Archive for the ‘ Grant Recipients’ Category

PinkThink Wins January’s Qualification Grant

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

After revealing January’s Amber Grant Finalists last Monday, we’re happy to announce our third qualification grant winner, Makeda Ricketts, founder of PinkThink.

Read on to learn all about Makeda and her company.

Makeda Ricketts


WN:Talk about the concept of PinkThink and how you arrived at that name.

MR: The disconnect between STEM subjects and girls was something that had been bothering me for a while. I had worked with a lot of organizations that were geared towards enriching the education of girls outside the classroom but often had trouble keeping girls engaged in subjects like math and science.

However, the real catalyst for me starting PinkThink was my little sister. As she got older I really wanted to create something for her and girls like her that would that would keep them engaged in STEM subjects.

The first thing I did when starting PinkThink is ask girls what was keeping them from being interested in STEM. A common response was that they found STEM boring and wanted it to be more inline with their interests. The main focus of PinkThink is bridging the gap between STEM education and the social and fun activities that tween girls typically enjoy.

Another recurring response from girls was that girls are not typically good at STEM or would have to work really hard to learn STEM subjects like math. I came up with the name PinkThink to get girls to think about STEM as something that is natural, intuitive and part of their everyday lives.

WN:Currently, girls can design their own virtual nail polish on the website. What other products will be unveiled down the line?

MR: Our first game PinkEngineer is designed to teach girls STEM by having them develop, design and market a variety of products. We started with nail polish because girls really wanted that to be the first product. We just had another testing session with nine girls right before we launched the game and they told us they really want lip-gloss to be the next product. They even told us the types of bottle designs they want, etc. so we are currently working on creating a lip-gloss version of the game.

Also, a lot of girls have expressed an interest in having DIY chemistry activities that they can do at home, so we are also working on creating an activity center that would teach girls how to create these products in real life.

WN: How will you monetize the business?

MR: We currently work with a lot of charter schools. They have already bought games that we have designed specifically for their after-school programs and certain classes. Although we offered PinkEngineer for free, we do plan to start charging the general public for our games as well, starting with a fun coding game we are offering in March.

WN: What does the future hold for PinkThink? What are your long-term goals?

MR: We plan to create an array of games for each of the four areas of STEM. We started with Engineering but now we really wanted to focus on Technology. Our next game we are working on is a coding game that will teach girls programming skills. We are really excited about it and the feedback from girls has been amazing. We plan to launch the game in March.

Long term I really want to expand PinkThink and create a foundation focused on closing the digital divide that exists due to economic and social inequalities. I think it is imperative that kids in inner cities and also in third world counties learn STEM and have the skills to not only make use of the current technology but also to innovate and create new technologies.

As always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!

If you’d like to vote for Makeda to win the $2,000 Amber Grant you can vote for her here.

The Functional Pelvis Wins December’s Qualification Grant

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

After announcing December’s finalists this past Friday we’re happy to announce our second qualification winner, Lindsey Vestal founder of the Functional Pelvis.

Read on to learn more about Lindsey and what her company does.

Lindsey Vestal
The Functional Pelvis

WN: For those that aren’t familiar with your line of business, would you mind providing a short summary of what the Functional Pelvis is?

LV: The Functional Pelvis is a private physical and occupational therapy practice dedicated to improving the lives of women and men who suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction and complications.

Though an embarrassing dinner topic for some, pelvic floor dysfunction affects millions of people (43 million people suffer from incontinence, ranking higher than other chronic diseases such as diabetes, which affects 21 million.) Many don’t know that proven therapeutic exercises and non-surgical treatments are available, which can drastically improve their quality of life when suffering from urinary and bowel urgency, frequency, chronic constipation, pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic pain.

The Functional pelvis empowers people to regain control of the most basic human functions. And we offer this in the privacy and convenience of people’s own homes. My clientele includes pre- and postnatal women, post-menopausal women, men with prostate issues, and both men and women with gastrointestinal issues and pelvic pain.

