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Engaging Next Generation Innovators in America’s Cities

Joshua Murphy — Former Associate Director

Future Cities InnovatorsMillennials are the largest generation in America, and—according to a recent Pew Research Center study—they are also the most diverse and educated. This is a generation that strives to make the world a better place through their tenacious curiosity and willingness to take on risks that create sustainable social change. The challenges our nation and planet face are great—from poverty to failing infrastructure to tears in our social fabric to climate change to ensuring everyone has the opportunity to participate in our economy. Solutions to these challenges require innovation. Institutions must do more to engage next generation innovators to harness their creativity and work collaboratively to build cities that provide greater opportunity in the good times and are better protected in the bad.

“Philanthropy has the ability and privilege to take risks in a variety of problem spaces—so why shouldn’t we also embrace that risk-taking ability in how we engage and fund next generation problem solvers?”

Today, The Rockefeller Foundation, in partnership with Unreasonable Institute, is taking a step forward in that direction by announcing the first Future Cities Accelerator.

The Future Cities Accelerator is a challenge that will provide up to $1,000,000 in grant funding split among 10 early-stage start-up organizations working in America’s cities to solve complex physical, social, and economic challenges facing poor or vulnerable populations to help them scale their impact. We are looking for non-and for-profit organizations led by entrepreneurs, activists, designers, and engineers over the age of 18—who are on the ground, working to develop real solutions to our nation’s most pressing challenges.

According to the U.S. Census, 63 percent of Americans now reside in cities. And, as cities continue to grow, we have seen them become incubators for positive and sustainable social innovation—where local governments, community organizations, and entrepreneurs are working together every day to solve a myriad of problems. As we seek to empower and support the next generation of change-makers, this accelerator will fund their real-world solutions that create positive social impact.

“We cannot simply wag our fingers at millennials, asking them to stand for something, to rise up and to make a difference—we must put real support behind their efforts.”

Sustaining these efforts means that, in addition to funding, we will provide these organizations with nine months of intensive support, including online training in rapid prototyping from Tom Chi, former UX Lead at Google X; help to develop an 18-month action plan; a mentor team of long-term advisors; executive and fundraising coaching; 20 pro-bono hours of financial modeling support; and paid admission to SOCAP, a gathering of thousands of impact investors and entrepreneurs.

This accelerator is a step toward creating measurable change in our cities, driven by the powerful upcoming generation of innovators. Join us, and let’s get to work to make our cities better than ever before!

Please click here to learn more!

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