Three projects headed by nonprofits have been chosen winners of the “Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge,” spearheaded by the Banco Popular Foundation and the Hispanic Federation.
Caras con Causa, Centro de Microempresas and Tecnologías Agrícolas Sustentables in Yauco (CMTAS) and the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Barranquitas Campus, submitted the winning proposals for the competition launched March 20.
Five other teams selected as semi-finalists — Fundación Ismael Rivera, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, Centro del Estudiante y Maestro Investigador and the Puerto Rico Historic Building Drawing Society — will receive a recognition prize of $25,000. In addition to the three main prizes, an honorable mention and $100,000 will be awarded to Unidos por Utuado “for its great potential for impact.”
The initiative sought to challenge Puerto Rican community organizations to partner with different sectors and propose “grand ideas” that provoke social change.
As a result of the fundraising efforts to benefit the victims of Hurricane María, Banco Popular Foundation and the Hispanic Federation agreed that Puerto Rico needed spaces and opportunities to think differently and to act on solutions that addressed society’s most pressing challenges.
Together they created a multi-million dollar fund to nurture the first social innovation challenge, the only one of its kind in Puerto Rico already common in other world countries.
“Puerto Rico’s success is determined by Puerto Ricans. I said it on the day of the launch and I reiterate it today with greater conviction,” said Richard L. Carrión, chairman of the Banco Popular Foundation.
“The more than 70 ideas proposed are testimony of our humanity in times of adversity, and mainly, of what we are capable of achieving when they trust us and take advantage of real opportunities,” he said.
The three winners will receive an initial prize of $150,000 to pilot their “great idea for social change” for six months. Then they will compete for a first place (up to an additional $450,000,) second place ($300,000) and third place ($200,000) to execute the project for a period of 12 additional months.
“This process has reaffirmed what we already knew; that Puerto Rico is full of potential, of people who work with love and zeal to see their families and communities move forward,” said Frankie Miranda, senior vice president of the Hispanic Federation.
Nine semifinalist partnerships had the opportunity to present their “great idea” to a panel of judges composed of experts in different fields.
“Thanks for supporting the vision of the Hispanic Federation and the Banco Popular Foundation to rethink the ways in which we live, learn and work to forge a future in which communities are the engines of social change in Puerto Rico,” Miranda said.
As part of the project, Banco Popular Foundation and the Hispanic Federation will support winners with mentors, experts, exchanges and the experience of attending the “Solve at MIT 2019” event, a program associated with the Massachusetts Institute for Technology that annually proposes global challenges to competitors from all over the world. The winners will be connected with donors and social investors for the continuity of their “grand idea.”