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Year in Review: 2020

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Dori Kreiger
Executive Director

Throughout a challenging and unusual 2020, CTIA Wireless Foundation stayed committed to supporting social entrepreneurs using wireless for good. During COVID-19, Americans turned to the power of wireless to keep them connected. This year, more than ever, we saw the transformative work of social entrepreneurs solve pressing health and well-being issues.

This holiday season, I took some time to reflect on the key moments and accomplishments of the Foundation this year. While 2020 was not what we expected, I am proud of the Foundation’s work. Before we celebrate the beginning of 2021, let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of this year.

Catalyst Awards $175K to Social Entrepreneurs.

We kicked off 2020 by announcing six semifinalists in the Catalyst program, our competitive grants initiative for social entrepreneurs. Throughout the spring, our team of Catalyst Advisors, experts in the fields of wireless technology, social entrepreneurship, philanthropy and health, narrowed the group down to our three Finalists. In July, we announced our Catalyst 2020 Winners—Objective Zero Foundation, MindRight Health and Pilleve—and awarded $175K to these social entrepreneurs.

We were thrilled to partner with Town and Country for the 2020 Philanthropy Summit this year. From July 7 – 10, over 3,000 viewers from around the globe joined the virtual summit to hear conversations with humanitarians about crisis philanthropy, racial justice, education and more. To kick off the Summit each day, we announced our Catalyst 2020 Winners, highlighting the power of wireless to improve the health and wellness of Americans.

Thank you to our Catalyst 2020 Sponsors! We appreciate the support of AT&T, Qualcomm, T-Mobile, Verizon, Assurant, Intel, American Tower and Bluegrass Cellular.

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Announcing the Catalyst 2020 Winners

Partnerships Accelerate Innovation.

This year, we grew our Accelerator Partnership program, adding two additional partners in addition to our renewed commitment to Fast Forward. In January, we announced a new partnership with the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy. The Do Good Institute seeks to develop the next generation of civic-minded nonprofit leaders and social innovators by encouraging students to use entrepreneurship principles and real-world learning experiences to address significant social issues.

In June, we partnered with Camelback Ventures, an accelerator that identifies, develops and promotes the work of early-stage underrepresented social entrepreneurs that are using the power of wireless to propel societal change. Since 2015, 94% of entrepreneurs who have participated in the Camelback Ventures Fellowship identified as people of color and 60% as women.

2020 Camelback Ventures Fellows
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2020 Camelback Ventures Fellows

We also continued our partnership with Fast Forward, a San Francisco-based organization that invests in social entrepreneurs who are using wireless to solve real-life issues. In July, we hosted Fast Forward’s virtual accelerator program, during which the Foundation board and CTIA employees participated in speed mentoring with the accelerator organizations.

Showcasing Social Entrepreneurs.

Our Catalyst 2020 Winners had the opportunity to meet with policymakers on the Hill and at the FCC. Senator Pat Roberts met with constituent Catalyst Winners Chris and Betsey Mercado, co-founders of the Objective Zero Foundation, and Senator Bob Menendez met with constituent Catalyst winner Ashley Edwards, founder of MindRight Health. Catalyst Winners also had the opportunity to meet with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, and Commissioners and staff from all four FCC Commissioner offices to tell their stories.

In June, we sponsored the Camelback Ventures “Ruthless Pitches” event, where I shared with entrepreneurs the power of wireless as a tool for good and introduced the Foundation and the stories of our Catalyst Winners.

While 2020 wasn’t the year we predicted, I am proud of the work of the Foundation. More than ever before, 2020 showed the power of wireless for good. I look forward to 2021 and continuing to grow our work and impact!

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