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Putting Citizens First: Apply to MIT Solve’s Community-Driven Innovation Challenge

Citizen trust in government, business, and other institutions is eroding around the world. In fact, more than half of global respondents in this year’s Edelman Trust Barometer report distrusting their government, and four in five believe the system is failing them.

Why do so many ordinary people feel left behind by their institutions and excluded from decision-making processes?

For one, while recent advances in digital technology and innovation have expanded access to services such as finance and education, the most marginalized communities continue to lack connectivity and remain underserved. 

Meanwhile, though more countries have become democratic in recent decades, freedoms of expression, privacy, and assembly are increasingly threatened by public and private sector institutions alike. And while the global poverty rate is at an all-time low, the distribution of wealth is highly uneven as the richest capture an unprecedented share.

Introducing the Community-Driven Innovation Challenge

That’s why Solve launched the Community-Driven Innovation Challenge, which asks: how can citizens and communities create and improve social inclusion and shared prosperity? We are searching for solutions that enable people to shape the decisions that impact their lives, access the services they need, and hold those in power more accountable.

In September 2019, the most promising Community-Driven Innovation applicants will pitch their solutions at Solve Challenge Finals in New York City. Our judges will select eight solutions as Solver teams, and each team will receive a $10,000 grant from Solve, with the opportunity for additional prize funding from our partners.

Most importantly, these Solver teams will receive focused support and make connections from across the Solve and MIT communities to help them build the partnerships they need to scale the impact of their work.

Does this pique your interest? Submit your solution today to Solve’s Community-Driven Innovation Challenge for a chance to join the next cohort of Solver teams! Solve is looking for tech-based solutions that address the following four Challenge dimensions:

1. Local Solutions for Critical Services

Strong and prosperous communities are built upon citizens who are empowered to shape their social, economic, and political future. Citizens and communities should be at the forefront of identifying civic problems and building effective solutions to address them, with technology as a key lever to help them. 

It’s critical we find solutions that enable communities to meaningfully participate in designing and determining solutions around crucial local services such as housing, transportation, and public safety.

2. Making Institutions Accountable

In modern society, we entrust important aspects of our everyday lives to institutions that are designed to serve us, from government and business to media and nongovernmental organizations. We trust that these actors will be responsible, responsive, and act with our best interests in mind. Yet, too often they fail to engage citizens in real consultation and co-creation of services.

To this end, we need civic tech and other innovative solutions that enable citizens and communities to make government, corporations, and others in power more accountable, transparent, and responsive to citizen feedback.

3. Equitable and Inclusive Economic Growth

Technological change and globalization are helping to lift people out of poverty and expand the middle class globally. Yet, too often they favor those in power and further marginalize low-income and underserved communities, contributing to growing income inequality across regions and within countries. Today, the world’s richest 1 percent own nearly half of all global wealth.

As such, we seek innovative solutions that drive equitable and inclusive economic growth across geographies and demographics—preventing displacement and under investment in underserved communities, and promoting affordability, diversity, and shared prosperity.  

4. Civic Participation and Inclusion

The mobile phone, the internet, digital technologies, and innovations have created unprecedented opportunities for citizens to engage in community action and democratic processes. Yet, for the most marginalized who lack connectivity, these technologies can further exclude them from public conversation and decision-making processes. 

This Challenge seeks solutions that ensure all citizens can overcome barriers to civic participation and inclusion, such as expanding access to information, internet, digital literacy, and services.

Are you working on an innovation that addresses one of these four dimensions? Submit your solution to the Community Driven Innovation Challenge today! The deadline to apply is July 1.

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