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Major Innovation Prize, National in Scope, Launched by New York Foundation

Submitted by: The J.M. Kaplan Fund

Categories: Social Entrepreneurship, Ratings & Awards

Posted: Jan 15, 2015 – 09:00 AM EST


NEW YORK, N.Y., Jan. 15 /CSRwire/ - Today, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, a New York-based family foundation, is launching an exciting new initiative: The J.M.K. Innovation Prize.  In 2015 up to ten Prizes will be awarded to U.S.-based individuals or teams addressing our country’s most pressing needs through social sector innovation. 

The Prize will provide up to three years of support at $50,000 per year, as well as a $25,000 “bank” of funds available for technical assistance or targeted project expenses, making a total award of $175,000. 

Specifically, the Prize seeks to support inter-disciplinary innovation in the fields of cultural heritage, human rights, the built environment, and the natural environment.  The Prize is particularly designed for early stage ideas being piloted or prototyped by dynamic visionaries.

“For three generations, the J.M. Kaplan Fund has provided catalytic funding for projects in their earliest stages of development – projects such as New York’s Greenmarkets, park conservancies and coat drives that transformed our city and inspired change far beyond the five boroughs,” said Amy Freitag, Executive Director of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.  “The J.M.K. Innovation Prize will further this legacy, providing funding to visionary social entrepreneurs throughout the United States who are championing social and environmental change.”

The burgeoning field of social innovation has become a recognized area in philanthropy.  The demand for funding of this type, however, has increased so rapidly that many worthwhile ideas fail to find backing from established funders.  The J.M.K. Innovation Prize aims to fill a gap in this marketplace, not only by providing critical capital to the social innovation field, but also by taking risks on projects that may be seen by others as underdeveloped or too small.

Another difference is that the J.M.K. Innovation Prize will build on the Fund’s longstanding areas of grantmaking interest while remaining flexible enough to allow for fresh and unexpected thinking.  Prize recipients will ideally innovate across at least two of the Fund’s four traditional disciplinary boundaries: Cultural Heritage; Human Rights; The Built Environment, and; Natural Environment.

The J.M.K. Innovation Prize will be awarded to projects or ideas that: represent a game-changing answer to a clearly identified need; demonstrate an inter-disciplinary or hybridized approach, ideally involving at least two of the four areas of interest to the Fund; demonstrate the potential to develop an actionable pilot or prototype with Prize funding; show scalable impact or impact beyond the initial pilot or prototype; and hold out the promise to benefit multiple individuals, communities or sectors through a clearly articulated theory of change.

Interested individuals or teams may apply for the J.M.K. Innovation Prize from January 15 through April 30, 2015.  A short application is accessible via the J.M.K. Innovation Prize webpage: www.JMKFund.org.  A sub-set of applicants will be invited to submit a second, longer application for the Prize in late spring.  A review of these second round applications will take place throughout the summer, with finalists being flown to New York City in the fall of to present their ideas to the trustees of the J.M. Kaplan Fund.  The Prize’s awardees will be publicly announced in November 2015.

For additional information about the J.M.K. Innovation Prize and the J.M. Kaplan Fund, please visit www.JMKFund.org.

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The J.M. Kaplan Fund


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