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Help Design a Better World: Host a Solve-a-thon!

Last month: Solve opened four new challenges. This month: we invite you to host a Solve-a-thon, a facilitated half-to-full day design workshop to help your community create, refine, and submit solutions to our challenges.

Building sustainable food and water systems for cities. Helping everyone achieve optimal brain health. Creating gender equity in economic prosperity. Educating a 21st century workforce. Responses to these global problems will require many skillsets and backgrounds. In some places, people have already created solutions out of necessity, and in many others, creative people are ready to roll up their sleeves. Be a part of this movement by submitting a solution or hosting a Solve-a-thon in June or July.

These four 2017 Solve challenges are now live and open for submission:

We’re now in the most important part of the Solve calendar: generating and unearthing the best ideas from everywhere around the world to address these challenges. Anyone can submit solutions and/or comment and give feedback on existing ideas.

For those with a serious drive to see action on these challenges in their own communities, we’re pleased to publicly invite you to host Solve-a-thons—design workshops aimed at generating and refining solutions, whether from scratch or from startups. Solve-a-thons have a flexible format rooted in human-centered design.

A few examples:

  1. A two-hour session at a Startup Festival, helping local businesses apply their innovations to social and environmental impact towards any or all of our four challenges.
  2. A half-day workshop with young professionals at a co-working space, working with local architects and public health experts to tackle our Brain Health challenge by designing better spaces.
  3. An office-wide volunteer day at a software company in Australia, setting the whole company on our Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future challenge and bringing in both learning experts and local teachers.
  4. A social entrepreneurship college course in Nairobi working with the local community to develop new business models for sustainable water and food supplies over the course of a weekend.
  5. A high school bringing together 100 students for the afternoon to develop five solutions each for the four challenges, with help from various teachers and building off of ideas on our Open Innovation Platform.

What do I need to host?

Any organization can volunteer to host a Solve-a-thon, regardless of location, demographics, or internet connection. Solve’s Open Innovation Platform accepts submissions from now until August 1, and we aim to reach as many corners of the world as possible and find phenomenal people whose ideas might not otherwise become widely available. You’ll need:

  • A room where 25+ participants can work in small groups, sketch out or build models of what you’re developing, and present the final ideas.

  • Facilitators to keep participants on track and keep the room active. Facilitators help maximize creativity and get groups unstuck.
  • Subject matter experts for the challenges you focus on—these can be local professors, on-the-ground experts, or people in between.
  • Food and materials throughout the day. People run on snacks (and coffee), and ideas run on sticky notes, easel pads, and markers.
  • Content, schedule, best practices from Solve. We do this part for you! We’ll provide a toolkit and digital training that covers different event lengths, audiences, facilitator tips & tricks, and much more.

How do I sign up?

Solve-a-thons are free to host and must be free to attend. We encourage hosts from anywhere in the world to apply - there are great ideas everywhere, and Solve’s mission is to find them, make them visible, and get them the resources they need to have an impact. Interested hosts should submit some background information on their event plans here. Approved hosts will get access to our full toolkit of materials.

Current Solve members have access to additional resources when hosting Solve-a-thons, including event curation and staff facilitation. Solve Membership also provides a deeper engagement throughout the Solve calendar year—for more information, please contact membership@solve.mit.edu. If you are interested in hosting but have questions, please feel free to reach out to our team at solve@mit.edu. We look forward to seeing the solutions you help generate!

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