Critical Infrastructure: CLASSY Awards Top 5

Critical Infrastructure programs look at the physical needs of a community and work to increase access to electricity, water, communication systems, transportation and housing. View the key indicators of this subcategory here.

100,000 Homes Campaign
Community Solutions
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING The 2013 Homeless Assessment Report to Congress estimates that there are roughly 92,000 chronically homeless people (long-term homeless adults with a disabling medical condition) in the United States. Homeless individuals live an average of 25 years less than the general population, and the emergency services they use cost taxpayers far more than the cost of housing.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]100,000 Homes Campaign
Program Name

United States

Start date

Becky Kanis
Program Director


The 100,000 Homes Campaign is a national movement of communities working together to find permanent homes for 100,000 of the country’s most vulnerable homeless individuals and families by July of 2014. The Campaign helps communities house their homeless neighbors by helping them first identify their homeless population by name and rank them according to vulnerability, then track and measure their local housing rates against clear monthly goals, and lastly, improve local systems to make housing and housing assistance simpler and faster to access for those in greatest need. To better execute their strategy, they built the Homeless Connector, a smartphone app in which volunteers can upload pictures, location, and critical health information of people experiencing homelessness and route it to the nearest 100,000 Homes Campaign local team. In partnership with the Rapid Results Institute, participating communities are put through 2-day bootcamp-style workshops in which they set ambitious 100-day goals for improving their housing performance. Over the following 100 days, communities have doubled their monthly housing placement figures on average. Since July 2010, 100K Homes has worked with 235 communities to house over 88,000 of the most long-term and vulnerable homeless individuals across the U.S, including over 20,000 veterans.

We are working towards our goal of helping communities house 100,000 of their most vulnerable homeless neighbors and shift their response to homelessness. Although the Campaign will end when we meet our goal, we are confident that the process improvements we have set in place will continue to transform communities past our July 2014 end date.
-Becky Kanis, Program Director

Water Missions International Honduras
Water Missions International
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING Honduran government statistics in 2007 stated 33% of people in Colon lacked access to improved water sources and 43% lacked access to adequate sanitation facilities. Water Missions assessment work revealed that less than 5% actually had access to safe water.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Water Missions International Honduras
Program Name

Colon, Honduras

Start date

Hector Chacon
Program Director


In 2006, Water Missions International partnered with The Pentair Foundation to enact Project SafeWater Colon, a comprehensive, multi-year, $4.7 million project designed to provide sustainable safe water and sanitation access to the residents of the Department of Colon. Using technology, their approach was to saturate the region with access to safe water treatment systems and Healthy Latrines™. A micro-enterprise business model was established to ensure the local community operates and owns the water treatment systems and users pay a nominal fee for safe water. Recently, Water For People adopted a similar strategy with “Everyone, Forever” with results that support the Water Missions approach. Today, in the Department of Colon, Honduras, 80% of households use water supplied by the safe water solution and there has been a 52% reduction of clinical visits for diarrheal disease in just 34 months of systems being installed.

[su_quote cite=”Hector Chacon, Program Director” class=”top5″] This is the first ever project in the country to cover a whole department or state. It has helped these people to help themselves. We work alongside community leaders and direct beneficiaries to decide the best way to accomplish each solution and allow them to participate as pro-actively as possible in the development of the project. [/su_quote]

Safe Water for Haiti Communities
Pure Water for the World
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING The lack of clean water, lack of sanitation, and unfamiliarity with good hygiene practices kill more people every year than all acts of war and violence, auto accidents, and HIV/AIDS combined. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. While the government has made improvements to community health, there is still much to be done, especially for the rural areas. Today, 80% of Haitians live in poverty and 40% live without access to clean water.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Safe Water for Haiti Communities
Program Name


Start date

Noelle Thabault
Program Director


Safe Water for Haiti provides water filtration and hygiene education to communities in rural areas of Haiti. Through a total community strategy, the program includes community workshops, training of community volunteers, the installation of filters and continued monitoring and follow up. Safe Water uses the Bio Sand Filter, a point of use filtration system in households and schools, and has partnered with DINEPA, a national water agency in Haiti, on water policy and government initiatives that are related to water. In 2013, 900 homes and 178 schools were provided filtration systems and hygiene education.