I find it such a privilege to enable people to talk about topics that can often be challenging to discuss; I enjoy helping them to feel comfortable and at ease. Once they find pelvic rehab, I often hear how comforting is it that someone finally understands the challenges that they have been dealing with for often many years. The topics that I discuss and treat are often overlooked by most practitioners either because they don’t know how to ask the right questions or the patient may be uncomfortable to bring it up. I have heard topics like incontinence described as the “hand on the doorknob” conversation. If a patient actually feels comfortable bringing it up to their gynecologist or general practitioner, it may be as they are leaving. I take great pride in that these same topics are brought up when my patients walk in the door, not when they leave.

WN: What first made you want to become an Occupational Therapist?

LV: Occupational therapy (OT) focuses on getting clients back to being able to participate and enjoy life again. What’s even better is that OTs roots are in mental health – this means that OTs treat the whole person, whether the primary dysfunction relates to physical or mental health, or as is more than likely the case, a combination of both. This holistic viewpoint is what first fascinated me with the profession; I loved looking at all the factors that contributed to a person’s ailment. This viewpoint significantly helps people with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction because while it’s a physical dysfunction, it greatly impacts psychosocial issues.

When I became aware that the muscles in the pelvic floor were just like any other muscle in the body, I realized that I could make a significant on the quality of life of the people I work with. People often become very withdrawn from participating fully their lives when incontinence or pelvic pain becomes a struggle for them. It is so rewarding to be able to empower them to take control over the very basic function of bowel and bladder management.

WN:Do you find clients are more willing to ask for help when they can receive treatment from the privacy of their own home?

LV: By providing care in the privacy of my patient’s home, it directly leads to better outcomes because they are much more comfortable being in their own space versus a more clinical or busy environment such as a gym. Also, it’s a privilege to treat them in their own space because I can suggest home modifications that help promote their healing such as assessing their toilet height or their bed and sleeping positions. For new mothers, we look at body mechanics such as crib and changing table height, holding the baby, best breast feeding positions, etc. My clients don’t need to worry about travel or even finding childcare. When you experience urinary or bowel issues, it can be hard to even just leave the house. The concept of providing therapy in-home for pelvic floor dysfunction is practical and sensitive to the problem their experiencing.

Here’s an example. One of my patients is a writer who spends 10 hours a day sitting at his home office. He was experiencing pain in his rectum with sitting and with defecation.

While at his home, I assessed the chair he uses to write, his dining room chair and couch, and his toilet height (a contributing factor to pelvic floor dysfunction). I was able to suggest home modifications and could tailor it specifically for his environment while I was in his apartment. This model of specialized, specific care is exactly what I needed when I had my own pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.

WN: Is any medication required during the treatment process?

LV: No, the wonderful thing about this type of rehab is its conservative nature. There is no surgical intervention or medication requirement. It really is just rehab for your private muscles. It is not so different than if you injured your knee and you sought therapy to regain function. My goal is to get help my clients stronger, reduce pain, and go to the bathroom with ease.

WN: Any plans to expand your practice outside of the New York City Region?

LV: My mobile rehab model includes Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. My expansion plan includes hiring a large staff of Occupational and Physical Therapists to further serve the greater NY city region whose population is nearly 20 million people! For the foreseeable future, we may be quite busy reaching as many of these people as we can : )


As always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!

If you’d like to vote for Lindsey to win the $2,000 Amber Grant you can vote for her here.

Stretch Recipes Wins The First Qualification Grant!

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

We’re excited to announce we have our first Qualification Grant Winner! Congratulations Lauren Foster, CEO of Stretch Recipes.

Last week we introduced Stretch Recipes to you along with November’s four other qualification finalists.

Since then we interviewed Lauren to learn a little more about herself, her chef, and the Stretch app…

Lauren Foster
Stretch Recipes

WN: Do you or your brother use the Stretch app to help save on money?

LF: There’s a huge hope that we both will. I know that I will! I can’t wait to go grocery shopping with it for the first time.   We are building it so that it empowers users that are already stretched for time and money to make delicious and nutritious menu plans for their families.   We’re still signing people up to test. It’d be great to have more sign-ups on our website so we can make it the best grocery tool on the market.

(Here’s the link to test the Stretch Recipes App!)

WN: I saw that the app sends coupons too. Are those tailored to your specific shopping list?

LF: The App’s coupons will match the items on the shopping list. Therefore, if you’re making beef lasagna for dinner, we will match them to available coupon/offers.

