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  • Ignite Community Innovation Challenge

Ignite Community Innovation Challenge

Why Ignite?

Do you have an incredible idea scribbled on the back of a napkin, an awesome concept stuck in your head, or a nugget of inspiration you know could provide sustainable solutions to impact the greater good if you were just provided with the resources to implement it? With an Ignite Community Innovation Challenge award, what can be imagined can be made a reality. We believe providing the opportunity and encouragement to take risks can result in change that will ignite the work of nonprofits and the issues they are addressing in our community.

2016 Ignite Information Sheet

The Challenge

      • We are looking for ideas that are clear and innovative, create enhancements in practices, create a stronger focus on mission for the organization, have a viable chance of success and provide approaches that could be applicable to other organizations resulting in industry best practices.

      • Submission timeline is May 9-July 15, 2016.  The innovation Investors lengthened this time frame to ensure the innovative concept has time to be vetted by the organization as part of a strategic vision for the charitable work. 
      • Submitters are asked to provide a two paragraph summary of their innovative idea and how it will create impact.  In addition, the Innovation Investors are looking for organizations that are committed to a culture of innovation in order to achieve their mission in Central Iowa.
      • Innovation Investors will identify finalists for the Challenge in late August. Each finalist will then be invited to engage with community volunteers, entrepreneurs, Innovation Investors and others from Sept-November to refine their concept and prepare a pitch that best positions their organization to launch the innovative idea. 
      • Finalists will be invited to make a pitch at a LIVE community event to a panel to sell their innovative idea. The event will take place on December 1, 2016.
      • Based on the pitches presented, the community panel will name a winner and runner-up of the Ignite Community Innovation Challenge.

      • Does the idea re-frame, reposition, or re-imagine how the issue is being addressed?

      • Does the idea move past incremental innovation?  Does it push past the same audience, cost cutting measures, or small changes?
      • Does the idea present a real possibility of impacting the greater good?
      • Could the idea be used as a best practice or ignite future innovation in the nonprofit field?
      • Does the idea have some element of "wow" or "uniqueness" that is appealing and would bring positive attention to the nonprofit sector?
      • Do the organizations involved have a commitment to innovation?  Are they willing to engage in refining the concept through conversations, coaching and connections?
      • Collaborations between a variety of organizations (for-profit and nonprofit), individuals, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and/or private sector organizations that are committed to innovation for the public good are encouraged to apply.  Ultimately, each collaborative partnership must have a nonprofit 501(c)(3) engaged as the lead applicant. 
      • All winners must be willing to share the innovative idea with the community to encourage unique approaches to common problems.

    What We Are Looking For

    We are looking for submissions that...

    • are clear and innovative.
    • create enhancements to current practices.
    • ultimately creates a stronger focus on mission for the organization.
    • have a viable chance of success.
    • provide scalable approaches that could be applicable to other organizations resulting in industry best practices.

    We are not looking to support...

    • building projects or renovations.
    • fees for memberships, dues, subscriptions, etc.
    • reduction of deficits or debt retirement.
    • special events/conferences or sponsorships.
    • sectarian religious programming.
    • efforts not supported by a nonprofit organization
    • projects outside of Greater Des Moines 

    The Awards

    This isn't your typical grant program; after all, we aren't seeking typical ideas. This opportunity is being issued as a challenge with an anticipated top prize of up to $30,000 and a runner-up prize of up to $15,000. All prizes awarded will be used to ignite the innovative idea and propel it forward. 

    Past Ignite award recipients. 

    2016 Innovation Investors (as of May 10, 2016)

    • Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
    • Bankers Trust
    • Bravo Greater Des Moines
    • Businessolver
    • John Deere
    • Kum & Go
    • Mid-Iowa Health Foundation
    • Nationwide
    • Principal
    • Riley Resource Group
    • Sammons Financial Group
    • United Way of Central Iowa

For more information

Angela Dethlefs-Trettin

Chief Community Impact Officer


Phone (515) 224-0340