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Tepeolulco, Mexico, Youth Announced as Excellence Winner in Staples/Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneur Global Competition
Pachamama Awarded $5,000 Grand Prize for Leading Positive Social Change in their Community

ARLINGTON, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jun. 29, 2009-- Ashoka, the world’s community of leading social entrepreneurs, and Staples Foundation for Learning (SFFL), a private foundation created by Staples, Inc. (NASDAQ: SPLS), today announced Pachamama of Tepeolulco, Mexico, as the Excellence Winner of the Staples/Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneur global competition. The team was honored during a special ceremony that took place today at Youth Venture’s National Summit in Boston, Mass. The global competition recognizes youth who are addressing social issues affecting their communities and is part of Ashoka’s Youth Venture®, a global initiative that identifies and fosters young entrepreneurs who are creating positive change.

Juan Carlos Luna Hernandez and Mary Cruz Romero Gudiño work with Pachamama, an organization that develops and teaches environmentally friendly alternatives in agriculture. Under the leadership of Juan Carlos and Mary Cruz, Pachamama educates low-income families throughout Tepeolulco, Mexico about optimizing resources to produce organic crops in an environmentally friendly manner. Pachamama developed two interrelating agricultural techniques; Banconejo to produce natural fertilizer from rabbits to enrich the soil, and Tierra Adentro to simplify rainwater recollection for irrigation. They were chosen out of five finalists selected from around the world for their outstanding impact, innovation and potential. As the global excellence winner of the competition, Pachamama will receive a grand prize worth $5,000 to help run their entrepreneurial Venture.

Finalists were selected by an elite panel of judges, including Mario Cada-Frech, Vice President Public Affairs & Corporate Social Responsibility of MTV Networks Latin America; Oded Grajew, Founder and President of the Ethos Institute; Jeffrey A. Joerres, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer & President of Manpower, Inc.; Emily Morell, Youth Venturer and winner of the 2008 Staples/Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneur Award, Co-founder and Board of Directors of Gardens for Health International; and Siamak Taghaddos, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Grasshopper.

All five finalists were flown to Boston, Mass., to be recognized during today’s special ceremony at Youth Venture’s National Summit led by Dave Sobb, vice president of Staples, Inc. and Gretchen Zucker, executive director of Youth Venture. In addition, all five finalists spent the day meeting with top Staples executives to get business advice on their ventures.

“Together, Staples and Ashoka provide young entrepreneurs with a chance to show how their Ventures are creating change in their community and a positive, lasting impact on the world,” said Sobb. “We know that Pachamama's success will also serve as a motivator, inspiring other young people to initiate and lead their own social change.”

“The members of Pachamama are wonderful examples of the entrepreneurial ingenuity and civic leadership that Youth Venturers are providing to communities around the world,” said Zucker. “Pachamama's efforts have resulted in real, tangible and positive improvements in the lives of their local citizens - a core measurement for this Staples/Ashoka competition.”

Since 2006, Staples has provided Ashoka with $2 million in support of their worldwide efforts to invest in and catalyze a movement of young changemakers who increase the ability of a global society to solve problems and thrive. SFFL has helped Youth Venture expand to seven countries in North America, South America and Europe. For additional information on the Staples/Ashoka Youth Social Entrepreneur Competition, please visit the competition web site at:

About Youth Venture

Ashoka’s Youth Venture is a global movement of young changemakers. Youth Venture inspires and invests in Teams of young people to start their own sustainable social Ventures and connects them into a powerful global network. Collectively, these young changemakers are redefining the youth years as a time of initiative and positive change. For more information, please visit

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. 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 2008 sales of $23 billion and 91,000 associates worldwide, 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

Source: Staples

Staples, Inc.
Joy Errico, 508-253-7957
for Ashoka’s Youth Venture
Terry Donovan, 508-435-0045