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Ashoka Launches Staples "Youth Social Entrepreneur" Competition

Competition Will Recognize Entrepreneurial Youth Creating Positive

Change in Communities throughout the World

ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 26, 2008--In a joint effort to recognize young people making a positive impact on society, Ashoka, the world's community of leading social entrepreneurs, today announced the launch of the Staples "Youth Social Entrepreneur" Competition. The online competition, created on Ashoka's "" platform, asks young people within the Ashoka global network to explain how they are leading positive change and planning on making an impact within their communities. For example, Ventures in the U.S. are currently addressing social issues from providing art classes for low-income students to connecting elderly people with youth through community service projects.

Youth leaders who enter the competition have an opportunity to win a global prize or be considered for a $1000 Youth Venture grant to advance their projects. Four finalists, from entries submitted by applicants in France and the United States, will be chosen by an elite panel of judges for their outstanding impact, innovation and potential, and will be flown to Boston, MA, to be recognized during a special ceremony in their honor on November 20, 2008 at Staples' headquarters in Framingham, MA. The Staples grand prize winning team, which will be announced during the ceremony, will receive a suite of Staples products to help run their Venture, valued at $5,000.

Youth Venture is an Ashoka initiative that is catalyzing and investing in a movement of young changemakers all over the world who are taking action by identifying problems and creating Ventures to create positive change in their communities. Staples began its support of Youth Venture in 2006 through Staples Foundation for Learning, a private charitable foundation created by Staples, Inc. This grant helped Ashoka launch the Youth Venture program in France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Canada, Argentina and Brazil. To date, Staples has contributed $1.5 million to build the capacity, visibility and reach of the Youth Venture program throughout the world.

"The Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition allows us to highlight the power that youth can have to change the world," said Bill Drayton, chief executive officer and chairman of Ashoka. "Staples and Ashoka are working together to inspire and support youth who are part of a global movement of young changemakers who are taking initiative and creating Ventures that contribute to social change."

"Youth Venture provides young people, who demonstrate a strong entrepreneurial spirit and desire to help the world, with the encouragement and skills needed to grow their social ventures," said Ron Sargent, chairman and chief executive officer of Staples, Inc. "The Staples Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition enables us to recognize and honor these youth who are leading innovative projects that have a positive, lasting impact on the community."

The competition website is

About Ashoka

Ashoka is the world's community of leading social entrepreneurs--individuals with innovative and practical ideas for addressing social needs. Working with these social entrepreneurs, Ashoka builds communities of innovators who work collectively to transform society and design new ways for the social sector to become more productive, entrepreneurial and globally integrated. Ashoka's Changemakers is building an "open source" online community that competes to surface the best social solutions to the world's most pressing issues. To date, Changemakers has attracted more than 3,500 solutions from more than 125 countries. For more information, please visit or

About Youth Venture

Youth Venture is a global community of powerful young changemakers that provides the inspiration, tools and financial support for young people to have the transformative experience of launching and leading their own social ventures. Youth Venture has supported more than 1,500 youth-led teams to launch ventures in 14 countries around the world. For more information, please visit

About Staples

Staples, the world's largest office products company, is committed to making it easy for customers to buy a wide range of office products, including supplies, technology, furniture, and business services. With $27 billion in sales, Staples serves businesses of all sizes and consumers in 27 countries throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In July 2008, Staples acquired Corporate Express, one of the world's leading suppliers of office products to businesses and institutions. Staples invented the office superstore concept in 1986 and is headquartered outside Boston. More information about Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) is available at

CONTACT: Staples, Inc.
Joy Errico, 508-253-7957
for Staples
Kristen Ingraham, 781-559-0430
for Ashoka's Youth Venture
Terry Donovan, 508-435-0045

SOURCE: Staples