Ex-Stanford NAACP Pres. Wins Forbes $1Million ‘#ChangeTheWorld’ competition

Ex-Stanford NAACP Pres. Wins Forbes $1Million ‘#ChangeTheWorld’ competition

kiah williams

“In West Philadelphia Born and Raised” is the intro verse to Will Smith‘s 90s TV show “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” but it also applies to this years $500,000 winner of Forbes 2015 $1 Million Change the World competition, Kiah Williams.

This former president of the Stanford University NAACP chapter bested 2,500 competitors and 4 other finalists to take the top honors presented to her this week at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Conference in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on October 6: a half a million dollars.

kiah williams forbes

The 29-year old, who proudly boasts being Black and Korean on her Twitter page, also earned an additional $100,000 for her venture because Forbes gave each finalist that amount for making it to the final round.

The winning innovative life-changing company she co-founded and directs SIRUM is a social change venture that connects skilled nursing facilities, assisted living communities and other healthcare providers that have unused medication that will be destroyed with community clinic pharmacies that can use these drugs for their low-income patients.

It’s been described as a “Match.com” for medicine.

The  501(c)3 venture started as a school project when Williams was a student at Stanford, and co-founded by fellow graduates Adam Kircher  and George Wang. Today, it has redistributed $4 million of medicine across 15 sites in 4 states with plans to expand nationally.

“SIRUM co-founder Adam Kircher first had the idea for SIRUM after seeing the destruction caused by the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, and how hard it was to get aid to those in need. Adam knew there had to be a better and more efficient way to get life-saving medications and other resources to where they were needed, both in the US and abroad. Out of that experience, the initial idea for SIRUM was born!”

SIRUM has redistributed enough medicine to help over 80,000 patients families receive the medicine that they need and the donations helped prevent up to 72.3 million pounds of waste by forgoing the production of new medicine. SIRUM has saved from destruction unused medication that would be dumped or burned and end up in our waterways and our air.

The West Philly native has been into health equity for underserved communities for a while now.

Prior to SIRUM, she worked at the William J. Clinton Foundation where she created the Alliance Healthcare Initiative, a healthcare industry collaboration to reduce childhood obesity. She began her career as a Tom Ford Fellow in Philanthropy after earning both her bachelors and masters degrees from Stanford.

SIRUM has been her work and passion since, and is made possible via a rarely used law in many jurisdictions.

“A lot of our work is made possible by legislation in 40 odd states that allows for and protects medicine donation, specifically from institutions like nursing homes and assisted living, to these community clinics specifically for low-income patients,” Williams told Long-Term Living. Many of these “good Samaritan” laws are inactive, however, she says.

All medications accepted for redistribution via the program are unused, unexpired, unopened, uncontrolled and in tamper-evident packaging such as blister packages. Also, only drugs that have been centrally stored and under the supervision of staff (not residents or their families) are eligible for recycling.

Here’s how the donation process works:

  • SIRUM maintains lists of organizations that have expressed interest in contributing or receiving unused medications as well as a list of acceptable medications. Donors indicate which drugs they have, and recipients indicate which drugs they need.
  • The donor decides what drugs it would like to donate, and to whom.
  • The donor collects and records the medications it is contributing, typically using its usual disposition/destruction record-keeping method.
  • The donor removes or renders illegible Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-protected information from the medicine containers and ships the drugs directly to the recipient pharmacy using a pre-addressed, prepaid shipping label.
  • The donor submits a copy of its disposition/destruction record to SIRUM via the Internet or fax. Donations are automatically picked up and shipped using SIRUM’s patent-pending technology platform.
  • A licensed pharmacist at the recipient pharmacy checks, inventories and repackages the medications for clients.
  • The donor receives quarterly reports estimating how many people its recycling has assisted.

“It’s saving [donors] a little bit of time and a little bit of money,”Williams explained to the site.  “Oftentimes, we’re hearing about how long it takes a nurse to punch out a bunch of pills from a partially used card of medicine and facilities oftentimes are paying up to $3 per pound for the destruction of medications that they legally are responsible for destroying.”

Donating the medication, on the other hand, does not involve such costs.

Donors pay nothing. SIRUM offsets its expenses via a fee that recipient pharmacies pay which represents a percentage of the value of the assistance they receive.

The win has helped propeled more awareness of SIRUM’s work.

“It was an incredibly exciting and surreal moment to win the competition,” Williams tells Jenebaspeaks.com. “Since then, we’ve received dozens of inbound inquiries. We’re hearing from folks all across the country–from both clinics interested in receiving medicine and healthcare organizations interested in donating their surplus medicine. We’re working hard to capitalize on those leads.”

Hear more about SIRUM and what it is an acronym for…from Williams in this video:

SIRUM – Kiah Williams from LAUNCH on Vimeo.


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Jay Jay Ghatt is also editor at Techyaya.com, founder of the JayJayGhatt.com and JayJayGhatt.com where she teaches online creators how to navigate digital entrepreneurship and offers Do-It-For-You Blogging Service. She manages her lifestyle sites BellyitchBlog, Jenebaspeaks and JJBraids.com and is the founder of BlackWomenTech.com 200 Black Women in Tech On Twitter. Her biz podcast 10 Minute Podcast is available on iTunes and Player.fm. Follow her on Twitter at @Jenebaspeaks. Buy her templates over at her legal and business templates on Etsy shop!