This innovate program (I was among the judges selecting the 20 finalists) is also a very interesting exercise in online voting. You can’t just go online and choose one winner, you need to dig in and vote for four. The “final four” receive an extra $25,000 on top of the $10,000 received by the final 20.
Like the Knight News Challenge, I appreciated the MIYO approach to making it extremely easy for people to submit ideas. I was also a first round judge and used their Drupal-based review system to read submissions and offer ratings. Like Ashoka’s Changemakers Competitions, an online vote determines top winners after a deliberative process that involves judges. I hope both these ideas become new mega-trends in philanthropy. Elaine Gast’s article on the main Case Foundation site titled, Keeping It Real: Case’s Approach to Online Voting might also be of interest.
Below is the list of the top 20 MIYO award finalists – congrats! Help spread the word and be sure to vote.
Keith Herring – Syracuse, NY
The Southside Community of Syracuse is an area suffering from poverty, drugs, educational failure, child neglect/abuse, and crime. The United Neighbors Common Council will comprise a cross-section of this diverse community and engage its members in collective decision-making and problem-solving. The council will involve all segments of the community through a three-pronged strategy â€“ communication via multiple formats, consultation with advisory committees, and community outreach efforts.
Wilson For The Ages
David Criswell – Wilson, KS
In Wilson â€“ population 800 â€“ student enrollments are declining, more than one-third of the commercial downtown buildings are vacant, and the single largest age group is â€œover 65.â€ To bring the community together and ensure that everyoneâ€™s voice is heard, Wilson for the Ages will hold town hall meetings to solicit public input; develop a questionnaire distributed by mail, by hand, and online; and make personal contact to spread the word. As input is gathered, key issues will be identified and action plans coordinated.
Child/Youth Friendly City
Nancy Gilder – Denver, CO
A broad-based effort to establish Denver as the leading Child/Youth Friendly City (CYFC) in the nation, CYFC has grown from having three partners to having more than 100. The project is now focused on gathering 10,000 voices from people of every race, religion, age, gender, and sexual orientation and facilitating 100 conversations about what makes or would make Denver child/youth friendly. A CYFC youth leadership team will take this information and engage citizens in taking action on a shared vision for the city.
Keith Twitchell – New Orleans, LA
After Hurricane Katrina, the people of New Orleans came together in unprecedented ways and, in the process, became aware of their power as citizens. Citizen Participationâ€™s goal is to create a mechanism that builds on that community spirit and enables people to make decisions at the neighborhood level about how to rebuild the city. The program will make special effort to reach out to poor and displaced citizens. The ultimate goal is to present a citizen-designed plan for formal, permanent citizen participation for passage by the New Orleans City Council.
Kate McPherson – Vancouver, WA
Vancouver/ Clark County is rapidly growing into a collage of cul-de-sacs and strip malls. Residents, especially youth, lack a sense of community belonging. Community Conversations is designed to support high school students as they develop Civic Action Projects by enabling them to talk with youth and adults who can help them shape projects that are personally meaningful and valued by the community. Student facilitators will use the Conversation CafÃ© process to foster respectful and generative intergenerational discussions.
Community Vision Project
Imre Kepes – Pelham, MA
Holyoke, MA, is a diverse, post-industrial city with great potential and also many challenges such as crime, teen pregnancy, school dropout, and other issues. The Community Vision Project will develop a team of youth leaders to inspire others and gather input from a cross-section of residents to develop ideas to make their community a better place. Together they will create a Community Vision Map that will graphically express these ideas and help to inform and mobilize the community. A support network will help turn these ideas into action.
Conversations for Change
Lisa Harper – New York, NY
As an offshoot of the South Bronx Coalition Against Violence, Conversations for Change will plan and implement dialog between the police and communities in the South Bronx â€“ the nationâ€™s poorest congressional district and an area plagued by increasing crime and underserved schools. Over the next year, the Coalition looks to build partnership for these conversations, train dialog facilitators, launch area â€œconversation circles,â€ and follow up to ensure that action steps are implemented.
Nan Kari – St. Paul, MN
Through Crossing Borders, an intergenerational group of Somali, Mexican, Peruvian, Hmong, Korean, and U.S. born people will explore how to bring more diverse people into public work and strengthen democratic practices â€“ both at the Jane Addams School for Democracy (JAS) in St. Paul, as well as in towns throughout Minnesota. Among the initiativeâ€™s goals are bimonthly team discussions, cross-cultural multimedia projects, and training for others on democratic education and outreach.
Bridget Murphy – Menomonie, WI
In its first year, DCCV has already taken action toward creating a shared vision for the rural west central Wisconsin community of Dunn County. In May, groups representing different community areas sent representatives to investigate possible futures for the county. This past summer, DCCV reached out to citizens to engage in dialogue about their hopes and ideas for the future. In the fall, citizen task forces were recruited to accomplish specific goals and make public policy recommendations.
