Finalists Selected for Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award to Create a Durable Future for Refugees

December 3, 2020

$12 Million Award Will Fund Bold Solutions for Long-Term Transformational Change in the Lives of Refugees.

Rohingya mother and child

Chicago, IL December 3, 2020 – Today, Lever for Change and ICONIQ Impact announced five finalists for the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award, a competition launched earlier this year to secure a brighter, more durable future for refugees around the world. The $12 million Award, sponsored by philanthropists Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam, and the Sea Grape Foundation, is rooted in the realities faced by displaced people and refugees, and a determination to find and fund bold solutions that will achieve significant social change.

The five finalist projects are:

  • DREAMS for Refugees (Video): Village Enterprise, in partnership with Mercy Corps and IDinsight, plans to scale and evaluate “DREAMS for Refugees”, a program to equip refugees in Uganda and Ethiopia with the skills, supports, resources, and connections they need to become successful entrepreneurs.
  • Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (Video): New American Cities provides an opportunity to rebuild for both new Americans and the cities they call home. Through economic empowerment, social mobility, and the promotion of diverse, inclusive communities, LIRS will create an infrastructure that allows both refugees and their cities to thrive.
  • Resourcing Refugee Leadership (Video): In partnership with refugee-led organizations Basmeh & Zeitooneh in Lebanon, FUNDACOLVEN in Colombia, RAIC in Indonesia, StARS in Egypt, and YARID in Uganda, Asylum Access will build the capacity of other refugee-led organizations to scale up their influence and position refugees to lead solutions for their communities.
  • Southern New Hampshire University’s Global Education Movement (Video): Through the Global Education Movement, refugees across six countries will learn skills, earn accredited bachelor’s degrees, and connect to meaningful, well-compensated careers as agents of change in their communities.
  • Talent Beyond Boundaries (Video): Talent Beyond Boundaries connects skilled refugees to international employers, and advocates for refugees and other displaced people to be able to move internationally for work, leveraging their own skills to move their families towards secure futures.

The Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award was launched in January 2020 to identify actionable ideas that will transform the lives of refugees and displaced people. The five finalists present promising solutions that will not only improve the well-being of refugees in the short term but can also be scaled up to help secure a durable future for refugees in the long term.

“Improving the lives and experiences of refugees is a cause close to our hearts, and we are extremely humbled by the opportunity to sponsor this competition,” said Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam, ICONIQ Capital clients who funded the Award. “With more displaced refugees in the world than ever before, we are seeking to fund a solution that will help refugees access the tools and resources that will make a difference on their path to success. For this reason, we’ve narrowed down our selection to five incredible finalist organizations united by the theme of professional and educational development. Refugees are hard-working individuals, determined to positively impact society, and we could not think of a better way to support them in these efforts than through the funding of this Award.”

The Award was inspired by Lyna Lam’s own experiences. In the 1980s, the Lam family emigrated from Vietnam to the United States, arriving with limited resources. A loan from their local Vietnamese community helped them start a business and achieve stability. Lyna is now the founder and Executive Director of the Wat Khmer Kampuchea Krom, a Khmer Buddhist nonprofit Foundation that works with the Cambodian American community and other refugee groups. Lyna’s husband, Chris Larsen, is an angel investor, serial entrepreneur, Executive Chairman of Ripple and has co-founded and previously served as CEO of several other innovative companies.

The Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award is the first in a series of expected grant competitions facilitated by Lever for Change’s partnership with ICONIQ Impact, ICONIQ Capital’s platform for collaborative philanthropy. In addition to the $10 million provided by the Larsen Lam family, $2 million has been contributed by the Sea Grape Foundation, a family foundation focusing on making catalytic grants across scientific discovery, gender equality, human rights and the environment. The Awardee will also receive customized operational support from Rippleworks Foundation, of which Chris Larsen is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman. Rippleworks runs short-term, high-impact projects where fast-growth social ventures partner with leading industry executives to tackle top operational priorities.

