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Who can apply to the Inspire Awards?
The Inspire Awards are open to nonprofit organizations that meet the following requirements:
- Hold a registered 501(c)(3) status with the IRS.
- Headquartered and currently deployed in at least one U.S. state.
- The organization is operating at least at a Growth Stage of Development: A registered 501(c)(3) organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth in multiple communities or countries. Organizations at the Growth Stage should have a proven track record with an annual operating budget - see Organization vs. Solution for more information.
- The organization’s solution is at least at the Pilot Stage of Development: a product, service, or business model that is in the process of being built and tested with a small number of beneficiaries or working to gain traction - see Organization vs. Solution for more information.
- Team Lead must be 18 years or older to apply: The Team Lead should be the CEO, Executive Director, Primary Investigator, or other key leader for your solution. If your solution is selected as a semi–finalist, this person will be expected to present the solution to judges during an interview session, and if selected as a finalist for the Inspire Awards, they will be the lead participant in the support program.
If your organization is a 509(a)(3) supporting organization, there will be a space provided in the application to upload a letter from your chairman, executive director or legal counsel that outlines:
- Whether your organization is a Type I, II or III supporting organization and the name of the supported organization(s).
- Confirmation that your organization is functionally integrated with the supporting organization(s) if you are a Type III supporting organization.
The Truist Foundation is especially interested in supporting solutions in, or with plans to expand to, at least one of the following 17 markets in which Truist operates: North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, D.C., Delaware.
If you have a relevant and innovative solution, we hope you’ll apply!
How are we CrowdSolving the Inspire Awards?
- Sourcing Solutions: Anyone who meets the criteria above can participate in this Challenge and submit a solution. If you are an organization at least at the growth stage who is piloting a solution or scaling a program or product, we’re looking for innovators and entrepreneurs with the most promising solutions.
- Selecting Solutions: Once the submission deadline passes, judging will begin. After an initial screening by MIT Solve staff and community reviewers, Challenge judges will select a group of 15 semifinalists with the most promising solutions. The semifinalists will participate in an interview session with Challenge Judges who will then select a cohort of seven finalists. Finalists will be awarded funding and participate in a five-month wraparound support and capacity-building program. Toward the conclusion of the support program, finalists will be invited to pitch their solutions at a pitch event, where judges will then select the award winners.
Organization vs. Solution:
- Organization: the implementing team behind the solution. The Truist Foundation Inspire Awards will only consider registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations at the Growth and Scale stages of development. The Challenge will not consider organizations in the Idea or Early Stages. See below for definitions of stages.
- Idea: An idea being explored for its feasibility to build a product, service, or business model based on that idea.
- Early: A team of individuals without a registered 501(c)(3) status or a registered 501(c)(3) organization without or a nominal operating budget, building and testing its product, service, or business model.
- Growth: A registered 501(c)(3) organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth in multiple communities or countries. Organizations at the Growth Stage should have a proven track record with an annual operating budget.
- Scale: A sustainable organization actively working in several communities that is capable of continuous scaling. Organizations at the Scale Stage have a proven track record, earn revenue, and are focused on increased efficiency within their operations.
- Solution: Product, service, or business model being implemented by the organization. The Truist Foundation Inspire Awards are seeking bold, forward thinking and innovative solutions that will inspire and influence the future of entrepreneurship in the United States. The Challenge will consider solutions in the Pilot, Growth or Scale stages of development. See below for definitions of stages.
- Concept: An idea being explored for its feasibility to build a product, service, or business model based on that idea.
- Pilot: a product, service, or business model that is in the process of being built and tested with a small number of beneficiaries or working to gain traction.
- Growth: an established product, service, or business model that is sustainable through proven effectiveness and is poised for further growth into additional communities.
- Scale: a sustainable product, service or business model that is active in multiple communities, which is capable of continuous scaling, focusing on increased efficiency.
