In the world of philanthropic prizes for social design, lightning does strike twice. Yves Béhar, founder of the San Francisco design company Fuseproject
, has won the prestigious INDEX award
in the “Body” category for a program launched in Mexico to test and correct children’s vision.
Since it was founded in 2010, VerBien
(See Better to Learn Better) has provided free eye exams to half a million Mexican children and distributed durable, customizable, locally manufactured eyeglasses to more than 70 percent of those tested. The program’s extensive scale and benefits have earned it INDEX’s top annual prize of 100,000 Euros.
This is Fuseproject’s second INDEX award — the Copenhagen-based organization, whose mission is to recognize and support “design to improve life,” conferred the honor in 2007 for the company’s One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) computer. Béhar says he will use the prize money to expand Verbien beyond Mexico.
Other winners of the 2011 INDEX award are Elemental Monterrey
, a social housing development launched in Chile (Home category), Design for Change
, an educational program founded in India that invites schoolchildren to articulate and address local problems (Work category), Hövding
, a Swedish-designed protective collar for bicyclists that inflates in the event of an accident (Play category), and Design Seoul
, which the competition organizers describe as “the first ever coherent design-based approach to improve life for citizens in a very large city” (Community category).
The five prize winners received awards totaling more than $800,000.