Bridge becomes inaugural Vanguard member of Million Lives Club

22 October 2019

Today, we’re delighted to have become an inaugural Vanguard member of the Million Lives Club, an initiative designed to recognise innovators and social entrepreneurs and celebrate their impact. The focus is on those scaling and making a significant impact in addressing global development challenges, and the ecosystems and enabling environments that contributed to their growth. A Vanguard member must have impacted over one million lives, of people living on less than US $5/day per capita—according to the World Bank, this is probably around half of all people on the planet.

Inspired by the International Development Innovation Alliance and the Rockefeller Foundation; Million Lives Vanguard members were unveiled at the October OECD meeting in order to increase visibility among donor governments and country-level ecosystems to help innovators scale further and reach the next level of impact. It’s based on the belief that collectively highlighting social innovators that have reached transformative scale will act as a powerful platform to encourage the uptake and scaling of innovations; illustrate the importance of innovation in support of the SDGs; and, increase the use of social entrepreneurs and innovators as key delivery partners for development agencies.

Entrepreneurs by nature are people who generate change, who see and do things differently. They can create wealth, solve problems and save lives. People like Sanjit “Bunker” Roy who has helped thousands of people in Asia and Africa learn technical skills and bring solar power to remote villages; through his Barefoot College, which teaches illiterate women from poor villages how to become doctors, engineers, and architects.

As with Roy’s example, often just meeting some of the most basic human needs are the basis of the largest, most complex and most persistent challenges. Access to things like clean water, healthcare, sanitation and education. 

At Bridge, we believe education is the root of so many other problems, and so this is our focus. Education is the foundation of so many of the Sustainable Development Goals including ending poverty, gender equality, economic growth, peace and much more.

From the beginning, ensuring that every child can access to quality education has been Bridge’s driving mission. Take a look at our impact, history, case studies and community to learn more and listen to the Finding Impact podcast below to learn about how we’ve scaled partnerships with government.

The Bridge story

Shannon May, Bridge co-founder first thought of the idea for Bridge following her experience doing her PhD, living in China. She lived in Huangbaiyu village, Liaoning Province as part of research for her thesis on economic development in rural parts of the country. Unexpectedly, she was additionally given the task of becoming the village English teacher by Governor Zhang Wenyue. 

A picture of Huangbaiyu village.

Shannon and her husband/Co-founder Jay Kimmelman experienced first-hand the daily struggle of a community that hadn’t had the benefits of education and of a remote school struggling without the necessary oversight, resources and support to generate meaningful learning. Together, they set out to help tackle this problem in a way that was scalable and sustainable to meet the needs of hundreds of millions who were out-of-school or in school and not learning. 

Now in its tenth year, the organisation they started together—Bridge—has touched well over one million lives and now operates in five countries: Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Liberia, and India. It runs or supports a range of different education models or partnerships depending upon the needs and requests of local governments and communities; including everything from technical partnerships and public private partnerships to infrastructure partnerships and community schools. Bridge is flexible as long as we can achieve our goal of increasing the number of children who have access to a life-changing education.

Bridge is proud to have been recognised as a member of the Million Lives Club and humbled by the company we keep, and the scale of the challenge still before us. We’re delighted to be a part of a growing global community of partners committed to nurturing innovation ecosystems and helping innovators scale.

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Take a look at our other Awards

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