Trailblazer Award


Each year for the last several years, Whole Planet Foundation honors a trailblazer advocate who supports our mission and fosters their own. See below for a list of our Trailblazer Award winners throughout the years.

Our 2020 Trailblazer Award Recipient




Shoes for Crews has been a proud supporter of Whole Planet Foundation since 2009 and has generously donated over $220,000 to help alleviate poverty. For every pair of slip resistant shoes that Whole Foods Market Team Members buy through Shoes for Crews, $1 is donated to Whole Planet Foundation. Shoes for Crews was chosen as this year’s trailblazer recipient not only for their generous giving, but also for going above and beyond to engage Whole Foods Market Team Members. 

In 2019, Shoes for Crews marketing leadership met microcredit clients of Grameen America in the Miami area to get a first-hand look at the opportunities that their generosity helps create. This led to a series of promotions including a 2019 branded shoelace campaign where the company donated the equivalent of the average first microloan in the name of five Team Members. Then in 2020 they doubled their usual donation on March 8 & 9 in honor of International Women’s Day. They sponsored our Virtual 5K in June 2020 and are on board once again as a sponsor of our Party with a Purpose Online Auction, helping us celebrate 15 years of alleviating poverty.

“Through our alignment and collective efforts with Whole Planet Foundation and Whole Foods Market’s Asset Protection team, we are able to ensure Team Member Safety and mitigate global poverty through microcredit loans, improving people’s lives all around the world. Shoes For Crews is honored and extremely proud to share this special relationship with Whole Planet Foundation. We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity and the award,” says Chris Hamilton, Vice President of Sales, Shoes for Crews

Because microcredit loans are repaid at a 95% rate, then re-loaned again, the impact of Shoes for Crews’ generosity has been tremendous. Due to this cyclical nature of microcredit, the approximate value of loans supported by Shoes for Crews is over $707,000. Whole Planet Foundation estimates that as of September 2020, 2,825 microloans have been funded by Shoes for Crews, creating over 15,400 opportunities for entrepreneurs and their family members.

Chris Hamilton (top left) and Carol McCoy (top right) receive the Trailblazer award via Zoom in our Party with a Purpose Online Auction event program.

Our 2019 Trailblazer Award Recipient



Whole Planet Foundation honored the Frontier Co-op Well Earth sourcing program as its 2019 Trailblazer. The missions of Whole Planet Foundation and Frontier Co-op align perfectly around one central idea — empowering people. In 2007, Frontier Co-op created their Well Earth sourcing program not only to ensure the sustainability of its products, but to empower its growers.

“We work directly with our Well Earth growers right at the source, often over many years, to empower them with a wide range of resources that will secure the long-term stability of their farms — and their communities,” said Cole Daily, Executive Vice President of Operations at Frontier Co-op.

Establishing these long-term relationships in often remote areas helps blaze the trail for Whole Planet Foundation to alleviate poverty in communities through microcredit. Since 2014, Frontier Co-op has worked with Whole Planet Foundation, donating $565,001 to fund 9,350 microloans and create 50,302 opportunities for microentrepreneuers to flourish. 


Our 2018 Trailblazer Award Recipient


Traditional Medicinals was selected by our Whole Planet Foundation team to receive the 2018 Whole Planet Foundation Trailblazer award, for their community programs in Rajasthan, India to empower women and girls. Traditional Medicinals has donated $355,949 to fund 7,865 microloans and create 42,656 opportunities for entrepreneurs and their families to lift themselves out of poverty to date.

Since 2016, Traditional Medicinals has implemented projects in India by partnering with WomenServe, the Sonoma-county, CA based non-profit. WomenServe’s mission is to unlock the potential of women and girls in Western Rajasthan by increasing access to water, health and hygiene, economic empowerment, and education. To date, Traditional Medicinals and WomenServe have impacted over 25,000 lives. “When she has water, she has the opportunity to go to school, live an empowered life, and #RaiseHerVoice.” – Nioma Sadler, WomenServe Founder/President

Darrick Blinoff and Nioma Sadler of Traditional Medicinals receive the 2018 Trailblazer Award at the second annual Party with a Purpose in Austin, Texas.



Our 2017 Trailblazer Award Recipient


Alaffia’s partnership with Whole Foods Market and Whole Planet Foundation harkens back to a deep core value of co-founder and CEO, Olowo-n’djo Tchala. In sixth grade, Olowo-n’djo had to leave school to support his family in Togo, West Africa.

According to Olowo-d’djo, “As hard as it was not to be able to go to school, I understood the responsibility I had to my family. This translates to Alaffia when we refer to all who are part of our mission as ‘our family.’ A family looks out for one another. And, my co-founder, Rose, and I believe that alleviating global poverty and gender inequality needs to be pursued together to break the cycle of generational poverty in our communities. This core value, which I learned at a young age, is integral to all we do.”

Alaffia contributes a portion of Good Soap sales to Whole Planet Foundation to fund microfinance programs, which help fight poverty in West Africa and around the globe. Proceeds from the sales of Good Soap are donated by Alaffia to its education empowerment project to fund the construction of one kindergarten each year in Togo. Since 2014, with Whole Foods Market, six kindergartens have been built. Alaffia also hosts Whole Foods Market Team Member Volunteers in Togo.

Olowon-d’jo at the Alaffia co-op.


Our 2016 Trailblazer Award Recipient


Optimist is a non-profit production company that creates films with impact. 

Their first feature film Living on One Dollar, was distributed globally by Netflix. The film takes a deep dive into extreme poverty in Guatemala through the experience of the filmmakers, who lived on $1 a day themselves to illustrate the power of microcredit and entrepreneurship. The film has raised over $350,000 for Whole Planet Foundation and an additional $700,000 for the nonprofit organization Mayan Families.

Since releasing Living on One Dollar, the team at Optimist have released two other feature documentaries, 15+ short films and series, and virtual reality films. In spring 2020, they’re releasing two new films, Five Years North and The Undocumented Lawyer. Join them at @Optimist across social media to see the films.