It is the community’s desire to improve the health of their families and to grow that makes this program truly successful. Even after Pure Water’s work is complete, these beneficiaries have the tools and knowledge to sustain the project.
-Noelle Thabault, Program Director

Pure Water for the World: Haiti from Bryan Long on Vimeo.

Well Mechanics
Adventure Project
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING Despite an estimated $1.5 billion invested in new water infrastructure in recent years, 1 in 3 wells in Africa are broken. In order to recoup this investment and improve the approach to creating lasting access to clean water, community members need the skills and economic incentives to repair and maintain their own water sources.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Well Mechanics
Program Name

Kyenjojo District, Uganda

Start date

Becky Straw
Program Director


In 2011-2012, the Adventure Project trained 160 well mechanics in two projects in different regions of India. Both projects were successful, providing reliable access to clean water to over 100,000 residents of West Bengal and Bihar. In both regions, mechanics repaired 100% of broken wells in their communities within 24 hours. Alternative approaches that use volunteer labor to maintain water sources have not been as successful, confirming the need to provide economic incentives in order to prevent wells from falling into disrepair and communities from returning to dirty water sources. Following the success of these projects in India, the model is now being implemented in Africa, specifically, piloting in Western Uganda. The Well Mechanics training program provides both service and capacity building by fixing broken wells and then providing jobs to locals by training them to maintain the wells in their community. With this approach, wells can last upwards of 20 years. 100% of broken wells addressed by this program are fixed within 24 hours.

In order to bring clean water to the world in a lasting way, we need innovation and enterprise. Training local well mechanics is a sustainable, market-based solution. This solution equips local entrepreneurs with the skills needed to address their communities’ problems themselves, while earning an income. I’m so proud of this solution and ready to share what we’ve learned.
-Becky Straw, Program Director

We Believe in Diana. from The Adventure Project on Vimeo.

Resident Services
Mercy Housing
WHAT THEY’RE ADDRESSING According to the U.S. Dept of Housing & Urban Development, around 12 million renter and homeowner households pay more than 50% of annual incomes for housing. Rates of renting are at their highest in more than a decade. Nearly half of renters have incomes below $30K, including 22% w/annual incomes below $15K. The lack of affordable housing is a significant problem for low-income households.

[su_pullquote align=”right” class=”top5″]Resident Services
Program Name

United States

Start date

Carol Breslau
Program Director


Mercy Housing provides Resident Services that fall into four program areas: Economic Development, Education, Community Health & Wellness. The program acquires and renovates existing housing, as well as developing new affordable rental properties. Residents are supported by health classes, financial education, employment initiatives, parenting and after-school programs for children. Mercy Housing is currently present in 41 states with 45,800 developed, preserved and/or financed affordable homes. Preliminary data shows that children who participate in their out-of-school-time programs 3 hrs/week show improved self-confidence, have confidence in school, feel safe, spend more time on homework and behave better with classmates and teachers.

Right now, I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. Doing this on my own, raising two boys and going to school. I wouldn’t be able to afford a safe place for my sons and me to live. And I do feel safe here. Without Mercy Housing, I’d have to make the choice between paying for my education and paying rent somewhere my children would be safe.

The Hunger & Poverty Experts

The Leadership Council is an honorary board comprised of a diverse group of experts that will collectively determine the winners of the CLASSY Awards in this cause sector. Their unique perspective and valuable insight establishes this recognition as one of the highest honors in the social sector.

Where social entrepreneurs go to learn and grow

Join over 20,000 leaders just like you who get their weekly dose of technology, innovation, fundraising ideas, and the latest industry trends.

Subscribe to the Classy Blog