WN: When filling out the form to test the app I noticed we had to tell you what foods we dislike. Will the app incorporate that into our specific shopping lists?

LF: Yes, you will be able to eliminate food dislikes or can’t haves. So if you’re allergic to chickpeas, recipes that are chickpea based won’t factor. If you don’t like mushrooms, as long as it’s not a key ingredient, when you select the recipe, it won’t show up on your shopping list.

WN: Could this application work for college students?

LF: Absolutely! We’re working on adding more non-stove recipes that students can easily create in their dorms without having to fall back to only ramen.

WN: How did you meet Jonathan Freeman, your Stretch Chef?

LF: A friend of mine, Aimee was a Manager at the Daily Grill in Austin. Before she moved, she told me she had someone for me to meet. She introduced me to Jonathon. This was before I ever knew I would be starting this mission. So about 8 months or so later, I was just starting the company and validating the idea. I also got the opportunity to do a cooking class for 20 people who worked daily with my initial target market. The night before the event, the Chef flaked on me. I called Aimee because I she knew plenty of people in Food & Beverage. She said, “Why don’t you call Jonathon?” She gave me his number. I told him about starting my mission and he immediately said, “Yes! I’d love to teach people and test out recipes.” He came and the class went perfectly! He’s had my back ever since.

WN: Is there a set date for the app to release? And what devices will it be available on?

LF: It’ll be on all devices with web access. We’re going to start with the web until we get everything tested and down to a science. Then, we’ll go native on Android and iOS.   We haven’t set a date yet, but we’re ambitious and targeting Spring 2015 for a limited group in Austin to have access to the web app.


As always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!

If you’d like to vote for Lauren to win the $2,000 Amber Grant you can vote for her here.

Solar Puff Announced October’s Amber Grant Winner!

Monday, November 17th, 2014

The results are in! After reviewing October’s finalists our judges have finally made their decision on our 2014 October Amber Grant recipient. Huge congratulations to Alice Chun, founder of Solight Designs, Inc.

Alice and her team are the proud inventors of SolarPuff, the first flat, packable, and inflatable solar lantern.  The lantern is designed to provide an affordable and renewable light source to disaster relief victims all over the world. SolarPuff is the first flat packable and inflatable solar lantern. It is designed to provide an affordable and renewable light source to disaster relief victims.

Solar puff uses the principles of origami and foldable design to “pop” open from a flat envelop into a cube with a very simple pull motion to diffuse the light after charging. It’s a lightweight solution that can be packaged, stored, and shipped with ease.

Our team thought her product had so much potential and we’re eager to share it with you.

Girl and Solar Puff
Alice Chun
Solight Designs, Inc

WN: How did the idea of using an origami design for the lamp come to you?

AC:I had been experimenting with origami in my design projects and was fascinated by the clean adaptability of the form and the flat pack ability of folding in origami.
My son also was learning this while I was developing the design


WN: Do the solar lamps need a certain amount of light or time to charge?

AC: Yes they need 5 hours for 5-8 hours of light


WN: What’s the next step for Solight Designs if you receive your patent?

AC: We are already in contract with a distributor in japan to sell the solar puff in the camping market and disaster relief market in japan.


WN: Will the SolarPuff be available for purchase in the United States?

AC: Yes! We are planning on selling in the US this month!


WN: Do you have any advice for women entrepreneurs in the green industry?

AC: My advice is to never ever give up on your dreams; no matter what downfalls you may have, or no matter how many people tell you you’re wrong. You just have to keep going and find the people that are like minded, that believe it’s possible. Then eventually it will happen just because you perceiver.

“The surest way to fail, is to give up.”


As always, thank you for reading! Remember we award a grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply!

Puffs Preserves Wins September Amber Grant

Friday, October 10th, 2014

We recently announced the five finalists for September and today we are excited to finally share our Amber Grant winner!

Congratulations Kirsten Farabi, owner of Puff’s Preserves!

Puffs Preserves KF
Kirsten Farabi
Puff’s Preserves


WN: For those who haven’t visited your website yet, tell us a little more about your creation and what sparked your idea.

