Ideas Challenge sparks innovative thinking for civic engagement
By Mindy Kao, program associate, community intelligence, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
How would you use $10,000 to improve community engagement around the 2017 local elections? Earlier this year, the 2017 Ideas Challenge posed this question to citizens of the metro Atlanta region. Hosted in partnership by the Center for Civic Innovation (CCI) and the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta, the competition received over 100 unique responses from passionate and creative residents all over the region, with ideas ranging from mayoral candidate speed dating to a teen-led documentary about voting. Though the responses were diverse, one thing was clear: Atlantans are ready to shake up how the city does civic engagement.
Since receiving the submissions for the 2017 Ideas Challenge, CCI and Community Foundation staff and volunteers have worked to narrow the ideas down to five finalists. Earlier this month, CCI hosted the Atlanta Civic Summit, where 10 semi-finalists pitched their ideas to a panel of local celebrity judges who selected the five ideas with which they were the most impressed:
- Monica Campana proposed Signs of Solidarity ATL – Voter Edition, a public art project featuring the creation and display of 60 banners that each represent an individual artist and his/her message encouraging people to vote.
- Jenn Graham proposed Voter Education Texts, a text-based technology to communicate with potential voters and keep them informed of critical voter information.
- Phi Nguyen proposed Young Voter Videos, a series of fun videos aimed to teach millennial voters of underrepresented communities about civic engagement topics, such as who is running for office and why local voting matters.
- Rhonda Patrick proposed Get Out the Vote Truck, an interactive truck that travels to various local festivals and events to inform citizens of past and present mayoral elections and inspire them to get engaged.
- Nse Ufot proposed Civic Bootcamp, a civic engagement bootcamp to demystify the political process and learn best practices and actionable ways to engage government in order to improve their local communities.
Each of these finalists will receive a $500 prize for their ideas, but the work doesn’t stop there. Over the next few weeks, finalists will work with CCI to hone their ideas and they will be partnered with a nonprofit organization to help them execute their plans. Finalists will prepare funding proposals to be reviewed by a committee of CCI and CFGA staff and community members who will then decide which ideas and their corresponding nonprofit partner will receive implementation grant amounts of $10,000, $5,000, $1,500 and two $500 awards to bring their idea to fruition.