Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge winners

Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge winners

Three projects spearheaded by nonprofit organizations Caras con Causa, Center for Sustainable Micro-businesses and Agricultural Technologies (CMTAS by its Spanish acronym) in Yauco and the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico’s Barranquitas campus, were the top winners at the Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge.

The competition was launched on March as a way to encourage Puerto Rican community organizations to forge alliances with different sectors and then propose great ideas to generate social change.

As a result of the fundraising efforts to benefit victims of Hurricane María, both Fundación Banco Popular and the Hispanic Federation agreed that Puerto Rico needed spaces and opportunities to think differently and come up with solutions that would address our society’s most pressing challenges. Working in tandem we created a million-dollar fund to sponsor the island’s first social innovation challenge, a one-of-a-kind competition in Puerto Rico whose format is well known in other countries around the world.

“Puerto Rico’s success is determined by Puerto Ricans. I said it on the day we launched the Challenge and I reiterate it today with even greater conviction. The more than 70 proposed ideas bear witness to our humanity in times of adversity, and especially of what we are capable of achieving when people trust us and we take advantage of real opportunities,” said Richard L. Carrión, chairman of our board of directors.

The three winners received an initial prize of $150,000 to pilot their great social change ideas for six months. Then they will compete for a first place (up to an additional $450,000), second place (up to an additional $300,000) and third place (up to an additional $200,000) prizes to run their projects for a period of 12 additional months.

“This process has reaffirmed what we already knew: that Puerto Rico is full of potential with people who work with love and dedication to see their families and communities move forward. Nine semifinalist alliances had the opportunity to present their great ideas to a panel of judges composed of experts in different fields. Thank you for supporting the vision of the Hispanic Federation and Fundación Banco Popular of rethinking the ways in which we live, learn and work to create a future in which communities are the engines of social change in Puerto Rico”, said Hispanic Federation senior vice president Frankie Miranda.

The selected projects will receive support through mentors, experts, professional exchanges and the experience of attending the Solve at MIT 2019 event, a program associated to the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) that launches annual global challenges featuring competitors from all corners of the world. Winners will be put in contact with donors and social investors who can provide continuity to their great ideas.

The remaining five semifinalist teams—led by the Ismael Rivera Foundation, the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras Campus, the Student and Researching Teacher Center (CEMI by its Spanish acronym) and the Puerto Rico Historic Building Drawing Society—received a $25,000 prize. In addition to the three main prizes, an honorable mention with a $100,000 prize was awarded to Unidos por Utuado for their great impact potential.

“The great thing about the Puerto Rico Big Ideas Challenge was the ability to highlight Puerto Rican communities’ knowledge in terms of how to solve problems and overcome challenges. The legacy of this project is hope and action in light of a long recovery process,” Carrión added.

For more information about the projects, go to www.fundacionbancopopular.org/bigideas/.