Vietnam Tooth Project: The Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project in Vietnam

The Children’s Oral Health and Nutrition Project in Vietnam aims to contribute solutions to two global health epidemics– childhood tooth decay and malnutrition. The project’s intervention is a set of cost-effective preventive measures. It includes free dental supplies (toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss) for all study children and family members, application of fluoride varnish to children’s teeth biannually, referral of children with tooth decay to local dentists, and education about oral health and nutrition for community health workers, teachers, and families. The goal is to demonstrate that the project is a cost-effective and valid preventive health initiative that addresses the neglected global diseases of childhood tooth decay and malnutrition. Ultimately, the goal is to make the project sustainable and ensure its expansion with the support of the Vietnamese government to reach more children across all regions in Vietnam.

A Healthy Smile

On any given night Berkeley has between 1,000-2,000 people sleeping on the streets. These individuals contend with a myriad of medical and psychiatric issues, but one problem that is often overlooked is oral health. A Healthy Smile at the Suitcase Clinic Dental Section provides free comprehensive restorative dental care in the form of dentures, stay-plates, and crowns on a weekly basis. Through the existing collaboration with the Berkeley Free Clinic and five volunteer dentists, the goal is to provide this much-needed restorative care to four clients per week. A Healthy Smile hopes to establish a mutually beneficial and sustainable collaboration in order to purchase dental materials at a reduced cost. The aim is to secure funding to ultimately provide 30 dentures, 30 partial dentures, 30 stay-plates, 29 implants crowns, and 100 crowns per year with the hope of improving the lives and social mobility of those in need.



Information latency profoundly limits agricultural cooperatives’ ability to conduct business and access financing – an avoidable problem with serious consequences for rural farmers in the developing world. Acopio is a nascent social venture offering information systems that enable farmer-owned cooperatives to better manage the data that is vital to managing their operations, accessing financing, and marketing their products. The team’s solution has the potential to positively affect the lives of millions of farmers in the developing world.

Shifting the Paradigm in Poverty Reduction: Applying the Teach For Health Framework in San Ramón, Nicaragua

Big Ideas Award Celebration, May 2012 Photo Credit: Blum Center
Big Ideas Award Celebration, May 2012
Photo Credit: Blum Center

Teach For Health, an NGO founded by UCSF and Berkeley students, won 1st place in the 2010 Global Poverty Alleviation category. The team proposed a model to catalyze cost-effective social change in rural, low-income villages in Nicaragua by training motivated community organizers, assisting local health promoters in Community Diagnosis and Action Planning (CDAP) and building local resource capacity. The team has expanded and strengthened the infrastructure, with 4 local staff, 69 active health promoters working in 21 communities conducting basic health-promotion activities and completing their own health-improvement projects. The team now plans to move to the next level of CDAP, which involves promoters facilitating a process in which their communities identify and prioritize their most pressing challenges, and develop and enact a plan to address specific challenges. To achieve this, the team will pilot the “Microgrant Empowerment Initiative”, providing a series of competitive, escalating grants with local matching for village-developed program proposals, in order to build local capacity for program planning and implementation, and lay the foundation for independent grant writing to implement community-driven projects.

Nuestra Agua Safe Water Franchise

Nuestra Agua
Nuestra Agua

Diarrheal disease from drinking unsafe water is one of the leading causes of death in Mexico. Today, millions of Mexicans in low-income communities are still at high risk of waterborne diseases because of inadequate water infrastructure and insufficient water quality control. In particular, safe water remains unavailable to those who cannot afford commercially sold bottled water. Water technology like the UV Tube, developed through collaboration between UC Berkeley and Fundacion Cantaro Azul, is an effective means to secure water quality at home. Nuestra Agua, a new social franchise designed by UC Berkeley students, will expand on the UV Tube project and offer a local, affordable, and reliable option for people who need to purchase safe water as well as an economic opportunity for local entrepreneurs.


Water unavailability is a problem that families face in almost all of the cities in South Asia and in at least a third of the rest of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Millions of households have a piped water supply. However, water is only available through these pipes for a few hours at a time. Households faced with irregular water supply may lose hours each day waiting for water. They become stressed and regularly use unsafe sources of water instead. Part of the problem is water utilities being unable to reliably track and verify the delivery of water. NextDrop is a program that addresses this problem. As it scales up, NextDrop will use the provided information by consumers to assist water utility engineers in tracking and correcting problems of water delivery to consumers.

MicroFluidic Biomolecular Amplification Reader for Infectious Disease Agents in South Africa

The Microfluidic Biomolecular team is developing an integrated microfluidic system for simple and robust biomolecular amplification with an inexpensive reader to conduct a rapid and complicated analysis of a range of samples encountered in the field. They are targeting this microfluidic biomolecular amplification reader (MicroBAR) at global health diagnostics, with a specific focus on tuberculosis detection and classification based on drug resistant genotype. Funds will be used to return to South Africa to scale up their project for field deployment.

Berkeley Student Food Collective

The Berkeley Student Food Collective BSFC (formerly known as the Berkeley Student Food Cooperative) was the 1st place winner of Big Ideas Improving Student Life competition in 2009. The mission was to provide fresh, healthy, environmentally sustainable, and ethically produced
food at an affordable price to Berkeley students and community. Since winning the 2009 grant, BSFC has been successful in the opening of the Bancroft Way storefront, actively expanding its educational presence on campus, facilitating a “Berkeley in the Global Food System” DeCal, and holding their 2nd Annual Harvest Gala in 2010. With the new grant award, BSFC plans to scale up their program to increase outreach to the student and greater Berkeley community through several educational and outreaching venues, such as creating a curriculum to increase food awareness and the REAL food guidelines, scaling up catering and food prep programs, and expanding the preparation of food made and sold at the storefront. A long term plan for the BSFC is to open their own cafe in the renovated Lower Sproul area.

BTTR Ventures

BTTR stands for “Back to the Roots”, a phrase that encompasses their business model of transforming one of the largest urban waste streams in America – the tons of coffee ground waste generated daily – into a highly-demanded, nutritious, and valuable food product: gourmet mushrooms. Not only has this initiative created a healthy food source, but it has also provided urban jobs, prevented thousands of tons of valuable substrate from being dumped into landfills, and donated a substantial amount of its mushrooms, soil amendment and kits back into the communities from which the coffee ground waste originated. Scaling up efforts for BTTR will go towards their sustainable business for a Whole Foods national rollout of mushroom kits, efforts to diversify their raw material (soy and barley), invest in an industrial
autoclave, hire more employees, and to overall push the urban gardening and growing your own food movement.