and geographical areas.
  • We believe that all of us will someday be called upon to be changemakers to make positive change for our families, for our communities, and for the good of all.
  • We believe that social entrepreneurs are champions of new ways of tackling societal challenges and transforming whole systems.
  • We believe they are powerful forces for good and their presence makes us all more effective agents of change.
  • We believe that social entrepreneurs are everywhere, but that the social entrepreneurship sector has gravitated around a few coastal cities which limits its relevance and impact.
  • We believe this clustering is at least in part a result of internalized biases by networks like Ashoka.
  • We believe a more diverse sector will be better equipped to spot and uncover solutions to problems that are too often overlooked.
  • We believe it is our responsibility to reach out so that the best ideas can flow in and out of all of America.
  • We believe that together we can shape a more dynamic, resilient country where problems no longer outrun solutions.


Feet Changing the World

Connect with Ashoka US

Telephone - 703-527-8300
1700 North Moore St
Suite 2000 (20th Floor)
Arlington, VA 22209
United States

Our Programs

Fellow Organisations

Ashoka’s flagship program, Venture & Fellowship, provides the search, selection and support of leading social entrepreneurs in the United States.  Ashoka US elects Fellows at various stages of their lifecycle as social entrepreneurs, from early-launch Fellows that are just getting an innovative idea off the ground to Senior Fellows that have achieved national or global impact and have made a “scratch on history” with their idea.

Currently, there are approximately 220 Fellows in the United States working to solve the most significant social and economic issues of our time.

Our Fellows are:

  • Building entirely new fields ­­— like Participatory Defense  — to give communities most affected by mass incarceration the avenues to influence the criminal justice process and build a strong legal foundation for more local, sustainable economic activity;
  • Leveling the educational playing field via organizations like Donors Choose, Beyond 12 and the New Teacher Centre
  • Drafting legislation and changing policy at the state level — like the groundbreaking Domestic Worker’s Bill of Rights in New York and California — and at the federal level, too. Paul Reickhoff and his Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America were instrumental in the US Senate’s unanimous passing of the Clay Hunt Bill in 2015 to provide better help for veterans with serious mental health issues.

“I have been constantly blown away by the generosity and vision of Ashoka. They have been unmatched as a thought partner, helping me and my organization to see connections in our work that transcend geographic boundaries and the usual discipline silos. And they have been unparalleled as a connector. My own experience as an Ashoka Fellow has been nothing short of transformational.”   -Jill Vialet, Ashoka Fellow and founder of Playworks 

Jill Vialet


Empathy Banner

The Changemakers Schools program is called Start Empathy in the US.

Start Empathy is an initiative of Ashoka US that launched in 2012 as a community of individuals and institutions that are dedicated to building a future in which every child masters empathy.

Despite how the world is changing, only a handful of children are consistently provided with the learning environments and opportunities that are needed to help them develop the skills they need to thrive. We must shift this pattern. It is urgent that we see young people as changemakers and help them to develop the skills they need to be empathetic and ethical actors who will positively impact their own lives, as well as their communities.

Ashoka’s Start Empathy Initiative expands and leverages Ashoka’s network of social entrepreneurs and changemakers to drive a movement that makes empathy a priority skill for all children. We seek to accelerate society to a tipping point where this idea becomes inevitable because a new framework has taken hold. Our Initiative includes partnering with 85 elementary, middle and high schools around the country that prioritize empathy, teamwork, leadership and changemaking as student outcomes.

CM School Momentus
Youth Venture Logo

Over the last 20 years, Ashoka’s Youth Venture (YV) Initiative has supported more than 18,000 teams to practice changemaking through its “Dream it, Do It Challenge” methodology, which takes a young person through the process of dreaming, developing, launching and sharing a youth-led social venture. Worldwide, YV has impacted 360,000 young people in more than 50 countries. 

In the United States, YV has worked with about 4,000 teams of young changemakers  to launch ventures in all 50 states, with major hubs in  St. Louis, Seattle, Washington D.C., New York City, Boston, Silicon Valley, Concord (N.H.), North Central Massachusetts, San Francisco, Miami, and Minneapolis. 

