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Knight-Hennessy Scholars announces recipients of inaugural Global Impact grants

The first grant recipients of the Global Impact Fund have founded nonprofits focused on education justice and on supporting low- and middle-income Latin American new mothers.

Knight-Hennessy Scholars (KHS) was founded to cultivate a growing global community of visionary, courageous, and collaborative leaders committed to creating positive change in the world. To advance that vision, KHS established the Global Impact Fund, offering one-time grants of up to $100,000 to scholars who have demonstrated a compelling commitment to the greater good by launching a nonprofit designed to improve lives and drive meaningful change.

In June 2023, KHS announced the first recipients of Global Impact grants: Briana Mullen and Sebastián Espinoza. Both will pursue their projects full time after graduating from Stanford.

Briana Mullen, founder of Education Justice Academy (2020 KHS cohort)

Mullen, who pitched her idea for Education Justice Academy (EJA) in 2021 during the annual KHeystone Project Showcase, is seeking to promote education justice by recruiting, training, and supporting local leaders so they have the skills necessary to run for school boards at the district level. EJA’s ultimate goal is to ensure that every district has knowledgeable and capable board members who reflect the diversity of their community and can create sustainable change and improve student outcomes. 

“At this moment in our democracy, school boards have never been more in the spotlight. With the KHS Global Impact grant, Education Justice Academy will create stronger school governance by recruiting local leaders and preparing them to be high-quality school board leaders,” said Mullen, who is pursuing a master’s degree in policy, organization, and leadership studies from Stanford Graduate School of Education and a master’s in public policy from Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences. “This grant comes at a crucial time when stronger school governance is needed, particularly in communities hardest hit by COVID-19, climate change, and continued racial inequality. We are excited to continue forward with the KHS community to build our work in public-school communities across California.”

Sebastián Espinoza (2019 cohort) and Magdalena Espinoza, co-founders of Mi Tribu Foundation

Espinoza and his wife, Magdalena, are the co-founders of Mi Tribu Foundation, a digital platform that also began as a KHeystone Project. The platform supports low- and middle-income Latin American women during their first 1,000 days of motherhood—through pregnancy, postpartum, and early parenthood. With an eye toward improving the health and well-being of new mothers, Mi Tribu Foundation organizes cohorts of women based on their stage and their personal interests while also matching them with health care specialists who can provide the professional care and guidance they need along their journey.

“As parents, my co-founder Magdalena and I have seen the enormous need—and great opportunity—to support Latin American families throughout their baby’s first 1,000 days. Our team includes experience in women’s and children’s health, business, and technology and is passionate about devoting our lives to this mission. We believe that with technology and community at the center, we can improve the way children are born in under-resourced communities,” Espinoza said.

“Thanks to the Global Impact grant, we will formally incorporate and launch Mi Tribu Foundation. We have seen incredible engagement and life-changing testimonies from the 400 families we have worked with this past year, and our next step is to validate the efficacy of our digital group care. With guidance from our mentor, Professor Yvonne (Bonnie) Maldonado at Stanford School of Medicine, this grant will also enable us to finish designing our clinical study to measure the physical and mental health outcomes of our solution,” he said. Like Mullen, Espinoza is pursuing two master’s degrees at Stanford: an MBA from the Graduate School of Business and a master's in public policy. 

Mullen and Espinoza were selected from a pool of applicants whose projects satisfied three key criteria, based on the goals of the KHS Leadership Model: the expected impact of their project to improve lives and benefit the world, the growth potential of the project, and the likelihood of success in terms of growth and impact. To be eligible for a Global Impact grant, recipients must have launched a nonprofit organization or established a fiscal sponsorship with an existing nonprofit organization, and they must be in their final quarter at Stanford. 

“Positive change takes many forms, and the Global Impact Fund is just one way KHS strengthens and empowers its community of scholars and enhances the potential of their ideas,” said Tina Seelig, executive director of KHS. “As the fund supports the work of more Knight-Hennessy scholars over time, this is one of the many ways their real-world impact will extend far beyond the university.”

As recipients of the first two Global Impact Fund grants, Mullen and Espinoza will devote themselves full time during the 12 months after graduation to developing their organizations—from refining the business model and value proposition to building an advisory board and fundraising to secure additional resources. They will also participate in quarterly check-ins with KHS to discuss and reflect on progress to date, challenge areas, and lessons learned. 

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