Be a Problem Solver

We’re giving away $50,000 for one idea that can make Philly better. Is it yours?

Be a Problem Solver

We’re giving away $50,000 for one idea that can make Philly better. Is it yours?

The Citizen’s late chairman, Jeremy Nowak, a civic giant who started and led the Reinvestment Fund for two decades, was a man who got things done. He was a problem solver. He found answers to the big questions facing his city—education, poverty, access—and then he worked tirelessly to turn those answers into solutions, making the city—and the people who live in it—stronger for his efforts.

It’s that spirit he captured in The New Localism, the book he co-wrote with Drexel University’s Bruce Katz, in which they noted that cities are hubs of innovation and that, “Power now belongs to the problem solvers.”

And it’s the spirit in which The Citizen, with the generous support of Spring Point Partners, will award the second Jeremy Nowak Urban Innovation Award, a $50,000 grant to one organization to bring to Philly a solution inspired by our annual Ideas We Should Steal Festival in December.

The event last month at the Comcast Technology Center brought to Philly 17 innovators, thinkers, activists, business people and civic leaders from around the country—all problem-solvers who grabbed an idea and turned it into a fix for an urban woe. During the event, and for a few weeks after, we asked you to rate eight of those ideas to help us decide which one we’re going to bring here.

After about 3,000 votes, the top ideas are an indicator of the issues that are important to Philadelphians:

How Oakland Cut Gun Violence … In Half

David Muhammad, executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, laid out how Oakland cut its gun violence in half through a community-wide effort called CeaseFire.

Empowering Public Servants to be Problem Solvers

Brian Elms, of Change and Innovation Agency, talked of empowering public servants to be problem-solvers in their own right.

No Workshop, No Jumpshot: Using Hoops to Keep People Out of Prison

Taylor Paul, a recently returned citizen, closed out the day with a moving account of forming the RVA Basketball League to reduce gun violence and lower the number of people from Richmond, Virginia, who end up in prison.

Despite the name of the Festival, and the series that spawned it, we are not asking you this year to steal an idea. We are looking for solutions inspired by these top-rated ideas from the day.

To apply, send a two-page overview to [email protected] that includes (1) Who you are and which solution you want to launch here (2) Your plan for partnering with the communities most affected by the problem (3) The scope, scale and key benchmarks of your project (4) A budget (5) and how you’ll measure impact.

Applications are due by the end of the day on February 24, and we’ll announce a winner on about March 15, chosen by a committee that includes The Citizen, members of the Nowak family, and civic and philanthropic leaders.

See more—including the full RFP—here.

Photo by ActionVance on Unsplash

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