The Blog

A Culture of Innovative Ideas: My Conversation with the Winners of the $75,000 Social Innovation Challenge

The inaugural challenge attracted submissions from 23 states across the nation, as well as the District of Columbia. Three winners were chosen based upon the following criteria: originality and innovation, business model approach, experience of team, potential scalability of business, potential for return on investment, and social impact.
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Social innovation, activism, problem solving, thought leadership - no matter what phrase you use to describe it, there is a need to accelerate the process of generating and adopting new ideas to meet unmet societal needs.

With this in mind, last summer I partnered with the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland to launch a $75,000 Social Innovation Challenge. Our goal was to help address some of society's most pressing and complex issues in three key areas: hunger, education, and sustainability.

The inaugural challenge attracted submissions from 23 states across the nation, as well as the District of Columbia. Three winners were chosen based upon the following criteria: originality and innovation, business model approach, experience of team, potential scalability of business, potential for return on investment, and social impact.

Today I spoke with the three winners -- Alexander Moore, director of development & communications at DC Central Kitchen (partnered with Mike Curtin, CEO DC Central Kitchen); Christopher Brown, regional executive director of BUILD (partnered with Kamilla Kovacs, BUILD); and Derrius Quarles, founder of Million Dollar Scholar -- about their projects and the importance of innovation.

Listen to The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI at http://www.tavissmileyradio.com. Afterwards, share your thoughts and insights with me on Twitter @tavissmiley.