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Young California Innovators Take Top Three $40K Awards at This Weekend’s 2023 Westly Prize


MENLO PARK, Calif.–()–On January 29, three winners of the 2023 Westly Award for Young Social Innovators were announced, collecting each $40,000. The Westly Foundation has funded more than $1 million in Westly awards over the past decade to young innovators with new early-stage solutions to community and global challenges.

As described by Steve Westly, co-founder of the Westly Foundation, “It’s the next generation that will solve many of our biggest challenges. We want to support the entrepreneurial spirit of these talented young people as they work to create a better world. Their dedication is extraordinary and we are seeing amazing solutions to age-old problems.”

This year’s finalists, all in their 20s, emerged from a pool of more than 100 California-based applicants. At Saturday’s event, eight finalists presented themselves to a five-judge panel at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. The following three teams were named winners:

WONDERFIL, gas stations diverting plastic from oceans and landfills – Amelia Eichel and Shiloh Sacks

  • Wonderfil stations allow consumers to dispense and refill their daily use in lieu of single-use plastic waste.

  • Wonderfil has successfully piloted charging stations at two University of California campuses, Berkeley And Santa Cruzwith 800 users.

  • Amelia and Shiloh, from Alameda And Los Angeles respectively, they will dedicate their own Westley Award expand Wonderfil stations throughout California.

ATLOS, a visual investigative tool for journalists – Noah Schechter and Miles McCain

  • When the Russian invasion of Ukraine spawned a huge volume of eyewitness media and left journalists with outdated methods of preserving vital historical documents, Stanford University graduate students, Noah Schechter and Miles McCain recognized the urgent need to create Atlos: an open source platform dedicated to collaborative visual investigations.

  • Atlos continues to serve as a purpose-built database for media verification, powering the open source news organization, Bellingcat global authentication project.

  • Noah and Miles, originally from Los Angeles and New York respectively, intend to use their own Westley Award prize money to expand service to investigative partners around the world.

CAPD PERIOD, end period of the menstrual cup poverty – Hannah Wilen and Neil Bhatia

  • CapdCup is the first menstrual cup that can be emptied without removal, reinventing the future of period care for the billions of women disproportionately impacted by water crises around the world.

  • CapdCup was born while Neil was in graduate school at University of California, Berkeley; however, he and Hannah now run the business Santa Monica.

  • Their Westley Award allows them to distribute 10,000 CapdCups to women in Uganda.

Anita Yu, co-founder of the Westly Foundation, explains why: “It’s nice to be able to give something back. California has created significant opportunities for my husband and I. We want to make sure we plant seeds for these innovators and in return the future of California.”

To access media resources from the event, click here.


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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