Yale alumna wins ‘best social impact pitch’ in first Unite For Sight innovation competition

“What Stanford is to classic tech entrepreneurship, Yale is becoming to social entrepreneurship,” Carlos Watson wrote in OZY on Jan. 2, 2014, citing alumni founders and leaders of groups ranging from the Children’s Defense Fund to the Global HealthCorps. “If you want to find someone who is likely to help change the world, you would do just as well to look to New Haven as Palo Alto or Silicon Valley. And you would do even better to pay attention to Yale’s women.”

Lucy Topaloff

The power of Yale women social entrepreneurs was underscored recently when Unite For Sight, founded by Jennifer Staple-Clark ’03, honored Lucy Topaloff ’13 for the “best social impact pitch” in its inaugural GHIC Innovation Prize competition during its 12th annual Global Health & Innovation Conference held March 28-29 in New Haven.

Topaloff’s pitch for “An Innovative and Low-Cost Solution for Clubfoot Treatment: The Miraclefeet Brace” was chosen by a panel of expert judges as the best from among 20 semifinalists in a competition that saw hundreds of entries. Topaloff accepted the $10,000 first prize for miraclefeet.

The miraclefeet organization focuses on providing proper treatment for children in the developing world who were born with clubfoot. The non-profit group partners with orthopedic surgeons working in public hospitals to establish and support clubfoot clinics in a dozen countries in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. The miraclefeet brace aims to offer a low-cost, comfortable, accessible treatment for children with clubfoot everywhere.

Topaloff began work with miraclefeet the summer before her senior year and applied for a grant to work on the miraclefeet brace after graduating from Yale in 2013. She worked with the group and its South African partner, STEPS, for the past year and became the program coordinator for the brace in September 2014..

Unite For Sight describes its annual Global Health & Innovation Conference as the largest global health conference and social entrepreneuriship conference in the world; it brings together 2,200 professionals and students from all 50 states and more than 55 countries. Founded by Staple-Clark in her dorm room in 2000 while she was a student at Yale, Unite For Sight is a leader in providing cost-effective care to the world’s poorest people. It has provided eye care services to more than 2 million people worldwide.

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