Strong Communities: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change
The scope of the competition is to identify innovative projects and ideas that engage citizens to steer change and build strong communities across the United States and Canada.
Winners Announced! Each winner will receive a prize of USD $5,000.
You may continue to read and comment on all entries. As always, we welcome your feedback.
Dear Changemakers Community,
The vitality and quality of life in small towns and urban neighborhoods throughout America are threatened by an array of challenges: one-size-fits-all development, decreasing social capital and disconnections between neighbors, struggling local economies, and rampant or sluggish growth. Just as troubling is the loss of unique local character and values – communities’ heart and soul. Even successful and established communities face serious challenges like changing economies, lack of affordable housing, substandard education and a global energy crisis.
Ashoka’s Changemakers and CommunityMatters know that when citizens rise to meet these challenges with creative solutions and collaboration, their communities thrive. Through the Strong Communities competition, we invite you to tell us how citizens can connect, collaborate, and build vital, enduring places. We want to hear ideas from a diverse array of voices: the newcomers and the experienced, teens and seniors, artists and conservationists, architects and economists, the outspoken and the quiet, and the affluent and struggling. We’ll invite eight finalists to attend the CommunityMatters ’10 Conference to scale-up their work and collaborate with other leaders in the field.
Join us, roll up your sleeves, and help find effective, real solutions to the challenges facing your town and communities across the country. Submit your big, crazy, “knock-your-socks-off” ideas or actionable plans and visions that enhance the future of your community. Inspire us with transformational projects happening in your town or neighborhood, from neighbors banding together to revive the local economy to a thriving community arts initiative that connects citizens from diverse backgrounds; from a website facilitating community participation to a teen-initiated idea that involves youth in local decision-making.
This is more than a competition: we want to create a community of people who come together to celebrate, collaborate, and share solutions. Let's experiment and explore, form partnerships, and take action for a better future. We hope you’ll all join us at CommunityMatters ’10 in Denver, October 5-8, 2010 and help us grow a new community as we continue sharing solutions and collaborating for community change. Help us build our knowledge of strong communities and spread this movement throughout the United States!
President & CEO, Orton Family Foundation
Eligibility, Guidelines and Criteria
The Strong Communities: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change competition is open to all types of individuals and organizations (charitable and non-profit organizations, private companies, or public entities). We consider all entries that:
- Reflect the theme of the challenge: Strong Communities: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change. The scope of the competition is to identify innovative projects and ideas that engage citizens to steer change and build strong communities across the United States and Canada. Entries are invited from individuals and organizations.
- Indicate growth beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated impact and sustainability. While we support new ideas at every stage and encourage their entry, the judges are better able to evaluate projects that are beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated a proof of impact.
- Are located in the United States or Canada.
- Are submitted in English.
- Have NOT received material support from the Orton Family Foundation.
CommunityMatters is interested in solutions from a variety of disciplines including (but not limited to) conservation, planning, economics, politics, education, deliberative democracy and the arts, and especially encourages submission of interdisciplinary approaches. CommunityMatters has a special interest in receiving submissions from young people.
Please complete the entire entry form and submit by August 11, 2010 US at 5:00 PM EDT. All decisions of the judges will be final.
The winners of the Strong Communities: Engaging Citizens, Strengthening Place, Inspiring Change competition will be those entries that best meet the following criteria:
Innovation: This is the knock-out test; if the work is not innovative the judges will not give it high rankings. The application must describe the systemic innovation that it is focused on. The innovation should be a unique model of change demonstrating a substantial difference from other initiatives in the field with the possibility for large-scale replication. Examples of community initiatives include:
- Neighbors banding together to revive the local economy by developing sustainable businesses;
- A thriving community arts initiative that transforms the lives of those affected by poverty, unemployment, and crime;
- A local government initiative to hear from new voices and incorporate citizens’ voices into town decision making;
- A community-wide program that supports farms to supply local restaurants, day care centers, schools, and senior centers with local produce;
- A Web site that facilitates community participation and discussion on-and-off line;
- Special events or activities that build community unity and cohesion;
- A unique program to simultaneously address healthy lifestyles, local foods, and economic development; or
- A powerful teen-initiated idea that motivates young people to become engaged in the future of their communities.
