GHR Foundation and OpenIDEO Launch Second 'BridgeBuilder Challenge' to Identify Radical Ideas Addressing Complex Global Issues

The annual $1 million open innovation Challenge seeks community-rooted approaches that design and 'build bridges' between peace, prosperity and planet

Meaningful change already resulting from 2017 BridgeBuilder Top Ideas selected from 650 ideas from social innovators in 185 countries

MINNEAPOLIS, May 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- In collaboration with open innovation platform OpenIDEO, Minneapolis-based GHR Foundation is inviting social innovators to come together to address urgent global challenges at the intersections of peace, prosperity and planet in radically new ways. The second annual BridgeBuilder Challenge is a five-month collaborative process that aims to identify promising ideas that promote meaningful engagement, greater social cohesion, and sustainable, community-led change. The top iterative ideas will each receive a share of $1 million and benefit from ongoing collaboration among the cohort and GHR's global development experts.

The first BridgeBuilder Challenge in 2017 collected more than 650 ideas from social innovators in 185 countries, all building bridges in unique, innovative ways. These were narrowed down to five Top Ideas, which convened in Rome for a design-build workshop with GHR and OpenIDEO. These wide-ranging approaches are already resulting in meaningful change, with project scopes between 12 and 36 months.

The 2017 Top Ideas include:
Ethical gold mining as a pathway to peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- Peace Direct
Tree-planting drones for restoring mangroves and livelihoods in Myanmar -- BioCarbon Engineering
Creative skills for peace among youth violent offenders in Cameroon -- Local Youth Corner Cameroon
Lifting up and empowering families on Chicago's Southside -- LIFT Chicago
Connecting displaced persons with Arabic language learners around the world - NaTakallam

"The challenges our world faces today are complex and interwoven," said Amy Goldman, chief executive officer and chair of GHR Foundation. "BridgeBuilder is teaching us a lot about how communities far and wide are designing innovative solutions, and the power of building bridges to create lasting change. Through this second Challenge as well as the work of our current cohort, we hope to continue 'bridging' between people and communities to support and unleash the promise of locally-rooted ideas and assets."

Whether working to advance peace, ensure prosperity, or protect our planet, successful BridgeBuilders design and build approaches that incorporate multiple perspectives, keeping pace with the speed at which the global community is evolving.

"The response to our inaugural BridgeBuilder Challenge was amazing," said Jason Rissman, managing director of OpenIDEO, of the 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge. "The collaborative, transparent nature of last year's Challenge inspired social innovators from nearly every country to offer insights and connections that brought value to submitted ideas, even if they weren't ultimately selected as Top Ideas. It's exciting to consider the world-changing potential of our community of BridgeBuilders in this second Challenge."

OpenIDEO Challenge Process: During the Ideas Phase, GHR and OpenIDEO will call on the global community to share ideas that address urgent challenges at the intersections of peace, prosperity and planet in radical new ways. The ideas do not need to be perfect or fully polished--GHR encourages entry early in the Ideas Phase to allow for community engagement and iteration to improve ideas. GHR will then select a shortlist of submitted ideas to move into the Beneficiary Feedback Phase. During Beneficiary Feedback, contributors will test ideas in their communities and apply feedback to their project idea.

During the Expert Feedback Phase, shortlisted ideas will have the opportunity to interact virtually with experts from various fields to gather feedback and additional insights. The last phase is the Improve Phase, during which each idea will have three weeks to apply the expert feedback to their project idea. After these phases, GHR will review the shortlist, evaluate the ideas and announce the Top Ideas--a cohort representing promising approaches that best reflect the spirit of BridgeBuilder.

Selected top ideas will:

  • Receive a share of $1 million in seed funding from GHR Foundation
  • Join a BridgeBuilder cohort of innovative organizations working to address urgent needs
  • Take part in a kick-off workshop, during which they will meet other social innovators and further design and build their approaches with tools and expertise from GHR and OpenIDEO
  • Receive ongoing partnership support from GHR, potential connection to other funder networks, and media exposure

Eligibility: Submissions are welcome from registered nonprofit, civil society, community-based and for-profit organizations working anywhere in the world. Ideas must touch on two or more of the topic areas (peace, prosperity and planet). Ideas should strive to create unique encounters between people, issues and beliefs that promote meaningful engagement, greater social cohesion and sustainable, community-led change. Ideas must center on action and tangible results in their communities of focus rather than research, convenings, policy development or advocacy. Lastly, BridgeBuilder is seeking ideas with timelines up to 36 months and budget requests of less than US$500,000.

OpenIDEO: OpenIDEO is a global open innovation platform that builds collaborative communities to address pressing social and environmental issues. In online Challenges, offline Chapters and targeted programs, OpenIDEO enables innovators anywhere to apply design thinking towards generating social impact.

GHR Foundation: GHR Foundation improves lives by working toward a just, peaceful and healthy future. Built on faith in entrepreneurial creativity, the foundation accelerates systemic change by nurturing promising new possibilities and partnerships in the areas of global development, education and health. For 50-plus years, GHR has been pioneering design-build philanthropy as it collaborates with community experts to design and build opportunities and favorable environments for change to take hold.

CONTACT: Chris Berger, 612.440.2525 or


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