While the $12 million Award will fund only one finalist, ICONIQ Impact is issuing a call to action to engage additional philanthropists to fund the four other finalists.

“Our vision at ICONIQ Impact has always been about bringing like-minded people together to achieve an even greater impact, and we are proud to partner with clients like Chris Larsen and Lyna Lam who are willing to make big bets to support transformational, long-term changes that will make the world a better place,” said Michael Anders, founding partner of ICONIQ Capital. “The Award finalists announced today have some of the most promising ideas to improve the present and future lives of refugees, and we hope that this Award inspires other philanthropists to join Chris and Lyna so that we can fund all five of these critical organizations.”

The Award is being managed by Lever for Change, a nonprofit that helps donors to find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, including racial and gender equity, economic development and climate change.

“Traditionally, societies provide protection and sanctuary for refugees, but rarely do we think about their lives beyond short-term relief efforts,” said Cecilia Conrad, CEO of Lever for Change. “These Award finalists inspire us with their bold solutions to tackle the long-term consequences of displacement for refugees.”

The recipient of the Larsen Lam ICONIQ Impact Award will be announced in March 2021. Learn more about the Award from the sponsors and finalists in their own words [LINK TO FINALIST VIDEO] or visit the Award website: www.larsenlamiconiqimpactaward.org.

CONTACT: Marc Moorghen, Communications Director, Lever for Change, media@leverforchange.org, 773.789.1714

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ICONIQ Capital

ICONIQ Capital is a privately held investment firm that advises select families and organizations. ICONIQ Capital provides bespoke investment opportunities and strategies for our clients to manage their lives, philanthropy, and legacy. Differentiated by an exceptional ecosystem of entrepreneurs backing entrepreneurs, its direct investment platform drives transformation at the intersection of technology and traditional industries. ICONIQ Capital is dedicated to improving the world by channeling ideas, talent, and capital to initiatives that advance society.

ICONIQ Impact

ICONIQ Impact is ICONIQ Capital’s platform for collaborative philanthropy. Inspired by the investment edge afforded by their network of families, founders and portfolio companies across industries, ICONIQ Impact aims to break down silos in philanthropy and scale giving for social change through collaborative initiatives. ICONIQ Impact’s goal is to guide philanthropic capital to proven social entrepreneurs and organizations with scalable models in order to have an outsized, measurable impact on the world’s most urgent problems.

Rippleworks Foundation

Rippleworks Foundation brings the practical support entrepreneurs need to scale faster and improve more lives. Rippleworks leads short-term, high-impact projects where social ventures tackle their top operational challenges by working closely alongside leading startup executives from top Silicon Valley companies (including AirBnB, Netflix, Google). Rippleworks also provides hard-to-find capital required for scale (grants and investments in the $1M-$3M range), and has distributed $40M+ to scaling social ventures since 2018. Rippleworks' Insights program has also equipped 700+ leaders at high-growth social ventures with critical startup and leadership skills through a series of Experts-led workshops. In 2020, Fast Company named Rippleworks one of the world’s Most Innovative Companies.

Sea Grape Foundation

The Sea Grape Foundation pledges to devote the majority of its founding family's resources to leaving our families and future generations a truly meaningful legacy: a world that is sustainable, healthy, safe, and just. The Sea Grape Foundation founders focus on making catalytic grants across scientific discovery, gender equality, human rights and the environment.

Lever for Change

Lever for Change, a nonprofit affiliate of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, helps donors to find and fund solutions to the world’s greatest challenges, ranging from racial and gender equity to economic development and climate change. Building on the success of the MacArthur Foundation’s $100 million competition, 100&Change, Lever for Change customizes and manages open and transparent competitions for donors. In addition, we match donors with nonprofits and social enterprises in our Bold Solutions Network whose solutions to significant social challenges were highly ranked after rigorous evaluation in one of our competitions. Currently, Lever for Change is managing nine competitions, ranging in size from $10-to-100 million, awarding $295 million to grant recipients and strengthening dozens of top organizations.

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