2015 Year in Review

Next Top Makers pop up

As we reflect back on 2015 it was a year of continued impact. Our work addressing gender equality and human rights continues through our internet freedom program and efforts focused on engaging women and girls in STEM.

We are building capacity for innovators and institutions in addressing system-wide challenges in the areas of materials, energy, education, health, oceans, climate change, biodiversity and disaster response. Our new emphasis on storytelling and social engagement has widened our reach and helped us amplify the voices of the innovators. This year alone, over 14,000 people engaged in our innovation programs and we worked on projects in 27 countries from Tuvalu to Serbia, Costa Rica to Ethiopia.

We accomplished all of this and more hand-in-hand with our collaborators and partners, who are instrumental in everything we do. So as we enter into the new year we wanted to take this time to thank you. Thank you for your inspiration, commitment, teamwork and friendship.

Happy holidays and peace to all!

Our engagement managers have shared more about their 2015 projects:


In 2015, 20 amazing innovators joined LAUNCH for the Green Chemistry and Materials challenges. In 10 short months since the Green Chemistry Forum, innovators have secured $1.3m in grant funding, raised $100k in angel investment, signed supplier agreements and manufacturing partnerships, and penned research collaborations with LAUNCH Council members. Along with our Nordics partners, LeaderLab, we’re excited to see what the future will hold for the materials innovators.


LAUNCH Nordic innovators together with NASA astronaut Cady Coleman, live on Periscope.

SecondMuse was thrilled this year to enter into a Cooperative Agreement with USAID to evolve and scale the LAUNCH program. With the support of founding partners, USAID, NIKE, NASA and the U.S. Department of State, the LAUNCH family has supported 80 innovators over the last six years, alongside their world-changing innovations in water, health, energy, waste, fabrics/textiles, and green chemistry. We are pleased to welcome Rupesh Shah as LAUNCH’s new executive director and are committed to strengthening and scaling the LAUNCH platform, mobilizing against new challenges, and building a dynamic, engaged and impactful LAUNCH community.

International Space Apps Challenge

In 2015, through The International Space Apps Challenge, more than 13,000 global citizens in 62 countries and 136 cities engaged directly with NASA to design innovative solutions to global challenges in software development, citizen science, hardware and data visualization. The aim of this hackathon is for teams of technologists, scientists, designers and entrepreneurs to develop answers to some of the most pressing challenges on Earth and in space using publicly available data. The International Space Apps Challenge is a mass collaboration, with over 500 organizations internationally contributing with data, challenges, in-kind and financial resources. At the time of this posting, more than half of the Space Apps events occur in the developing world. visit Space Apps website at www.spaceappschallenge.org.

Space Apps Cairo host Menna Hamza said, “About half our event participants were also women, traveled four hours all the way from Alexandria to Cairo to be part of it.”


Space Apps 2015 best use of data global award-winning team NYSpacetag with NASA’s Jason Duley and Beth Beck.

Internet Freedom Needfinding

This proved to be an exciting year for SecondMuse’s work in Internet freedom and human rights. Through the incubation of the Localization Lab and continued growth of the Internet Freedom Needfinding Framework, SecondMuse collaborated with numerous stakeholders to help develop and empower the Internet freedom ecosystem.

The Localization Lab is a growing community of thousands of volunteer translators committed to localizing open source internet freedom technology. During 2015, SecondMuse supported activities like Localization Sprints, which bring together a community to translate a particular Internet freedom tool, and the Lab’s first Localization Summit, where developers, designers and project managers met to discuss the strategic direction of the community and ways to improve the localization of these tools.


On location in Tunis.

The excitement and appetite for ways to connect, understand, and engage with users continues to grow. Building on the Internet Freedom Needfinding Framework, Roxann Stafford and Katey Metzroth led a workshop “Understanding Users and Their Needs: A Needfinding Framework for Internet Freedom” at RightCon in Manila, Philippines for NGOs, policy makers, funders, trainers and developers. Coaching and feedback was also provided to various groups using the Needfinding Framework to develop engagements with communities around the world.

In November, the research team composed of Elizabeth Sabet and Lena Delchad went to Tunisia to lead a two day Internet Freedom Needfinding engagement with journalists, bloggers and webmasters. The purpose was to understand the communication patterns in daily life, security problems and priorities, and communication and safety needs of the group through activities such as visual exercises and interviews as well as group drama and storytelling. The final report will be released in early 2016. This Framework, the reports, and more can be found at www.internetfreedom.secondmuse.com.

Pacific Humanitarian Challenge: #RethinkingResponse

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) has been seeking new thinking and innovation to support its efforts meeting challenges in the Pacific region. This Pacific Humanitarian Challenge, shared socially using #RethinkingResponse, was initiated by DFAT’s InnovationXchange program, and is focused on improving disaster response and post-disaster resilience in the countries and cultures that make up that region.


Footage from Cyclone Pam.

