DEADLINE EXTENDED to August 11th, 2023 byt 11:59 AM.
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. Organizations at the Growth Stage should have a proven track record with an annual operating budget - see Organization vs. Tech Solution for more information.
The organization’s technology-based solution is at least at the Prototype Stage of Development: A solution that is building and testing its product, service, or business model - see Organization vs. Tech 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 Advisory Council Members 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.
If you have a relevant and innovative technology-based 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 prototyping a solution or scaling a product, we’re looking for innovators and entrepreneurs with the most promising solutions.
Selecting Solutions: Once the submission deadline passes, evaluation will begin. After an initial screening by MIT Solve staff and community reviewers, Challenge Advisory Council Members will select a group of 15 semi-finalists with the most promising solutions. The semi-finalists will participate in an interview session with Challenge Advisory Council Members who will then select a cohort of seven finalists. Finalists will be awarded funding and participate in a six-month support program. Toward the conclusion of the support program, finalists will be invited to pitch their solutions at a pitch event, where Advisory Council Members will then select the award winners. Finalists will also participate in a live-streamed in-person Awards Event to be held in April 2024 where decisions on winning solutions will be announced.
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. 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 Prototype, 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.
- Prototype: A team or organization building and testing its product, service, intervention, or business model.
- 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 the Truist Foundation Inspire Awards Challenge. 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 advisory 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 Advisory Council Members 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: The team has a proof-of-concept and a realistic, practical plan for financial sustainability and implementing the solution, and the solution is feasible in the given context.
Innovative approach: The solution includes a new technology, a new application of technology, 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?
May 5, 2023: Challenge Opens
August 11, 2023: Deadline for Applicants to Submit a Solution
October 2 - 3, 2023: Semi-finalists invited for Interview Session with Advisory Council Members
October 6, 2023: Finalists Announced
October 2023 - April 2024: Finalists Support Program
April 2024: Pitch Event for Finalists and Winner Announcement
What will I receive if my solution is selected?
Truist Foundation and the Inspire Awards Advisory Council Members will select 15 semi-finalists. After semi-finalists participate in an interview session with the Advisory Council Members and Truist Foundation, those semi-finalists who don’t advance to the finalist stage will each receive a $10,000 grant. In addition to grant funding, Truist Foundation is excited to offer all semi-finalists access to a variety of capacity-building resources, including consultants, subject matter experts, resources, and workshops where our non-profit partners will have the chance to receive insights on industry best practices and the opportunity for no-cost program support that will help reinforce and maintain the success and sustainability of their inspiring community programs.
A cohort of seven finalists will be chosen by Truist Foundation 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 Advisory Council Members and Truist Foundation for the opportunity to receive the following awards:
● $250,000 for the First Place Grant
● $150,000 for the Second Place Grant
● $25,000 for each runner-up team
Finalist Support Program
All finalists will participate in a six-month tailored support program run by MIT Solve and Truist Foundation that will include:
A comprehensive needs assessment followed by monthly check ins to connect finalists to in-kind resources and provide space for ongoing support.
Learning and development modules aimed at refining business model, theory of change, and plans for scaling.
A peer-to-peer network to build a community of practice with dedicated spaces to convene throughout the duration of the support program.
Workshops focused on refining the finalist solutions and pitch consultation to help prepare for the Inspire Awards event.
Wraparound services including an invitation to a two-day Truist Leadership Institute Retreat. More information about the Retreat can be found below.
Truist Leadership Institute: Discovering Conscious Leadership Retreat
Finalists will have free access to the Discovering Conscious Leadership Retreat, an immersive leadership development experience intentionally designed to address the unique demands you face at your level in the organization and strengthen your potential to grow and succeed beyond this role. This dynamic, blended learning experience consists of self-paced assignments as well as a live online session and on-campus programming at Truist Leadership Institute at The Kelly S. King Center. This is a required component of the Support Program and teams who advance to the Finalist stage must plan to be available for the following dates:
- Live Online Session – November 6th, 2023. 9:00am-12:00pm ET
- On Campus Session – November 13th – 14th, 2023
- Day 1: 8:30am-5:00pm
- Day 2: 8:30am-5:00pm