NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

By signing up to our newsletter, you agree to our terms.

Philly, Let’s Steal An Idea!

We brought together innovators from other cities. Apply by January 18th for $50,000 to steal one of three big ideas for Philly

We brought together innovators from other cities. Apply by January 18th for $50,000 to steal one of three big ideas for Philly

By the year 2050, it is expected that two-thirds of the world population will live in cities. By necessity, then, at a time when the federal and state governments seem to be increasingly AWOL, cities have become the nation’s best hope for innovation and progress. We don’t have the luxury of ideology. By default, cities have become the last bastion of practical problem-solving.

That’s why The Citizen convened our inaugural Ideas We Should Steal Festival before a packed crowd last month at Drexel University. Sponsored by, among others, Comcast NBCUniversal, FS Investments, Campus Apartments and the United Way, we brought in innovators from cities across the nation and around the globe, to share what’s worked elsewhere.

There were some bold-faced names you’d recognize: Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and former New Jersey Governor Christie Todd Whitman made us nostalgic for a time when Democrats and Republicans didn’t vilify one another, and Rev. Michael Eric Dyson talked about hope as a balm in these troubled times. But there were also folks you’d never heard of, who are making real inroads on seemingly intractable problems like the opioid epidemic, gentrification, and income inequality.

Do Something

Our mission is not just to chronicle what’s wrong, but also to air how to fix things. To that end, we asked all in attendance and all who visited our site since to vote for the top three ideas presented at the Festival. And now we’re announcing a Request for Proposal from individuals or groups who want to steal one of those ideas and bring it here by qualifying for the $50,000 Jeremy Nowak Urban Innovation Award, named for our founding Chairman, courtesy of social impact venture Spring Point Partners.

Over 3,000 votes came in, and here are the three ideas that carried the day:

Read More

The award process behind the Nowak Urban Innovation Award will summon the spirit of the late Jeremy Nowak, a civic icon who was all about practical problem-solving. The “business for good” mantra might be all the rage nowadays, but Nowak was ahead of the curve. With a $10,000 grant, he founded the Reinvestment Fund in the 1980s, a financial institution that raises money from corporations and wealthy individuals and lends to developers who build affordable housing and grocery stores in distressed neighborhoods. The result? Over $1 billion of equitable urban development.

Philadelphia needs more of that kind of disruptive, moonshot thinking, which is why we want to highlight, and invest in, a new generation of Jeremy Nowaks. “The future belongs to the problem-solvers,” Nowak wrote, with Drexel’s Bruce Katz, in The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive In The Age of Populism. Prove him right by applying for the first annual Nowak Urban Innovation Award.

To apply, send a two page overview to NowakAward@thephiladelphiacitizen.org that includes who you are and who you plan to partner with; what problem you seek to solve, and which solution you want to bring here; the scope, scale, and key benchmarks of your project; a budget; and how you’ll measure impact. Applications are due by the end of the day on January 18th, and we’ll announce a winner on February 1, chosen by a committee that includes The Citizen, members of the Nowak family, and civic and philanthropic leaders.

Find out more here.

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We want to be a communal space. But that doesn’t mean you have a First Amendment right to be an idiot. Send us an insulting, offensive and/or wildly off-topic comment and not only will we refrain from posting it -- we will laugh at you before we hit delete.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story