As the clock ticked toward midnight on Friday night, donations for the JobRaising Challenge finalists continued to pour in. The six-week long contest was nearing its conclusion, but donors showed little sign of letting up. $185,000 was raised in the last hour alone, capping a final week when over half a million dollars was committed to the cause of American job creation.
Seventy-four nonprofits whose mission is to create jobs and connect people to work faced off to see who could raise the most money for their cause. In addition to $150,000, $50,000 and $30,000 for the top three fundraisers, the nonprofits were also striving to hit funding benchmarks to win various HuffPost prizes, from personalized tweets on the Huffington Post twitter feed to featured blog posts on the HuffPost front page.
The awards created an incentive for donor support while the Huffington Post platform allowed the nonprofits to raise their public profiles and keep the jobs conversation moving forward. The initiative was put on by the Huffington Post in partnership with the Skoll Foundation, Crowdrise and knowledge partner McKinsey & Company.
In the end, JVS Los Angeles raised $254,100 and claimed the $150,000 grand prize. Founded in 1931, JVS L.A. serves nearly 30,000 people each year in the diverse Southern California community, providing individuals with the tools, resources and guidance they need to find -- and keep -- employment. In addition to the $254,100 brought in during the competition and a $5,000 mini-challenge prize for raising the most money during the final week, the amount raised for JVS Los Angeles totaled $409,100.
After the dust had finally settled, JVS Los Angeles CEO Vivian Seigel weighed-in on the experience. "What amazed us about the Challenge was the way it galvanized our donors at every level, who gave literally from $10 to $10,000," Seigel said. "We are so grateful for their enthusiasm and generosity. And of course the real winners are the clients of every single JobRaising nonprofit that has more resources today to make a difference in peoples’ lives.”
Venture for America came in second after raising $253,205, less than one thousand dollars shy of the winning amount. The New York-based nonprofit trains and places top college graduates at start-ups around the country, giving them valuable experience in the world of entrepreneurship. The organization is planning to use the funds to expand to Cleveland and Baltimore this year and develop new curricular resources.
Rounding out the top five were Baker Industries, Boaz and Ruth, and the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) with donated sums of $111,759, $68,250 and $61,560, respectively.
Overall, seventy four finalists chosen from 217 applicants competed in the initiative. $1,543,016 was raised for job-creating nonprofits, with $1.2 million coming from individual donors through the CrowdRise competition. The finalists contributed over 200 original blogs to the Huffington Post on issues related to job creation and can be seen on the Opportunity: What Is Working page.
Arianna appeared on HuffPost Live Monday afternoon with JVS L.A. CEO Vivian Seigel and Venture for America CEO Andrew Yang, as well as Brittany Boettcher of the Skoll Foundation and Alma Zavala, an Iraq veteran and client of JVS, to congratulate the winners and announce the initiative's success.
"We do our share of focusing on what's dysfunctional, but I'm proudest of the work we do focusing on what is working, on what is amazing in America," Arianna said. "Especially as we see how dysfunctional Washington has become and how hard it is to get any solutions out of Washington, increasingly people are looking into the mirror and seeing the leader in the mirror and saying, 'What can I do to be a part of the solution?'"