Social innovation continues with Good Money Challenge

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Social innovation continues with Good Money Challenge

Photo by Matt Kulling / matthew.kulling@marquette.edu

Photo by Matt Kulling / matthew.kulling@marquette.edu

Photo by Matt Kulling / matthew.kulling@marquette.edu

Photo by Matt Kulling / matthew.kulling@marquette.edu

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In the Ignation spirit of cura personalis, Marquette is partnering with the Brady Corp. to host the annual social innovation initiative, “2014 Good Money Challenge.”

Kelsey Otero, the social innovation coordinator of the challenge, said in an email the competition seeks to select the most lucrative and beneficial program that can “make money and also do good by pursuing a social mission.”

After months of advertising throughout the Midwest, proposal applications are due Sept. 26 and are open to the public. According to the official page on Marquette’s website, anybody with a “great idea” is encouraged to enter. The top three winners are awarded a share of $25,000 in seed funding for their ideas and will also receive mentoring support from the Brady Corporation.

“We hope to see ideas from Marquette students, faculty, staff or alumni represented in this year’s Good Money Challenge,” Otero said. Last year’s winners were all out-of-state residents.

Brian Hill, a Northwestern University student, won the competition last year for his “Jail Education Solutions” idea, taking home $14,000 in seed funding plus an additional $1,000 “boost” to help propel his ideas forward.

Jail Education Solutions focuses on reducing recidivism rates in prisons by using tablet technology to quickly and efficiently educate inmates.

“Competitions like this are really important in social innovation,” Hill said. “It’s hard to get seed funding in the social space, and this competition helps attract investors.”

Hill said the funding came at a pivotal moment during his beta-testing phase and was crucial to the success of his project.

“We hope to do the same for the new ventures that are pitched at this year’s Good Money Challenge,” Otero said.

The competition was renamed this year, from “Midwest Social Innovation Start-Up Challenge,” in part to widen the candidate base for the challenge, and also to express the idea that money can be used for benevolent purposes.

“Many times, money takes on a negative connotation,” Otero said. However, the Brady Corporation and Marquette University wanted to emphasize that money can, in fact, be the root of all good. The new name highlights that the goal of the competition is to recognize the innovative ideas and passionate people who can use money to make a difference.”

Along with the name change, the change in University leadership marks a renewed energy for social innovation and entrepreneurship on campus.

“This event aligns nicely with Marquette’s mission to ‘Be The Difference’ and support the next generation of innovative leaders,” Otero said. “President Lovell talks a lot about innovation, and competitions like this are an important part of fostering innovation on campus.”

The 2014 spring semester saw a big cut in social innovation with the layoff of the University’s “Social Innovation Initiative” founder, Jeff Snell, because of budget cuts. As a result, the New York Times severed its affiliation with Marquette, dissolving their joint FixesU initiative due to “not having enough support to help it grow.”

All submissions will be reviewed once the application period closes, and judges will select the top 10 finalists. Those finalists will pitch their idea live on Nov. 7 at Brenner Brewing in Walker’s Point.

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