Congratulations! The 7 finalists for the I Will Teach You To Be Rich Scholarship

Ramit Sethi · February 2nd, 2009

About a month ago, I announced the I Will Teach You To Be Rich Scholarship for Social Innovation, a $2,500 award for a pro-social entrepreneurial venture.

I received over 200 applications from around the world, and today I’m thrilled to announce the finalists.

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Christina Maria DesVaux, 25, Montevideo, Uruguay. Founded The Curation Project, a web-based store that allows local merchants to sell their local goods sustainably and online.

Kjerstin Erickson, 25, Oakland, CA. Founder and Executive Director of Forge, an organization that provides economic and educational skills to African refugees living in refugee camps.

Robert Garey, 27, and Jennifer Hovee, 23, both of Seattle, Washington. Providing value-added micro-loans to former prostitutes in the Dominican Republic (via Esparanza International.

Garrett Gravesen, 28, Atlanta Georgia. Co-Founder & Co-Executive Director, Global L.E.A.D. Program, a non-profit that has worked with more than 1,000 volunteers to help children affected by HIV/AIDS. (See him on

Greg McGrath, 24, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Founder of EOS International, a not-for-profit company that focuses on empowering the poor with technology.

Stephanie Sud, 24, San Francisco, CA. Board member of Ashraya, a micro-charity in Northern India that provides grants and aid to over 3,000 girls and women.

Claire Adams Williams, 26, Argentina (currently reading at Oxford University, MBA 2009 Skoll Scholar for Social Entrepreneurship ). Co-founder of Hope Runs, an organization in East Africa that partners with AIDS orphanages to provide extracurricular programming for orphaned children.

What made these finalists stand out? Their applications were superior, they had demonstrated entrepreneurial excellence, and they had an uncommon sense of realism at the challenges they’re tackling. They dreamed big: When they detailed what they would use the award for, none of these finalists planned to use the money on advertising (which is equivalent to flushing your nonprofit money down the toilet). Instead, they showed how they’d executed on their plan, and what the scholarship would do for them going forward.

I’ll announce the winner later this February, but I was really pleased at the quality of many of the applications — not just the finalists.

The point of this scholarship is to give people the resources — money, mentoring, and connections — to help them create a successful pro-social program that scales. And to show that we don’t have to wait until some mythical day to give back to others.

To all applicants: I appreciate the amazing applications I got, and I plan to continue and expand this program over time.

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  1. Claire at Choyster Cash

    Thanks Ramit –

    Hope Runs and I are thrilled to be up there!


  2. the weakonomist

    Wow, sure makes my efforts to do good in the economy seem pitiful. Way to go for all the finalists!

  3. Cool project. It would be cool to do see a post where you interviewed all these finalists and got little tips from them on how they got their non-profits started, what the unexpected difficulties were, that sort of thing.

  4. The Personal Finance Playbook

    Congrats to the finalists…good luck in your endeavors and keep us updated.

  5. Hey that’s cool. I wish I had known about this – I’d love to have applied. I guess I came too late. Anyway – Congrats to everyone!

  6. Ditto on Saleem’s suggestion. If not a video interview, perhaps a podcast or a text posted interview of these finalists who took common ideas but put them into action & created a real foundation.

  7. Awesome thing you are doing for others, Ramit. Same goes to all the applicants.

  8. Garrett at Global LEAD

    Thanks so much from Global LEAD.

  9. Wow! I am extremely impressed with the energy and efforts that these finalists have put together to make this world a better place for others. i wish that there are more people like this out there.

    Ramit: I have always been a fan of your site ever since three years ago. I am a big supporter of starting a side business for those who would like to earn more than their current job since it is very hard to ask for a promotion at work these days. we should be lucky even to just have a job in this economic tsunami.

    I would like to introduce an awesome tool called that is an extremely easy to use tool for anyone who would like to create their own side business. You do not need to know any programming at all to create a website. Airset has all the tools it takes to create and publish your website. You can access all the applications, tools, and storage space that come with your Web Computer. Many virtual assistants use the website to manage their own business. i would like to share my experience using airset to manage many groups that i am currently involved in such as the community service initiative group that i am leading at my work place, the bay area chapter that i am reactivating for institute of industrial Engineer and the virtual assistant business that i am currently starting. please do not hesitate to ask me more info on

  10. Christina Maria DesVaux

    Thanks Ramit for this!

    On a sidenote: I was contacted by a young woman named Sara who found me through your site and is interested in doing something like the Curation Project but in Peru. I´m thrilled to connect to others interested in bringing fairly traded crafts to market!

    Best from the deep south,

  11. Lisa DiMona

    Congratulations to the 7 finalists. So impressive and worthy. And good for you, Ramit, for your support of young entrepreneurs!

  12. I Will Teach You To Be Rich Scholarship for Social Innovation « there must be more

    […] Scholarship for Social Innovation 7 02 2009 Last week, my team was honored to be selected among seven finalists in the I Will Teach You To Be Rich Scholarship for Social Innovation.  Ramit Sethi, author of the […]

  13. Forex Phantom

    Great article love your way of writing.

  14. All the projects are definitely inspiring! Considering the seven you chose I’m sure that most of the applications were quality and that choosing just seven was difficult.

    I noticed that most of them were benefiting places other than the US. I was curious to find out the ratio of applications from organizations which help people in the US vs. those who help people outside of this country.