3 funding opportunities to help you jumpstart your ideas this spring

Spring is in the air—along with a new set of top-notch innovation contests with equally delightful prizes. Now’s the time to pitch that creative project you’ve been mulling over all winter!

GOOD’s Start Something That Matters Challenge

There’s nowhere to go but up.

  • WHO: Any social entrepreneur over 18
  • WHAT: The folks at GOOD are looking for innovators from around the globe with ideas that will change the world for the better. The contestant with the top solution will receive $50,000 to make their dream a reality.
  • WHEN: Deadline for submissions is May 17

Verizon Powerful Answers Award

  • WHO: Individuals 18 or older
  • WHAT: Verizon (yes, the phone company) is on the hunt for inventors and entrepreneurs with smart solutions to social issues of all sizes. The contest has three categories—health care, education, and sustainability—to direct submissions toward. Winners could  go home with up to $1 million bucks—and a marketable idea to boost.
  • WHEN: Deadline to enter the contest is June 30

CCEMC Grand Challenge: Innovative Carbon Uses

  • WHO: Open to (but not limited to) companies, research institutions, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and inventors.
  • WHAT:  A four-year long award program,this challenge aims to find one foolproof tech-based model to convert greenhouse gases into valuable products. CCEMC will narrow down the contestants every two years, first starting with a group of 20, given $500,000 to start developing their idea, and ending with awarding a sole winner $10 million to boost their product into the tech market.
  • WHEN: Deadline for applications is July 15

Know of more opportunities? Let us know in the comments below.

Tags: , , , ,



How do you put your intentions into practice?

Being International Women’s Day, we’d be silly not to highlight a woman who’s working hard to inspire and challenge her gender every day. Although her focus is on young girls and women, her approach can easily apply to anyone at any stage of their life.

“What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”

The question, casually brought up by a friend five years ago, took Ann Drew Yu off guard. At the time, Yu was a middle school English teacher in Minneapolis, eager for something new.

She recently had become fascinated by the art of feng shui—specifically the way it uses the physical orientation of a room to spark mental inspiration—and had wanted to find a way to share its intents with her students. But she had never seen it becoming a reality. Until then.

“One thing led to another,” says Yu. “And the idea came for the Intention Box.”

After working first-hand with middle school and high school-aged girls (and having once been a teenage girl herself), Yu saw a need to empower young women through an objective-based tool, dubbed the Intention Box for Girls.

The box set contains a deck of cards asking thought-provoking questions (“What positive thought would help me today?” or “How can I get more comfortable speaking up?”) and a journal to record girls’ responses and own unique goals.

Yu says that her Intention Box for Girls "gives young women life skills that go hand in hand with change."

Yu says that her Intention Box for Girls “gives young women life skills that go hand in hand with change.”

Now, two years after Yu’s first box hit the market, the kit is widely popular among young girls across Minnesota, and Yu’s new 8-week public school program based off of the box has attracted interest from a handful of teachers.

But how did she ignite her own intentions to bring the product to this stage?

It all goes back to analyzing her own missed intentions in her youth.

“I would have loved something like this as a girl,” she says. “Imagine being able to explore forgiveness, kindness and self-exploration at that stage. If you learn how to form your intentions in life early on, it sticks with you.”

To understand the real questions that would help pre-teen and teenage girls visualize their goals, Yu met with teachers, parents, and therapists to get inside their heads. But, she says, she found the real answers in working with young women themselves.

“It amazes me how intuitive younger girls are,” says Yu, who test ran her first intention box with a group of 10 to 15-year-old girls. “To hear how they made [the box] their own and what they thought it was missing, that was the most helpful.”

But there were certain parts in the development process where Yu had to rely on her own creativity. To financially kickstart the Intention Box, Yu took out home equity loans on her own house and reached out to already-cemented supporters across the city for a financial push.

“The whole project was very intuitive, driven by passion and creativity,” she says. “And I had to take some chances.”

Yu says that the money put into the project has almost paid itself off. But, she stresses that it was far from easy.

“This was no overnight success story, it took over ten years to bring my intentions into something tangible. But that’s not meant to discourage anyone,” she says. “It’s best to just always have your eye on the immediate future. Take it as it comes, step by step, and you will get there.”

_

Do you know a young girl who could benefit from the Intention Box? Or have your own questions about setting personal goals? Feel free to contact Ann Drew Yu at anndrewyu@comcast.net

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



4 funding opportunities for your big idea

Have an idea but a lack of funding is making you feel stuck? Here are some opportunities you won’t want to miss:

2014 Prize in Creating Shared Value

Did you know the company that brings you Crunch, Cheerios, and more also has a sweet spot for social innovation? Every other year Nestlé highlights local efforts making positive impact.

