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Social Impact Exchange Announces Biz Plan Competition Winners

July 09, 2010

Socinnovation_wordcloud Back in October, I blogged about the launch of the Social Impact Exchange -- a community of funders, practitioners, researchers, wealth managers, and others interested in developing practicies for studying, funding and implementing large-scale expansions of top-performing nonprofits.

A few weeks ago, at its Inaugural Conference on Scaling, SIE announced the winners of its 2009-10 Business Plan Competition. The two awardees, the Parent-Child Home Program and Rubicon National Social Innovations, entered the competition last fall along with nearly two hundred other nonprofits and went through several rounds of evaluation prior to being selected from among eight finalists.

The Parent-Child Home Program "utilizes intensive home visiting to engage families isolated by poverty, limited literacy, lack of transportation, and language and cultrural barriers in an evidence-based scool readiness, early literacy, and parenting education program." Rubicon (not to be confused with Rubicon Programs, a fine human services agency in the Bay Area) is best known for its Emerge Workplace Loan and Financial Stability Program, which works to replace predatory payday lending with an online lending and financial education platform. The two organizations will receive up to $125,000 each in cash and consulting services from Public/Private Ventures, and the Whelan Group.

The competition, which was modeled after a series of nonprofit business plan competitions sponsored by the Yale School of Management and the Goldman Sachs Foundation earlier in the decade (SIE vice president and director Cynthia Massarsky was a driving force behind the Yale-Goldman Sachs effort), is a fine first step for the Social Impact Exchange as it works to share knowledge, facilitate increased financing, and develop infrastructure that helps others scale successful social innovations. 

I'll be curious, however, to see what kind of followup and lesson-sharing Cynthia and her colleagues have up their sleeves. And I'm especially curious about the kinds of questions they'll be asking to determine whether business plan competitions for nonprofits are themselves an example of successful -- and scalable -- social innovation.

In the meantime, congrats to the winners and the other six finalists (worthy organizations all).

-- Mitch Nauffts

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