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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Good Money Challenge awards first place to Milwaukee-based company

The Good Money Challenge
Photo via
The Good Money Challenge Photo via

The winner of the Good Money Challenge, a competition that seeks to fund business ventures and innovative ideas that will have significant environmental or social impact, is a Milwaukee-based company with a goal of supporting homeownership.

Every year, 10 finalists are chosen and given the opportunity to do a live pitch in front of a panel of judges.

This year’s Good Money Challenge was the third of its kind, with the competition beginning in 2013.

“What made the 2015 Good Money Challenge unique is that we partnered with the Mayor’s Office and the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Week,” said Kelsey Otero, Coordinator of the Social Innovation Initiative, in an email.

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The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Week is an event held throughout a week that features a variety of events and competitions. Mayor Tom Barrett attended to present awards.

The Good Money Challenge, as well as the seed funds for the winners, are provided by Brady Corporation, which is headquartered in Milwaukee.

Applicants come from all over the country and do not have to be affiliated with Marquette.

“We keep a close relationship with many of the teams following the live pitch and bring them back to campus to speak (and) mentor,” Otero said.

The first place prize of the Good Money Challenge went to Strong Blocks, a company that seeks to assist Milwaukee families who have difficulty getting loans or financial support to become homeowners.

“We know how hard it is to buy a home,” said Carl Quindel, CEO of Strong Blocks, in an email. “Too many families who could own pay more to rent.”

Quindel said Strong Blocks is dedicated to helping families achieve home ownership within 21 months, using its rent-to-own program. Each family is individually assisted by a team of financial counselors, realtors and banks through the program.

“We are honored to have the support of strong, local and independent loan officers, home buying counselors, financial coaches, property managers and realtors who care deeply about this group of families as well,” Quindel said.

Quindel said nine out of 10 families who seek a responsible path to homeownership cannot get approved by the bank and do not have enough money to purchase a home.

“We hear a lot about central-city Milwaukee problems, but not enough about the hardworking families that make up each block, especially on the near north-side,” Quindel said.  “There’s a lot of fear and mistrust.”

The company hopes that by working closely with individuals in the community, they can help foster an environment of stability and freedom that comes with affordable homeownership.

Strong Blocks is based in Milwaukee and does not operate in any other cities.

“We still have a lot of work to do, but we are very hopeful (that we will expand) based on progress to date,” Quindel said.

Two teams competing had Marquette affiliations. Tamara Cohen and Jacob Rammer, two Marquette graduate students, pitched Engineers2Assist, a company that would bring sustainable and effective technology to people with disabilities. Bee the Change, another finalist, is a collaboration between Redeemer Lutheran, the Zeidler Center, Beepods and Marquette’s Noon Run program.

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