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Financial Empowerment Challenge: Time To Refine

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We’re in the home stretch! 

As many of you will remember, we started our Financial Empowerment Challenge with a Research phase that generated 272 human-centered contributions from the OpenIDEO community. Each of these bits of inspiration deepened our understanding of the issues, ignited conversation across the platform, and highlighted intriguing areas for innovation around financial capability – like how we might harness unique social networks, reimagine existing community spaces and hubs, and think of new ways of circumventing existing systems to give people everywhere more control over their financial futures.

We used these six opportunity areas to inspire us as we shared and developed new solutions to our challenge question, and over the course of the four-week Ideas phase, the community generated 152 creative ideas that have definitely gotten us talking – and gotten the OpenIDEO community talking, too! You’ve shared thousands of thoughtful comments, ensuring that ideas benefit from smart questions and diverse perspectives. In fact, over 13,000 people have visited this challenge from 118 countries and territories!

Deciding which ideas would move into the Refinement phase was therefore no easy task. OpenIDEO uses the Refinement phase as an opportunity to make ideas real – to create prototypes, to test those prototypes on real end users, and to learn and iterate based on that feedback. And we need the dedicated energy of the whole OpenIDEO community to do that! That’s why we choose to focus on just 25 ideas for this final phase. Because let’s face it – making ideas real is a lot of work.

We don’t take this process lightly. For starters, we have a clearly-defined set of evaluation criteria. With this criteria in mind:

  • We read every idea and every comment in every thread (multiple times!);
  • Our Community Champions shared their thoughts on ideas they thought were most exciting;
  • The challenge Advisory Panel – comprised of financial experts from organizations like the Rockefeller Foundation, Clinton Global Initiative, MasterCard, MoneyThink and RSF Finance – was given a number of ideas to read and evaluate;
  • We ran an intensive workshop with challenge sponsor CO-OP Financial Services to dive deeper into some of these ideas, decide which ideas best fit with our criteria and goals for the challenge, and formulate some feedback for them to use in the Refinement phase – which sometimes involved exploring some potential mashups of two or more ideas!


We spent countless hours discussing all of your ideas, and we finally picked 25 ideas for the community to focus on in the Refinement phase – although we hope that everyone working on an idea will continue to do so. Of these 25, a few will be eligible to win some or all of the $10,000 THINK Prize from CO-OP, although there are always other pathways toward impact after a challenge that don’t involve funding, too. Remember, OpenIDEO challenges never really end! This will continue to be a safe, open, collaborative space for you to connect and help each other out. And we’re glad to see this spirit alive and well in the Financial Empowerment Challenge. 

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Financial Empowerment Challenge

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Photo of Han Jenny

I was so thinking!
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