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The human utility

The Human Utility's mission is to preserve human dignity by increasing water affordability for all families in the United States through crowdfunding, community-building, and policy action. It is a platform bringing people together from around the world to help people in Baltimore, Detroit, and 28 other cities in Michigan with their water bills. Since its founding in July 2014, the organization has helped over 3,000 people and is a Y Combinator-backed not-for-profit.

The Human Utility was founded by Tiffani Ashley Bell, a 2017 Technology & Democracy Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government researching water affordability and designing a water affordability subsidy. She was a 2014 Code for America Fellow working with the City of Atlanta's Innovation Delivery Team. Previously, she was the CEO + founder of Pencil You In, enabling over 2,000 local businesses to accept appointments online, bringing many of them online for the first time.

In 2015, she was nominated and voted as one of The Root's 100 Most Influential African Americans for her work protecting the right to water. She was also named to the inaugural Mic 50 class celebrating impactful leaders, cultural influencers, and breakthrough innovators. In 2016, she was named as an inaugural Grist 50 awardee as an innovator working toward a more sustainable future.



True Colors United implements innovative solutions to youth homelessness that focus on the unique experiences of LGBTQ young people.

In the United States, 4.2 million youth experience homelessness each year, with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth 120% more likely to experience homelessness than their non-LGBTQ peers. True Colors United is committed to changing that. So, in 2008, Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Barbaris, Jonny Podell, and Gregory Lewis founded True Colors United (formerly the True Colors Fund) and went on a different kind of tour – visiting homeless shelters, community centers, and other service providers to learn all we could about the issue.


Communities and youth homelessness service providers want to be safe and welcoming for LGBTQ youth, but often don’t have the knowledge or resources to do so – creating barriers for these youth to get the support they need. True Colors United fills that space by offering free training and resources on how to meet the needs of LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. We also advocate in government and media to help ensure critical funding and services for all youth, and create opportunities for youth who have experienced homelessness to be key leaders in the effort to end the problem.

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