MN Nonprofit in Running for $50K Innovation Prize

Twin Cities Rise! is one of 15 semifinalists selected from a pool of roughly 900 entries. It's recognized for its pay-for-performance model, through which the organization receives funding in exchange for meeting benchmarks and tracking participant success.

Minneapolis-based nonprofit Twin Cities Rise! (TCR), is in the running for a $50,000 prize in an international competition involving economic innovation initiatives.

TCR, which trains under-employed and unemployed people for placement in long-term jobs where they earn at least $20,000 a year, was chosen as one of 15 semifinalists, picked from a pool of roughly 900 entries from 83 countries. TCR is the only Minnesota semifinalist-and one of only three from the United States.

The competition, called “Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works,” is put on by the eBay Foundation and Ashoka's Changemakers, which aims to connect social entrepreneurs from around the world. The online competition seeks “the world's most innovative market-based solutions that create economic opportunity and generate employment for disadvantaged populations.”

Votes can be cast online here until August 10. The top 10 projects will move on to compete for five prizes of $50,000 each; the five overall winners will be selected by a panel of international judges and will be announced on September 14.

TCR said in a news release that its model demonstrates how pay-for-performance (PFP) and other outcome-based funding mechanisms can benefit both nonprofits and those providing the funding. It was founded in 1994 by Steve Rothschild, a former senior executive at General Mills. It trains participants in writing, speaking, math, computers, and test support, and it has a PFP contract with the State of Minnesota, through which it receives funding in exchange for meeting benchmarks and tracking participant success.

“Twin Cities Rise! is deeply honored to be recognized as a semi-finalist by Ashoka Changemakers,” TCR President and CEO Art Berman said in a statement. “Steve Rothschild is a true social enterprise pioneer, and the innovations he has led at Twin Cities Rise! by building a highly effective anti-poverty program and implementing creative pay-for-performance models is helping us to transform lives in our community.”