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New York Foundation Announces Major Prize Program to Support Social and Environmental Innovators

Submitted by: The J.M. Kaplan Fund

Categories: Social Entrepreneurship, Ratings & Awards

Posted: Jan 25, 2017 – 09:11 AM EST


NEW YORK, Jan. 25 /CSRwire/ - Today, The J.M. Kaplan Fund, a New York-based family foundation, is launching the 2017 edition of The J.M.K. Innovation Prize.  As in 2015, the Prize’s inaugural year, up to ten Prizes will be awarded in 2017 to support early stage ideas addressing our country’s most pressing social and environmental issues.

Prize recipients will receive 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 innovation in the fields of the environment, heritage conservation and social justice.

The 2017 edition of the Prize will accept applications from mission-driven for-profit organizations in addition to nonprofits, a departure from the 2015 eligibility guidelines.

“We were surprised and delighted to receive well over one thousand applications for the 2015 Prize, with applicants representing 45 of the 50 states” said Amy Freitag, Executive Director of The J.M. Kaplan Fund.  “These numbers paint a picture of idealistic self-starters across our country – and this is thrilling.  These figures also speak to the demand for social innovation funding that exists today.  Through The J.M.K. Innovation Prize, we aim to fill a gap in the philanthropy marketplace by taking big 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 grant making interest while remaining flexible enough to allow for fresh and unexpected thinking. Prize recipients will ideally present innovative concepts that fall within, in-between or in a matter related to the Fund’s three funding categories:

  1. The Environment – Reducing the pace and impacts of climate change.

  2. Heritage Conservation – Conserving America’s greatest monuments and places.

  3. Social Justice – Supporting decarceration and humane immigrant integration.

The J.M.K. Innovation Prize will be awarded to projects or ideas that: represent a game-changing answer to a clearly identified need; are innovative within, in-between or in a manner related to the Fund’s three funding areas; demonstrate the potential to develop an actionable pilot or prototype with Prize funding; 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 25 through April 28, 2017.  A short application is accessible via The J.M.K. Innovation Prize webpage:  A sub-set of applicants will be invited to submit a second, longer application 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 2017 to present their ideas to the trustees of The J.M. Kaplan Fund.  The Prize’s awardees will be publicly announced in November 2017.

For additional information about The J.M.K. Innovation Prize and The J.M. Kaplan Fund, please visit

The J.M. Kaplan Fund, a New York City–based family foundation, champions inventive giving that supports transformative social, environmental, and cultural causes.  Over its 71-year history, the Fund has propelled fledgling efforts concerning civil liberties, human rights, the arts, and the enhancement of the built and natural worlds.

For more information, please contact:

Justin Goldbach Program Director
Phone: 212-767-0630


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