Pacific countries are highly exposed to the impacts of climate change and extreme natural events. Through this $2 million challenge we are calling on citizens, innovators, entrepreneurs, designers, NGOs, and academics to rethink humanitarian response. Applications for this challenge close on February 7, 2016.

New York’s Next Top Makers


Next Top Makers pop-up event at LittleBits.

SecondMuse recently launched the third season of New York’s Next Top Makers together with the New York City Economic Development Corporation and our communications partner Imagination in Space! Six NYC-based hardware startups made it through a vetting process to be part of a community-sourced incubator dedicated to connecting independent innovation with local manufacturing production. As a program, New York’s Next Top Makers (NTM) is helping to position New York City as not just an entrepreneur-friendly city, but a leader in the new production economy, stimulating the growth of an ecosystem of makers, designers, creators, and manufacturers.

Keith Kirkland, founder of Beyond Sight, said of Next Top Makers, “I want to learn how to make this my life.”

Nike/MIT Climate CoLab: #MaterialsMatter



According to research compiled by MIT Materials System Lab, approximately 25 billion kilograms of cotton were produced worldwide in 2013, resulting in the same annual greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to driving to the sun and back more than 1,000 times, or taking nearly 10 percent of the United States’ cars and light trucks off the road. This number alone is staggering and yet it is just one material used in the textile industry. To bring awareness and spark new innovations in how we might rethink the value and use of materials, Nike along with MIT Climate CoLab and SecondMuse launched the Materials Matter Challenge, which runs through spring of 2016. Get creative and join the materials movement!

The Rainforest of Costa Rica

costa rica with Todd

Todd Khozein, Jennifer Menke and Joe Hsueh in Golfito, Costa Rica.

How can impact investing enable large-scale systems change? The integration between impact investing and systems change is at the frontier of financing for social change. We are partnering with the Academy for Systemic Change to create a systems investing lab in the Osa peninsula, Costa Rica. The lab aims to learn how to finance the creation of a regenerative economy and a thriving community that is dependent on the health of the rainforest and marine ecosystems. Osa houses 2.5 percent of world’s biodiversity and is facing a critical choice between rapid unsustainable growth or steady sustainable development. In 2015, we worked with local stakeholders from eco-tourism, sustainable agriculture, rainforest conservation, regional council, academic research, foundations and governments to co-create a Regenerative Rainforest Economy Systems Map and begin to use the map to identify high-leverage points for collective action and impact investing. Look forward to what will emerge in 2016!

Eye on Earth Summit


At the Eye on Earth Summit, where four citizen science teams were recognized, with SecondMuse’s Lena Delchad and Blake Garcia.


SecondMuse was hired by the United Nations Environment Program to implement the UNEP Live Data Drive and Data Innovation Showcase in advance of the Eye on Earth Summit in Abu Dhabi, October 6-8, 2015. Our direct action campaigns reached more than 2.5 million people through the Eye on Earth missions. SecondMuse also worked with over 25 institutions to share data and tools with the UNEP Live platform for better decision-making. At the awards ceremony at the Eye on Earth Summit, four citizen science teams were recognized.



Datanauts Leslie Birch and Tiffany Linzan making starry night journals.

NASA’s group of Datanauts is made up of women who were chosen by NASA as thought leaders to spearhead and support the program in years to come. They met in May and again in December to talk about how to use NASA’s vast amounts of data to change their communities, educate students, or create data solutions that are relevant to issues they face on a daily basis. One of the goals of Datanauts is for each member of the class to host events where they can engage with their communities and NASA’s data at the same time. Watch out for events near you in 2016. Datanauts will be putting out applications for the next class in the coming month. NASA is looking for people from all fields who are interested in learning about their wealth of public data and how to use it to change communities.

Datanaut Jennifer Lopez at NASA Headquarters.

Datanaut Jennifer Lopez at NASA Headquarters.

Development Data Hub

SecondMuse, in partnership with Bivee, led the development of the World Bank Group’s new strategy for the management of Development Data, including household surveys, official statistics, project data, geospatial data, business surveys, labor surveys, and other forms of data that further the Bank’s ability to understand the state of the world. The effort involved a Bank-wide consultation and the strategic design of technical and organizational components.

SecondMuse used various needfinding tools to engage internal and external stakeholders and increase shared understanding and communication between internal business units. The output was a strategic report and stakeholder alignment for the implementation of a Development Data Hub to maximize the value of using, reusing and sharing development data within World Bank Group operations through policy, technology, and staff resources, in order to improve decision making, policy recommendations and technical support to client countries.

Carrie Freeman

About Carrie Freeman

Carrie Freeman is the managing partner of SecondMuse, responsible for the overall company strategic direction and performance. Prior to joining SecondMuse, Carrie worked for Intel Corporation as Director of Sustainable Business Innovation pioneering strategies such as a corporate impact investing fund and developing technology market solutions to solve global sustainability challenges. Carrie formed the corporate sustainability group and directed corporate-wide efforts working with key stakeholders to ensure industry leadership. Carrie regularly speaks globally on the roles of technology, sustainability and innovation and sits on several advisory boards.

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