The UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge engages the community in producing innovative solutions to meet the critical needs of our region’s nonprofits and people. In its second year, UpPrize is the most significantly capitalized social innovation competition focused on improving the quality of life for residents in Southwestern PA. The challenge is organized by The Forbes Funds in collaboration with BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Bridgeway Capital, Comcast Business, UPMC and NEXTpittsburgh. After this cycle, approximately $1 million will have been invested in sustainable solutions proposed by local entrepreneurs and nonprofits.
During the final two weeks of this cycle, we are publishing short spotlight interviews with each of the finalist teams. Our next spotlight features Community Data Roundtable (CDR). Interview responses provided by Dr. Dan Warner, CDR's Executive Director.
Why did you apply to UpPrize?
[We applied for] the opportunity to get guidance in moving our organization to the next level.
How did you develop your idea? How will it impact the lives of vulnerable populations in Western PA?
CDR was developed through my own personal work as a psychologist evaluator in the Pennsylvania mental health system. I saw the need for better data and communication at multiple levels: for clinicians, for the system, and for children and families. I started reaching out to various stakeholders and saying: we can do better! Let's get a system started so that children are evaluated more efficiently, referred more exactly, and then we can track their outcomes over time. Luckily I found enough people who agreed! CDR helps people with serious mental illness in Western PA by providing the tools providers and the system needs to provide optimal care.
What have you learned about yourself or your team as a result of the process?
The UpPrize has helped us refine, and refine, and refine what we're really doing. The various activities involved require constant re-evaluation of our message and strategy, and help us hone it. This is not just about getting our message out in a snazy way. [It] is about really identifying what it is exactly that we do, and the value we bring.
What advice do you have for anyone considering applying to UpPrize?
I think people applying to the UpPrize need to come in as we did: ready to work. This is not just about getting some money. This is about getting the opportunity to push yourself, and your organization, to refine your vision in order to become a more serious, and powerful force.
Where can people learn more about your idea?
Visit us online!
Anything you'd like to add?
I am truly grateful for the UpPrize. I feel I got a crash course business administration degree, and had a blast doing it. Even without becoming a Finalist, the experiences I obtained here will stay with me forever, and will impact most future professional work I plan on doing.