  • Area of focus: Nutrition, water, or rural development
  • Prize: One winner will receive approximately $530,000 to scale or replicate their project.
  • Eligibility: Successfully piloted programs, businesses, or social enterprises around the world.
  • Deadline: March 31, 2013

Next Century Innovators Awards

Funding makes the social innovation world go round. (Photo via B Tal on Flickr’s Creative Commons.)

The Rockefeller Foundation turns 100 years old this year. To celebrate, the foundation “is calling on the ingenuity of innovators to chart new paths that will transform the lives of billions working in informal economies across the globe.”

  • Area of focus: Poverty
  • Prize: Up to ten finalists will have the chance to apply for a $100,000 grant. Three nominees, one of whom will be a youth recipient, will also get the gift of being honored at Foundation’s Innovation Forum in NYC this year.
  • Eligibility: Individuals 18 and older as well as organizations, businesses, and schools around the world.
  • Deadline: April 1, 2013

Peace First Prize

Contrary to stereotypes, young people today don’t all play video games or ignore the news. The Peace First Prize honors youth who are committed to the triad of compassion, courage, and collaborative change in their community or school.

  • Area of focus: Peacemaking
  • Prize: Five winners will each receive a $50,000 Peace First Fellowship over two years to continue their work or put toward their education.
  • Eligibility: U.S. citizens between the ages of 8 and 22 who have implemented a project domestically.
  • Deadline: April 12, 2013

Caplow Children’s Prize

Run by the Whole New World Foundation, this online contest seeks ideas for life-saving innovations that prevent child mortality before the age of five.

  • Area of focus: Child mortality
  • Prize: One winner will receive $1,000,000 to implement their idea.
  • Eligibility: Individuals or organizations around the world.
  • Deadline: April 12, 2013

Do you know of more opportunities? Leave them below in the comments!

Tags: , , , , , ,



Discover hidden common interests with this new app

As part of the programs team at Idealist, I’m interested in obstacles to action—things that stand in our way when we want to do something to make the world a better place.

One obstacle that we all face is that we have an incomplete picture of what the people around us can help us with. The past experiences of the people around us can be a tremendous asset when we’re looking to do good. They might be able to to recommend a volunteer opportunity, or may have worked on projects similar to our own in the past.

But we don’t know they can help us, and they don’t know what we want, so we can’t take advantage of their knowledge.

PeopleHunt MapAt the Feast conference in October, I bumped into Adrian Avendano, who co-created an app that tackles this problem head-on. PeopleHunt helps you meet up with people who have the knowledge you’re looking for or would like to learn something from you.

Here’s how it works: You can use the app to import any of your existing Facebook groups, or join one of the open groups that are available—for instance, the “New York Tech Meetup” group. You’ll see a list of all the things people from your groups would be interested in talking about, and can add your own. Choose any topic that you’re interested in, and the app will alert you when that person is nearby, so you can meet.

If the idea of putting yourself out there for anyone to find makes you nervous, you can limit your sharing to a private Facebook group so you control who you meet up with.

This is still a young app, and right now it’s only available for iPhone, but it could turn into a great tool for exploring your network and expanding your knowledge.

Do you have a favorite app for making connections? Share it in the comments.

Tags: , ,



Have medicine, clothes, food, or tech to donate? We can help.

featured

Have too much canned corn at home? Consider donating to a food drive. (Photo by Bernard Pollack, Flickr/Creative Commons)

If you’re anything like me, you have a stash of clothing that you swear you’re planning to wear any day now, but that you haven’t touched in years. Or your organization has a pile of old laptops in a back closet. Or you have some medicine you’d really rather not throw away but don’t need. So many of you have contacted us (including a staffer’s beloved grandma!) asking where you can donate these goods that we decided it was time to put together a resource.

Take a look at our Community Support Team’s Resources for making a noncash donation page and visit Charity Navigator’s site for more great tips.

Here are a few highlights that we’ve compiled:

  • Donate items that are new, unused, or nearly new; a charity probably can’t make use of old junk any better than you can (…and may have to use valuable resources to do it).
  • If you are looking to donate medicine, it must be unused, unopened, and unexpired. Laws vary state to state, so make sure you check here or ask your pharmacist for more information.
  • Consider selling your items and donating the money you receive to charity. Try Craigslist, Ebay, or get offline and organize a garage sale!
  • Look for a local charity to maximize your impact. This cuts down on transportation costs for you or for the charity. Make sure you get in touch with them to insure your donation will be welcome and useful!

Check out our full resource here. Of course, you can also use Idealist to search for organizations in your area, and get in touch with them directly about your items to donate.

If you work with or know of an organization that we should add to our list, please contact us here!

Tags: , , , ,