Twin Cities Rise! Wins $50K Innovation Award

The local nonprofit, which trains under-employed and unemployed people for placement in long-term jobs, was chosen from a pool of about 900 entries as one of five winners in the "Powering Economic Opportunity: Create a World that Works" competition.

Minneapolis-based nonprofit Twin Cities Rise! (TCR) on Wednesday was named one of five winners in an international competition involving economic innovation initiatives-and it will receive a $50,000 prize.

TCR, which trains under-employed and unemployed people for placement in long-term jobs that pay at least $20,000 a year, was previously chosen as one of 15 semifinalists.

TCR was the only semifinalist from Minnesota-and one of only three from the United States. It was picked from a pool of about 900 entries from 83 countries.

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.

Twin Cities Rise! was recognized for its pay-for-performance model, through which the organization receives funding in exchange for meeting benchmarks and tracking participant success.

“We're very excited to be honored by Ashoka and pleased to be the only recipient from the United States,” TCR spokeswoman Amy Anderson told Twin Cities Business on Wednesday. “It's great honor for a Minnesota organization.”

Anderson said TCR intends to use the prize money to further its existing pay-for-performance model and is in discussions about how to bring the funding model to other nonprofits in Minnesota and throughout the country.

“I am inspired to see the breadth of innovative solutions that are creating economic opportunity for the world's most vulnerable,” Ashoka President Diana Wells said in a statement. “We are delighted to have received a record_breaking number of entries and truly honored to be able to support the pattern-changing work being done by the winning innovators.”

Learn more about each of the other four winners through the following links:

 Fundacion Paraguaya, for its “financially self-sufficient school model”

 Grameen Foundation, for its “mobile microfinancing in Indonesia” concept

Nuru Energy, for its “rural energy entrepreneurship in India and East Africa” program

Solidarium, for its “fair trade-Brazil” initiative

Twin Cities Rise! 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 certain goals.