RI Non-Profit Wins $50,000 in Innovation Competition

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

 

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$100,000 competition

RI’s Man Up won the grand prize of the Nonprofit Innovation Lab’s competition for non-profits, winning  $50,000 in seed funding to support the creation of new economic development opportunities for previously incarcerated men of color.

Finishing second and receiving $25,000 was College Crusade of RI, with Genesis Center placing third and was awarded $15,000.

“The Nonprofit Innovation Lab breathed new life into my idea and helped me tap into my strengths and remain focused on the underrepresented men Man Up supports,” said Rhonda Price, the organization’s CEO and Founder. “The support I received toward my pursuit for social justice took my passion to a whole new level, guiding me from ideas to action. I can’t express enough my appreciation and respect for everyone who made this all possible.”

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The  joint program of United Way of Rhode Island and Social Enterprise Greenhouse —  the Nonprofit Innovation Lab — offered 10 nonprofits the chance to transform their ideas into reality to address community needs and create positive social impact. The initiative consisted of three components and relied on entrepreneurial thinking and a social enterprise curriculum, and the critical resources of coaching, access to networks and capital needed to bring ideas to life.

“This was a tremendous learning experience for everyone involved and a unique way to hone new ideas that tackle issues that have persisted for far too long,” said Cortney Nicolato, President and CEO of United Way. “We feel strongly that this model can help our state to move forward. And while there is a winning pitch, the fact is everyone has come out of this program with invaluable knowledge and a collective of projects that carry a lot of potential.”

The months-long effort culminated in a virtual “Shark Tank-like” event, where Fuerza Laboral and House of Hope CDC also made compelling pitches, with each receiving $2,500 in funding. The finalists were determined in October during a digital selection round in which Rhode Islanders were invited to watch videos and vote for their favorite idea. During its winning pitch, Man Up, Inc. detailed how establishing a commercial indoor hydroponic vegetable business will create emerging jobs and economic development opportunities for previously incarcerated men of color. The new business would also provide the organization with financial sustainability to further its work to ensure equal opportunity and prosperity for those who too often face societal barriers to advancing their lives.

“It has been an honor to work with all ten NIPL fellows over the last several months. Their innovative ideas, coupled with passion and commitment are exactly what are needed to address some of our state's most pressing social challenges,” said Kelly Ramirez, CEO of SEG. “We applaud their efforts and look forward to continuing to work together to ensure the fellows have the resources to execute on the innovations.”

The inaugural Nonprofit Innovation Lab receives financial support from BankNewport and Wells Fargo.

RI’s Man Up won the grand prize of the Nonprofit Innovation Lab’s competition for non-profits, winning  $50,000 in seed funding to support the creation of new economic development opportunities for previously incarcerated men of color.

 
 

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