04/30/2019

In March, we launched a campaign to shine a spotlight on leaders across America who are taking on some of today's toughest social challenges. We highlighted 20 breakthrough leaders from our network and the groundbreaking work they do every day. As part of the campaign, we also ran a nomination process where we asked people to share with us social impact leaders in their networks who inspire them.

We received almost 100 nominations, all of which were inspiring and telling of how much amazing work is being done in communities across the country to advance equity and opportunity. Over the last few weeks our team reviewed all of the nominations and based on the words of their friends, family, and colleagues we have chosen five amazing winners!

We are excited to introduce our community to this breakthrough leader, Jennifer Jacobs. Jennifer is Co-Founder and CEO of Connect Our Kids, an organization that is building smart technology to connect every foster child to a loving family and brighter future. Keep reading to read the nomination that drove us to select Jennifer and to hear about her goals and vision for the future.

 

BREAKTHROUGH LEADER NOMINATION

"Jennifer has a PhD in nuclear physics. She had a well paying steady job as an analyst tracking nuclear materials and threats world wide. She then learned about the 400,000 plus kids in the US foster care system. She discovered that while her work environment leveraged advanced technology to discover families and relationships of people outside the US - the foster care system in the US does not have those same tools. She put her career on hold, and started Connect Our Kids.

She has recruited a dedicated team of volunteers, raised over $200k in technology development funds, and delivered game changing technology to social workers. Her impact has been large, and on its current trajectory will become immeasurable. US federal, state, and local governments spend $9 billion every year to house and find permanent homes for foster kids. Under Jennifer's guidance, Connect Our Kids will give social workers free modern tools that will make finding extended family members much easier. This will dramatically improve the lives of foster kids nation wide for decades to come.

I am the CTO at Connect Our Kids, and have had a front row seat to this change. Jennifer's vision deserves the attention it has received. Connect Our Kids was selected from over 50 other game-changing applicants as Accenture's Innovate for Good Challenge winner in late 2018. Burke and Herbert Bank selected Connect Our Kids from many general charities in 2017. Most importantly, social workers from 5 states have championed her vision in their organizations.
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HEAR FROM JENNIFER JACOBS ON HER VISION FOR THE FUTURE

What is your big audacious goal?

My goal is that every foster child is able to grow up as part of a permanent, caring family, and have a positive support network of people who want to see them be successful.

How can we make progress towards achieving this goal?

A practical victory within reach is to bring the technology revolution to foster care. The child welfare community must be able to fully support the children and families with whom they are engaged. Having the right tools is critical. Connect Our Kids is leveraging technology to scale-up a remarkably successful approach to connecting foster children to permanent, supportive families. We are about to launch our pilot of this technology in five states. Successful, full implementation of this scale-up will change the outcomes for thousands of foster children every year.

What is your call to action for our community?

It takes a village to raise a child, and we are all that village. Children in foster care will become our adult colleagues, and we want them to be healthy and committed members of their families and communities. Join us at ConnectOurKids.org as we change foster care outcomes for the better. Help us raise awareness, raise funds, and introduce us to like-minded organizations.

Click here to check out the other breakthrough leaders who were selected.