The most important point to note is that your solution addresses the focus of Truist Foundation Inspire Awards. Through open innovation, this Challenge is looking for a diverse portfolio of solutions across regions and team members’ gender, experience and background. We strongly believe that there is no singular solution to the world’s most complex challenges—and encourage people of all backgrounds to submit their applications.
How will my solution be evaluated?
The judging panel for this Challenge will be comprised of leaders and experts from across industries. After an initial screening by MIT Solve staff and community reviewers, the judges will score the screened solutions based on the following criteria. All criteria will be given equal weight:
- Alignment: The solution addresses the key dimensions of the Truist Foundation Inspire Awards. See bulleted dimension on the Challenge Description page here.
- Potential for Impact: The planned solution implementation has the potential to be transformative in its impact and improve sustainability and longevity for small businesses and their ecosystems.
- Feasibility: Solution implementation is feasible, and the team has a plan for financial sustainability.
- Innovative Approach: This is a new solution, a new application of a solution, a new business model, or a new process for solving the challenge, and the team clearly identifies its competitive advantages (e.g. intellectual property).
- Proximate Leadership: The solution is led by a visionary entrepreneur, innovator, or team who has deep understanding of the communities they serve and the problem they are trying to solve, expertise to develop and implement solutions, and the ability to adapt and respond to feedback, along with the necessary skills and track record to improve, expand, or replicate their solution.
- Human-Centered Design and Inclusion: The solution is designed with and for communities that the organization is active in and embodies and addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion throughout their solution.
- Scalability: The solution framework is designed to scale regionally and/or nationally to impact more small businesses and communities.
- Partnership Potential: The applicant clearly explains how the team lead and the organization would benefit from the resources that the Truist Foundation and MIT Solve are positioned to provide.
What is the Challenge Timeline?
- February 16, 2022: Challenge Opens
- May 16, 2022: [EXTENDED] Deadline for Applicants to Submit a Solution
- Week of June 13, 2022: Semi-finalists notified
- June 27th & 28th: Semifinalist virtual Q&A
- July 1, 2022: Finalists Announced
- July- September 2022: Finalist Pitch Production
- July-November 2022: Finalist Support Program
- October 20, 2022: Pitch Event for Finalists and Winner Announcement
What will I receive if my solution is selected?
Truist Foundation Inspire Awards judges will select 15 semifinalists. After semifinalists participate in an interview session with the judges, those semifinalists who don’t advance to the finalist stage will receive $10,000 each.
A cohort of seven finalists will be chosen to move to the finalist stage and participate in a capacity-building, wraparound support program (see details below). At the conclusion of the support program, the seven finalists will be invited to a pitch event to present their solutions in front of distinguished judges for the chance to win the following awards:
- $250,000 for the First Place Winner
- $150,000 for the Second Place Winner
- $75,000 for the Audience Favorite
- $25,000 for each runner up team
All finalists will participate in a 5 month tailored support program run by MIT Solve and the Truist Foundation that will include:
- A comprehensive needs assessment to determine what resources and support are most appropriate to accelerate their impact.
- Access to a network of resource partners, mentors, and coaches across industries and sectors.
- Learning and development modules aimed at refining business model, theory of change, and plans for scaling.
- Invitation to participate in Solve’s annual flagship Solve at MIT event held in May each year.
- A monitoring and evaluation track to support finalist teams in building their impact measurement practice.
- A peer-to-peer network to build a community of practice with dedicated spaces to convene throughout the duration of the support program.
- “Solveathon” workshop focused on refining the finalist solutions and pitch consultation to help finalists prepare for the event.
- Wraparound services including an invitation to a two-day Truist Leadership Institute Retreat in 2023.
Proximate Leadership: A leader who has a meaningful relationship with groups whose identity, experience, or community are systemically stereotyped, feared, dismissed, or marginalized. Proximate leaders are guided by that group’s input, ideas, agendas, and assets. For more information, read this.
Racially diverse and/or women-led small businesses: Businesses led by an individual of any race and ethnicity combination other than non-Hispanic and white and/or those who identify as women who have over 50% of the stock or equity in a business. (source)