Mark Shoul – Royalston, MA
For five years, community leaders in rural North Central Massachusetts have been working to build trust among the regionâ€™s diverse group of residents through community projects such as mentoring troubled youth and holding an interfaith Thanksgiving service. The network of community groups in North Quabbin needs support to continue organizing two annual public conversations â€“ one that identifies a shared community concern and another that determines an action plan.
Five Two Eight O
Janna Goodwin – Denver, CO
The goal of Five Two Eight O is to conduct storytelling events in diverse areas of Denver to reveal community concerns and provide opportunities for action. In the neighborhood phase, individuals will share personal stories onstage, followed by group dialog. Artists, performers, and community members will re-create these narratives culminating in a citywide theatrical event at a large, central venue. Written reports as well as in-person and online dialog discussion will lead to action plans.
Front Porch Forum
Michael Wood-Lewis – Burlington, VT
Front Porch Forum (FPF) hosts a network of online neighborhood forums that blankets an entire metro area. More than 30% of its pilot city, Burlington, VT, takes an active part, connecting with neighbors, building community and partaking in grassroots democracy. This consistently gives rise to face-to-face conversation and community action, leading to safer neighborhoods, citizen campaigns and direct input into local decision-making. FPF seeks support to increase participation, expand into one other community and develop a replicable model.
In Search of the Commons
Jim Barrett – Livingston, MT
For over 100 years, Park County, Montana, located on the northern edge of Yellowstone National Park, has been at the center of conflicts pitting the demands of development against the profound national conservation values of this region. In Search of the Commons aims to heal these divisions by reaching out to our entire community. Through neighborhood meetings, a web-based community forum, and interviews that place a special emphasis on connecting young people with adult leaders, we will assure our future is a reflection of our shared ideals.
Juveniles 4 Justice (J4J)
Jessica Feierman – Philadelphia, PA
Juveniles 4 Justice (J4J) is designed to bring together youth returning to Philadelphia from juvenile justice placements to collaborate in creating a positive vision for their communities. J4J will recruit a diverse group of incarcerated youth from local community settings. These young people will communicate with others incarcerated throughout the city and state and then meet with local nonprofits, youth-serving agencies, lawmakers, and media to discuss their visions and plans for change.
Leaders of the New School
Asad Jafri – Chicago, IL
The south side of Chicago suffers from poverty, a lack of resources, and gang activity. Leaders of the New School wants to directly involve those most affected by these issues â€“ area youth aged 13-19 â€“ in an urban arts project designed to create and inspire social change. Diverse participants from various ethnic/racial and religious backgrounds will meet once a week to discuss and address community issues through art. Following a period of instruction and training, the youth will begin work on a multidisciplinary Hip-Hop performance.
Natalia Thompson – Madison, WI
Madison SOS (Speak out, Sister!) will unite teen girls throughout Madison to identify and act on the community issues that most matter to them. Teens will develop leadership skills as they organize and implement initiatives addressing a variety of local issues – by creating an online forum for youth to connect on these issues, conducting a series of peer listening sessions, painting a visionary community mural, writing a report for community stakeholders, and leading grassroots, multigenerational action to advance their priority issues.
Making Health Our Own
Susan Sloan – Bellingham, WA
From students to seniors, from newly arrived immigrants to descendants of county pioneers, from the homeless to corporate CEOs, members of this Pacific Northwest community will work together to create a comprehensive community health plan. Through a three-step approach, Making Health Our Own will identify health issues of shared concern, prioritize these issues, and then come together to establish goals, create policies, and formulate action plans.
My School is Your School
Dominick Maldonado – New Haven, CT
Last year, a diverse group of individuals, parents, students, and community agencies joined together to establish a â€œconstituency engagement teamâ€ concerned with the education of children attending public school in impoverished New Haven. After identifying the disconnection felt between parents, community members, and teachers, the team has decided to launch an effort to strengthen these relationships through community deliberation and action.
Summit for Environmental Action
Kate Irwin – Sarasota, FL
In Sarasota County, citizens, local government and organizations jointly host the Summit for Environmental Action. The goal of the day is to reach consensus on a few community issues to move forward on with action. Organizers have reached out to municipal, business, neighborhood, education and faith-based groups to ensure a balance of participants. That day, participants will develop collective and individual action plans. Afterward, attendees will bring the plans to their networks to serve as leaders of and organizers for environmental action.
Re-Imagining our City
Fiona Cheong – Pittsburgh, PA
To help revitalize Pittsburgh’s historic Hill District, an area now often stigmatized by negative media reports, Re-Imagining Our City will involve a diverse group of local teenagers as full partners in exploring how to design a new urban green space. A core council of area teens will recruit participants from schools, youth groups and parent groups for public conversations designed to empower young people, involve them in city planning that will re-shape their city, and support them in educating and involving the larger community.