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An In-Depth Look at Seattle’s Leading Social Innovators – Part 2 of 2

Posted by Kevin Owyang

an-in-depth-look-at-seattle2019s-leading-social-innovators-part-2-of-6.jpgThe pool of applicants to this year’s past Social Innovation Fast Pitch Competition (SIFP) was extremely strong, and each one of the quarterfinalists presented a great story. In this two-part series, SVP Partner Kevin Owyang explores a collection of quarterfinalists, their stories, and highlights their innovative concepts for efficiently impacting social and environmental change in the Seattle area. This article was originally posted in the Fast Pitch blog.

Adaptive Leadership Institute

Veterans returning from combat face a myriad of physical, psychological, and emotional issues. Therefore, Adaptive Leadership Institute is developing the Surf Patriot Program for Washington State veterans injured in combat. Building on the work done by Operation Amped, The Jimmy Miller Foundation, and the Naval Medicine Center in San Diego, Adaptive Leadership Institute seeks to strengthen men and women physically, mentally, and emotionally by teaching the art of surfing, assisting them overcome the constraints of their disability, and conducting research into the rehabilitative effects of surfing.

Formed by three passionate veterans who love surfing and want to share the joy of surfing, Adaptive Leadership Institute intends to work with the Warrior Transition Battalion on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Why are they doing this? They believe that surfing goes beyond recreation and rehabilitation; it is a spiritual experience as well.

Art Ops

These days, iPhones and iPads draw kids like a lightbulb draws moths, but they can be easily overwhelmed by apps that teach them new ways to waste time. This is the observation of David Kaill, founder of Art Ops, who recycles iPhones and installs applications that teach kids creativity through photography, animation, songwriting, and filmmaking; he also plans to ship them to schools across the Puget Sound, as well as Nairobi and Kenya.

Art Ops believes that mobile devices should be used to engage kids in creative play. This is why they’re aiming to distribute their phones in ten Puget Sound schools this fall, and to connect those schools through their Lens Pal program in order to distribute phones throughout Africa.


When people in lands without freedom face persecution by an oppressive government, the United States offers them refugee status and invites them to a better life in this country. However, without providing them with the skills and experience for employment, have we set these people up for failure? This is the challenge that FEAST seeks to address.  Founded by Veena Parad, former Project Manager for Procter & Gamble at Pampers in Europe, and owner of Veena’s Market, an Indian food e-commerce business, FEAST seeks to empower refugee women by developing real-world skills to make them employable or able to start their own business.

Because many refugee women lack work history in the U.S., their blank resumes make them invisible to employers. In fact, the job placement rate for refugees in King County is less than 30%. Spending on refugee aid programs is less than 15% in Washington state.

These women do have incredible assets – for one, their knowledge of and skill for preparing delicious ethnic foods. By offering women paid, on-the-job-training through a one or two year program working in a food truck or catering business, FEAST seeks to help these women gain resume-building experience while also helping them enhance the American experience. For FEAST, that can begin with something as simple as lunchtime for the 400,000+ office workers in the greater Seattle area.

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