Our mission is to cultivate an ecosystem that values and supports young people to be changemakers by:

  • Investing in young people to have the transformative experience of launching and leading their own lasting ventures.
  • Creating a critical mass of young people who collectively redefine the youth years as a time of positive contribution.
  • Spreading our message that investing in young people to become changemakers is the key factor for success in every part of society; and
  • Connecting our Venturers to a global network of changemakers.


Ashoka U

Ashoka U collaborates with colleges and universities to break down barriers to institutional change and foster a campus-wide culture of social innovation. Ashoka U empowers emerging leaders with the freedom, confidence, and support to address social problems and drive change. The initiative connects these Changemakers with other students, faculty, administrators, and community leaders to share inspiration, ideas, and resources.

Presently, we have 27 Changemaker Campuses in the United States.

Ashoka U also produces The Commons a virtual, semester-long accelerator for cohorts of institutions that are working on specific building blocks of social innovation education. Participants draw on Ashoka U’s experience working with more than 250 higher education institutions globally.

Ashoka U Exchange, a three-day annual event in the United States with hundreds of higher education innovators who are reimagining how to utilize colleges and universities as platforms to catalyze long-term change and social impact. Here, inspiration is sparked and deep connections are formed with peers who share a passion for higher education and who are devoted to advancing key conversations in the field.

The next Exchange is scheduled for March 2-4, 2017 and will be hosted by Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida.

ASN Logo


The Ashoka Support Network is a global community of successful leaders in their own fields - men and women with a passion for creative and entrepreneurial change - who share Ashoka’s understanding that entrepreneurs are the primary engine for economic and social development. They invest financially to support the work being done by Ashoka and meet regularly in groups to build relationships with each other and help transform the way we think about business.

The Ashoka Support Network envisions a world where there will be no more walls between the citizen sector and any other sector, a world where leaders from all fields and social entrepreneurs work together to solve society’s most pressing social problems. 

Once I began to meet with Fellows and experience their passion and dedication, it became an easy task for me to get more involved and contribute in any way that I could to help their work. What I tell to other ASN members that I’ve recruited is that there are so many opportunities to make a contribution to people who are on the cutting edge of social entrepreneurship. That is what drives me, and I invite them to join me in that pursuit."  - Jose de la Torre, US ASN member 

Jose de La Torres

Changemakers builds the foundation for Ashoka's vision of an Everyone a Changemaker world by activating a global network of social entrepreneurs, innovators, business leaders, policy-makers, and activists in more than 100 countries.

Using a three-step process — frame, convene and ignite — Changemakers works with other Ashoka teams and its global network and partners to build open competitions that celebrate the best ideas and exponentially accelerate social change. Changemakers also delivers ground-breaking analysis in the form of social innovation mapping reports and creates long-term partnerships with corporations and organizations to drive the movement forward. 

In the US, Changemakers has produced about 100 successful challenges with companies like GE, Google, Rockefeller Foundation, Intel, Unilever and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 


Leadership Group Member
Konstanze leads Ashoka in North America and is a member... ...more
Leadership Group Member, North America
Paula Recart is part of the Leadership Group at Ashoka,... ...more
LGM, Ashoka Youth Years North America
Greg Van Kirk is the Co-Founder and President of Social... ...more


US Venture Associate
Alex Vesey is the Venture Associate for Ashoka US. She ...more
Fellowship Manager, Ashoka US
Brittany is the U.S. Fellowship manager. She designs tools, experiences, ...more
Change Manager, Ashoka Support Network (ASN)
Lorena is the Director for the Ashoka Support Network in ...more
Strategy & Partnerships, Ashoka US
Michael is the Strategy & Partnerships Director for Ashoka United ...more
Community/Campaigns Director
Romina is the Chief Innovations Officer on the Empathy team. ...more
Change Leader, US Venture/Fellowship and Integration
Simon is the Director of Venture and Fellowship for Ashoka ...more
U.S. Director of Marketing & Communications
Tara is the North American Director of Communications and Marketing. ...more
Director of Engagement Management, Changemakers
Tim is a Tampa, FL-based Director for Ashoka Changemakers. During ...more