Young California Innovators Take Top Three $40K Awards at This Weekend’s 2023 Westly Prize

Silicon Valley’s Westly Foundation leads the way in shining a light on novel solutions to community challenges

MENLO PARK, Calif.--()--On Jan. 29, three winners of the 2023 Westly Prize for Young Social Innovators were announced, garnering each $40,000. The Westly Foundation has funded more than $1 million in Westly Prize awards over the last decade to young innovators with early-stage, novel solutions to community and global challenges.

As described by Steve Westly, co-founder of the Westly Foundation, “It’s the next generation that will solve many of our greatest challenges. We want to support the entrepreneurial spirit of these talented young people as they work to create a better world. Their dedication is extraordinary and we’re seeing astonishing solutions to age-old problems."

This year’s finalists, all in their twenties, emerged from a pool of more than 100 California-based applicants. At Saturday’s event, eight finalists pitched to a panel of five judges at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford University. The following three teams were named winners:

WONDERFIL, Refilling stations diverting plastic from oceans & landfills - Amelia Eichel & Shiloh Sacks

  • Wonderfil stations allow consumers to dispense and refill their daily-use in place of single-use plastic waste.
  • Wonderfil has successfully piloted refill stations at two University of California campuses, Berkeley and Santa Cruz, with 800 users.
  • Amelia and Shiloh, from Alameda and Los Angeles respectively, will dedicate their Westly Prize to expand Wonderfil stations across California.

ATLOS, A visual investigative tool for journalists - Noah Schechter & Miles McCain

  • When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine spawned a massive volume of eyewitness media and left journalists with outdated methods of preserving the vital historical records, Stanford University undergraduates, Noah Schechter and Miles McCain recognized the urgent need to create Atlos: an open-source platform dedicated to collaborative visual investigations.
  • Atlos continues to serve as a database purpose-built for media verification, powering the open-source journalism organization, Bellingcat’s Global Authentication Project.
  • Noah and Miles, originally from Los Angeles and New York respectively, plan to use their Westly Prize cash award to expand service to investigative partners worldwide.

CAPD PERIOD, Menstrual cup ending period poverty - Hannah Wilen & Neil Bhatia

  • CapdCup is the first menstrual cup that can be emptied without removal, reinventing the future of period care for the billions of women disproportionately affected by the water crisis worldwide.
  • CapdCup originated while Neil attended graduate school at University of California, Berkeley; however, he and Hannah now operate the venture out of Santa Monica.
  • Their Westly Prize enables them to distribute 10,000 CapdCups to women in Uganda.

Anita Yu, co-founder of the Westly Foundation, explains why: “It feels great to be able to give back. California has created meaningful opportunities for my husband and me. We want to make sure we plant seeds for these innovators, and California’s future in return.”

To access media resources from the event, click here.


Jessica García-Kohl
Executive Director
(408) 600-8898


Jessica García-Kohl
Executive Director
(408) 600-8898