They say that times of crisis ignite the spark of creativity and elicit the best ideas. With this in mind, the Banco Popular Foundation and the Hispanic Federation announced the launch of the “Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge,” a contest of innovative ideas with a social impact with awards of up to $1.5 million.
The objective of this initiative is to encourage the development of novel and creative projects that transform communities six months after Hurricane María. These projects must be led by nonprofit organizations that work in partnership with other sectors and impact a community.
The focus should be on areas of economic development, educational innovation, technology, alternative sources of energy, health services, social mobility, housing, the environment, food sustainability and telecommunications, among others.
“I firmly believe in the initiative and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Puerto Rican people. With this project we look for nonprofit organizations that have innovative proposals,” said Richard Carrión, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Banco Popular Foundation.
“We want to promote ideas that present concrete solutions to face the great challenges that we’re experiencing. We hope to receive projects that allow us to start reinventing ourselves as an island,” he said.
The “Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge” will benefit those who have a great idea ready to implement and that requires financial support to get it going. Only proposals of original projects by alliances composed of three or more partners led by a nonprofit organization will be accepted. Three finalist teams will receive a prize of up to $150,000 each to test the implementation plan presented with their idea.
After six months, the success of the execution of the ideas will be measured and a first place winner of up to $450,000 will be selected, a second winner of up to $300,000 and the third of up to $200,000.
In addition to the economic incentive, the winners will benefit from a personalized training program and specialized advisory services that will allow them to define their objectives and goals, Foundation executives said.
Meanwhile, Hispanic Federation Presidente José Calderón said the partnership with the Banco Popular Foundation “marks the beginning of a second stage in our trajectory of aid to Puerto Rico after the passage of hurricanes Irma and María. Our Federation has been present on the island since day one with basic supplies to relieve a devastated island.”
“Our mission has already entered a second stage, helping in Puerto Rico’s recovery and reconstruction. The ‘Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge’ is a great example of the purpose of the presence of our Federation on the Island,” he said.
Those interested in participating must complete the contest application on or before June 29, 2018. For more information, visit the Foundation’s website.
Participation is not limited to Puerto Rico residents, as it is open to proposals from the U.S. mainland, specifically from the Puerto Rican diaspora, Calderón said.
The “Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge” joins the initiatives that the Banco Popular Foundation has carried out through its “Embracing Puerto Rico” campaign, focused on supporting multiple recovery efforts in the communities most affected by Hurricane María.
This effort began with a $1 million contribution from Popular Inc. $6.1 million raised from corporate donors and individuals.
Beatríz Polhamus, executive director of the Banco Popular Foundation, said “three decades of experience in the philanthropic sector have taught the Banco Popular Foundation that, to have a lasting and tangible impact, the transforming role of nonprofit organizations must be trusted.”
“Our current medium-term recovery approach is to finance projects that will stabilize communities by providing access to clean water, solar energy and the economic recovery of Puerto Rico, among others,” she said.