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“I am on my way to the UN to help MIT SOLVE with some feedback”

Managing an SDG-aligned social change pitch contest like MIT SOLVE is difficult. Just planning the endeavor is a lot of work. But there is also volunteer management, outreach and marketing, proposal shortlisting and subject matter expert review.  A program like MIT SOLVE receives close to 5000 proposals to read and review so providing meaningful, helpful, and candid feedback is a challenge even for a storied academic institution such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

One of our major goals for this year as an organization was to pilot a large round of co-review with a major grantmaker. As fans of the Unfunded List know, anyone with a grant proposal can submit to us and our committee will review it. This year, we worked with the MIT SOLVE competition to provide independent review alongside their esteemed judges and staff. In addition to reviewing the proposals submitted to SOLVE, our team traveled to the SOLVE Finals in New York City to watch all 60 finalist pitches. The day after selection, we met with with the non-selected finalists to review their feedback and counsel them on next steps. It was a great experience and we’re thankful to MIT’s incredible team. We knew they would make great partners for us due to the breadth of the competition and the institution’s long-standing and well-known commitment to innovation. We are excited about future collaborations.

This Fall, in addition to placing 4 excellent programs from the Spring review round on our official Unfunded List, we want to celebrate our partnership with MIT SOLVE by acknowledging some* of the non-selected finalists. As a reminder, these programs applied to SOLVE early in 2019 and made it through a rigorous vetting process (they have now been vetted by both MIT and Unfunded List’s evaluation committee) to became Finalists. All 60 Finalists traveled to New York in late September to pitch before SOLVE’s VIP judging panel and 32 were selected to become SOLVERs and share in the $1.5 million in funding.

Below are some of the non-selected finalists. Check out our full Unfunded List announcement here. 

CarbicreteCircular Economy
GreenToGoCircular Economy
HelloTractorCircular Economy
TopolyticsCircular Economy
MagnomerCircular Economy
Revive EcoCircular Economy
NAMAQALCommunity-Driven Solutions
DispatcherCommunity-Driven Solutions
HaqdarshakCommunity-Driven Solutions
NeedsListCommunity-Driven Solutions
7-Second Studio AppCommunity-Driven Solutions
teleStoryEarly Childhood
HuckleberryEarly Childhood
Wildflower SchoolsEarly Childhood
Myanmar Cash TransfersEarly Childhood
Kinems Learning GamesEarly Childhood
BabymigoEarly Childhood
Meraki MargdarshakEarly Childhood
InSaniratorHealthy Cities
KayalHealthy Cities
The Okoa Ambulance TrailerHealthy Cities
NeurobotsHealthy Cities
EatWellHealthy Cities
MajicoHealthy Cities
Say Something Anonymous Reporting SystemHealthy Cities

We encourage you to check out the selected finalists as well: SOLVER Spotlight

OpenGov HUB and Center for International Private Enterprise

In addition to partnering with MIT SOLVE for this round of review we are also working with OpenGov HUB and Center for International Private Enterprise to source additional resources and reviews for both the unfunded and funded from the SOLVE program. OpenGov HUB operates co-working spaces for open government and accountability focused entrepreneurs around the globe (locations in DC, NYC, Tunisia, Albania, Nigeria, with more opening soon). CIPE is affiliated with the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Chambers of Commerce as well as the international networks of Chambers of Commerce and the ANDE Network. These deep, international networks will be extremely helpful towards implementing the solutions we reviewed this round.

This additional support was made possible thanks to a collaborative grant provided by OpenGov HUB. The grant covered some additional staff time and travel that allowed us to take a deeper look at the proposals from this round. In many of the cases, we identified specific areas where CIPE or the OpenGov HUB network could be helpful. One of the SOLVERs is dealing with a regulatory issue in Sri Lanka, where CIPE has been working for years. Another, is looking to expand their program in Mexico where CIPE is quite active and OpenGov HUB founding member, Accountability Lab (Unfunded List Honoree ’15) has recently expanded.

We still have work to do to wrap up this partnership but we are already considering it a success. There are many other competitions, well networked think tanks, Universities, potential evaluators, unfunded organizations and grant makers out there and we look forward to one day working with each and every one of them to advance solutions.

At the start of 2019, we were working in a WeWork office. Our decision to leave WeWork for OpenGov HUB turned out to be one of the more prescient decisions we have made.

The Open Gov Hub is a co-working community in Washington, D.C. and a network of organizations promoting transparency, accountability, and civic engagement around the world.

The 20,000 square foot Hub is the physical home of 40 organizations promoting these open government reforms through technology, research, media, and advocacy.

Since 1983 CIPE has been working with local partners to craft business-driven solutions to social-economic problems that affect millions of people. We at CIPE believe that democracy is at its strongest when the private sector is flourishing. Working with our local partners that include business associations, chambers of commerce, think tanks, universities and advocacy organizations, CIPE is helping create the enabling environment for business to thrive. This can only happen when the core institutions of democracy are strong and transparent. CIPE currently has 118 projects on the ground in 64 countries to help build those institutions. That is our mission. That is our strength.

MIT Solve advances lasting solutions from tech entrepreneurs to address the world’s most pressing problems. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation: we find tech entrepreneurs from around the world and broker partnerships across our community to scale their innovative work—driving lasting, transformational change.

In the last two years, thanks to its partners, Solve has brokered commitments of over $12 million in funding for Solver teams and entrepreneurs.

*The MIT SOLVE competition included some very large organizations that could not reasonably be referred to as “Unfunded.” We also had some opt-outs and other issues and so this is not a complete list of non-selected finalists. 

Listen to our conversation with SOLVE Executive Director Alex Amouyel.


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