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 Knead Community Cafe. Interview responses provided by Kevin Bode, Co-Founder of Knead.
Why did you apply to UpPrize?
When we found out about this competition, we got excited that it totally aligned with our nonprofit cafe's mission to provide healthy food to the community regardless of one's means.
How did you develop your idea? How will it impact the lives of vulnerable populations in Western PA?
We researched for two years learning about the Pay-What-You-Can cafe model and joined a national network called One World Everybody Eats. We feel that our café will play a large role in the community by offering the option of eating meals that are wholesome, nutritional, and delicious. [This is especially relevant in] an area where access to healthy food is difficult for some due to financial circumstances and ability to access fresh food. The cafe also provides a setting where all are treated with love and dignity in which we aspire to build positive relationships within the community.
What have you learned about yourself or your team as a result of the process?
[We learned] you are as strong as the support you receive. If you believe in your cause, diligently work at developing your business plan, and effectively communicate your mission, others will join in supporting your ideas and helping you to achieve your goals.
What advice do you have for anyone considering applying to UpPrize?
Just pursue and go for it! Be prepared, be open and enjoy learning about [yourself], your organization, and the process of the UpPrize competition.
Where can people learn more about your idea?
Visit us online!
Anything you'd like to add?
This has been a very rewarding experience. How grateful we are to be a part of this wonderful partnership with the UpPrize team. It has been a positive and uplifting experience and we definitely encourage others to pursue their dream!