Social Swag

Want to feel good, fast? Spend four hours in a room with the top social entrepreneurs in the nation. On January 12, Fast Company and our partner Monitor Group hosted the third annual Social Capitalist Awards celebration in New York, and it was a very cool affair.

All 25 winners showed–Martin Fisher from Kickstart, Chris Elias from PATH, Wendy Kopp from Teach for America, Earl Martin Phalen from BELL–as did leading lights from the philanthropic world. And there was real buzz: These are completely smart people with outrageous energy and persistent dissatisfaction with the status quo.

For the winners, we prepared (as FC contributing writer Cheryl Dahle described them) “the first-ever socially responsible bling baskets.” Tote bags made by Zimbabwean artisans of recycled bottle caps, imported and donated by World of Good. Inside, donated wares from Ben & Jerry’s, Timberland, Clif Bar, ABC Home, Sambazon, and others.

The baskets were assembled by workers from Reciprocity Foundation, a NYC organization that matches hundreds of artistic homeless youths with mentors from the fields of design, fashion and media. It also helps participants secure internships, full-time jobs, and help with college applications and placement.

Just a ton of energy in the room–and proof that entrepreneurship in the citizen sector is a growth business.