KF: I used to teach history! I have always been fascinated with past cultures, politically and socially. The Jazz Age, Prohibition Era always seemed like such an interesting time to me. This is when my family came to the United States in search of a new beginning as well. My grandfather started his own business, but of course, saw the opportunity to bootleg sugar and spirits (like most folks at that time). My grandmother taught me from a young age how to preserve our bounty on the farm; always creatively and full of spices, herbs, and unique flavors. Together, they were the inspiration for my boozy jams. My branding is inspired by this part of US history, and named after my grandfather Hugo “Puff” Farabi.  I use Colorado spirits, and non GMO, fresh, organic ingredients.

WN: Do you have a favorite Boozy Jam?

KF: It’s hard to pick a favorite because all of the flavors are so different! I will say the most popular flavor overall is the Blackberry Bourbon Lavender. I make it with local honey instead of sugar, and the lavender adds a unique herbal note.

WN: When will people be able to purchase your Jam online?

KF: Customers will be able to order a mixed six-pack of jam online at the end of November. I am currently redoing my labels and jars. The new jars will make a great drinking glass when it is emptied!

WN: What’s the next step for Puff’s Preserves?

KF: As we speak, I am waiting for the landlord to arrive to show me an open space in Denver! The next steps for Puff’s are to find my own space to call home where I can cook my jams, sell local provisions, and run a speakeasy in the basement where I’ll serve cocktails made with my jams. Exciting times!

WN: Do you have any advice for other women entrepreneurs?

KF: It may sound cliché, but my advice to female entrepreneurs is to make sure you love what you do. There will be days you have to remind yourself why you started. Persevere, and push through the difficult times. There will be set backs, mundane tasks (accounting!), critics (they laugh at you, then they copy you), and a learning curve. You only learn from making mistakes. All of this makes you a better businesswoman in the end. Be tough as nails, but wear fabulous and comfortable shoes.


Thank you for reading! Remember we award an Amber Grant every month – if interested, here’s the link to apply! We hope you all have a great weekend!

SmileOnU Win’s August’s Amber Grant!

Monday, September 15th, 2014

After announcing our finalists late last week. We’re happy to finally be able to announce this months Amber Grant winner. Meet BB, founder of the non-profit organization, SmileOnU.

Read on to learn more about her organization’s mission to create healthy and beautiful smiles.

BB Maboby Bahadarakhann


WN: What gave you the idea for SmileOnU?

BB: Born into a refugee camp in Thailand during the Khmer Regime, I always wanted to give back to the community for saving my family from a dismal situation. I was 10-months-old when my Pakistani and Cambodian parents and family were relocated from the Thailand to Chicago, IL through the aid of the United States government. Even with nothing, my parents were both very giving people. As a young child, I saw the radiant energy they received by giving and it was contagious! It was the way I wanted to live my life. It was the most beautiful thing.” After graduating college in 2009 and I worked in oral surgery sales, where I often coordinated the interaction between dentists, clients, laboratories and implant companies to assure surgeries went smoothly. I noticed the cost of these procedures was out of reach for those who needed them the most and realized something needed to bridge this glaring gap. My vision in the creation of the non- profit organization, “SmileOnU” was a way to change this and bring hope to people who have limited means for such extensive dental procedures.

WN: How many patients do you take on in a year?

BB: SmileOnU works to give the gift of smile! We are currently taking on 1 Hardship case a month. Our goal is to give 100 smiles a year to those in greatest need.

WN:  How are individuals chosen to receive dental help, are they nominated or do they have to apply?

BB: We work with the local foster homes and different resource centers. We also have an open application online.


  • Foster Youth
  • Former Foster Youth
  • Low-income College-age youths and adults with physical disabilities
  • Young adults, 18-25 years old, who have been raised in the child welfare system and are responsible for their own financial support
  • Adults, ages 25 or older, with dependents in their family unit

WN: Do you run specifically off of donations, or fund raise all of the expenses?

BB: We run solely on donations and contributions.

WN: Are you planning on expanding your business in the near future?

BB: We are currently establishing a network of volunteer dental professional across the United States in hopes to give the gift of smile


Thank you for reading! Remember we award an Amber Grant every month – if interested here’s the link to apply! We hope you all have a great day!