Social Impact: It is important that the innovative idea provides a system-changing solution for the issue it addresses. Some innovations will have proven success at a small level, while others will have potential to grow, engaging millions of people in communities around the world. Still others will achieve their impact quickly, while some will seed change for the long term. Regardless of the level of demonstrated impact, it is important to see that the innovation has the ability to be applied in other communities. This will be judged by considering the ability to be replicated, clear how-to’s, and the entrant’s ability to formulate a clear “road map” to reaching create community change. We will consider a wide range of entries, including:
- Big crazy “knock-your-socks-off” solutions that have proof of impact;
- Initiatives that are practical and tangible, whether high-tech, low-tech, or high-touch;
- Transformational projects that are happening in your town or neighborhood and could be applied elsewhere;
- Interdisciplinary approaches where different people, organizations, and fields come together to learn from each other and collectively solve problems; or
- Programs that help people get involved in their communities, and help those places build strong, unique, enduring futures.
No idea is too small or large – we welcome provocative ideas. CommunityMatters seeks to bring the best solutions together so we uplift each other and spread these actions into other communities.
Sustainability: For an innovation to be truly effective it must have a plan for how it will acquire financial and other bases of support for the long-term. Entries should demonstrate that they have strong partnerships and long-term support networks to address an ongoing need, and to aid in scalability and the maintenance of a clear financial strategy. Entries should describe not only how they are currently financing their work, but also how they plan to finance and grow their work in the future. The most successful entrants go beyond discussing whether or not they will charge for services and describe a business and outreach plan.
Competition Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules
Online competition submissions are accepted until August 11, 2010 at 5PM US EDT. At any time before this deadline, competition participants are encouraged to revise their entries based on questions and insights that they receive in the Changemakers discussion. Participation in the discussion enhances an entrant’s prospects in the competition and provides the community and the judges an opportunity to understand the entrant’s project more completely.
There are six main stages in the competition:
- Entry Stage, June 16 – August 11, 2010: Entries can be submitted until 5PM US EDT on August 11, 2010, and throughout this stage anyone can participate in an online review discussion with the entrants.
- Online Review and Preliminary Judging, August 12-September 7, 2010: Online review and discussion continues. Simultaneously, a team of CommunityMatters staff will review entries and select the competition semi-finalists
- Semi-finalists Announced: September 8, 2010.
- Judging, September 9-September 21, 2010: Online review and discussion continues. Simultaneously, an expert panel will review entries and select finalists.
- Finalists announced/Voting Begins, September 22, 2010: The Changemakers community votes online to select the award-winners from the field of finalists
- Winners Announced – October 8, 2010 at the CommunityMatters ‘10 Conference.
Early Entry Prize: The best entry submitted by 5PM EDT, July 14, 2010 will be eligible to win USD $500. Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude you from winning the competition in any way, or guarantee finalist status. All entries will be equally evaluated per the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.
Online Winners: A panel of independent judges selected by Ashoka or CommunityMatters will select eight finalists from all of the entries submitted in the competition. All entries will be evaluated pursuant to the criteria as stated above. Each finalist will be showcased at the CommunityMatters ’10 conference and winners will be announced at the conference closing. One person representing each of the eight finalist entries of the Strong Communities competition will win the opportunity to attend the CommunityMatters ‘10 conference (includes conference and workshop registration, airfare from within the continental United States, four nights’ lodging in Denver, meals and ground transportation). The top three entries will win USD $5,000 each.
From among these 8 finalists, the Changemakers' online community will vote for three winners. In the event of a tie, the tie will be broken by a vote of the independent judges. Any person may sign into and register with Changemakers at: http://www.changemakers.com/en-us to vote.
Winners will be announced on October 8, 2010 at the CommunityMatters ‘10 conference.
Participation in the competition provides the opportunity to receive feedback from fellow entrants, Changemakers staff, judges, and the Changemakers community. Showcasing initiatives and demonstrating social impact advise potential investors about how best to maximize the strategic impact of their investments.
ReTweet Prizes: From June 16, 2010 through August 11, 2010, there will be a drawing every Monday at 12 p.m. (noon) EDT for a ReTweet prize. Any person with a Twitter account (a "Tweeter") that re-tweets a specific message from the CommunityMatters Twitter account @CommunityMttrs (twitter.com/CommunityMttrs) during the previous week will be automatically entered to win. In order to win, the Tweeter must re-tweet the entire message with hashtag (#) and mentions (@). The Tweeter must be a follower of both @changemakers (twitter.com/Changemakers) and CommunityMatters’ Twitter account @CommunityMttrs (twitter.com/CommunityMttrs) and the Tweeter must be located in the United States or Canada. Prizes may vary and will be valued at or below $20 USD. Follow #strongcomms to participate. Void where prohibited by law.
Disclaimer - Compliance with Legal Restrictions
Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. All grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.
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