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Meet our BridgeBuilder Challenge Sponsor: GHR Foundation

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At OpenIDEO, our hope is that our Challenges will be reflective of our times – and the great capability of our community. It's for this reason we chose to partner with GHR Foundation, an organization with a shared vision and ambition to help solve urgent global challenges in new ways. 

As we near the end of our first BridgeBuilder Challenge, let’s get to know GHR Foundation, our partner and sponsor in creating the BridgeBuilder Program.

The Quick Facts:

What is your organizations name?

GHR Foundation

Where is your organization located?

Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

What does your organization do? What is your mission?

GHR Foundation is pioneering design-build philanthropy to create lasting change with our partners around the world in the areas of global development, education and health. Our innovative, collaborative, fluid approach to grantmaking brings together a broad range of partners early and often to work through problems, adjust design, learn and iterate together. GHR’s mission is to improve lives by working toward a just, peaceful, healthy future.

Which populations does your organization work with?

In global development, GHR works with children living outside of families, communities engaging in interfaith dialogues and congregations of Catholic sisters. In education, we partner with urban Catholic schools working to close the achievement gap and Catholic universities. In health, we work with the medical research community to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Please describe your organization in 3 words…

Collaborative, adaptive, ambitious.

If your organization had a superhero doppelganger, which would it be?

Iron Man.


Iron Man’s powers come from his adaptability and inventiveness. When Iron Man needs to travel into space or become invisible, he innovates, changing his armor to suit his new mission. Like Iron Man, GHR continues to adapt to the modern world and its pressing challenges.

About the Open Innovation Challenge:

What is the one word that describes your feelings about the open innovation challenge?


Why is innovation and collaboration across this topic important to your organization?

The global challenges we face are evolving and becoming more complex, requiring bold new ideas. Innovation lets us adapt to the changing world and move beyond the solutions currently at our disposal. These global challenges are also becoming more interconnected—they are problems that cannot be solved in isolation. Strong, persistent collaboration is required to find and implement innovative solutions. Both collaboration and innovation are part of the central question of the BridgeBuilder Challenge: How might we work together to design and innovate for the global good?

If you could give participants in the Challenge one piece of advice, what would it be?

Stay fluid and allow ideas to adapt as you learn. Submitting your idea early allows you time to ask questions, get support from the community and fine-tune your proposal through multiple iterations. By connecting with fellow changemakers on the OpenIDEO platform, you have an opportunity to improve your idea and maximize its impact.

What are the biggest opportunity areas you see in the Challenge topic space?

Philanthropy often sees proposals that rely on more resources, while GHR believes true innovation necessitates the rethinking of approaches to stubborn problems. We see opportunities for ideas that build structures to support communities instead assuming more resources will act as a solution. In pursuit of sustainable change, we imagine locally-driven solutions that take on global significance through their ability to scale up and be replicated.

What kind of ideas or solutions are you most excited about seeing in the Challenge?

Our first BridgeBuilder Challenge called for ideas that ‘build bridges’ between the areas of peace, prosperity and planet. By connecting these issues in radical new ways, we can find multi-faceted solutions that address more complex global challenges. Whether working between municipalities and community organizations or across non-profits and businesses in a similar geography, we are looking for ideas that utilize unlikely partnerships to find new approaches.

Anything else you’d like to add or tell the community?

GHR Foundation and OpenIDEO are conducting three BridgeBuilder Challenges, each of which awards $1 million to ideas that address urgent global challenges in radically new ways. If you missed the opportunity to submit your idea to BridgeBuilder this year, we invite you to join our new Challenge next year. Until then, check out the shortlisted ideas and participate in the BridgeBuilder community—you can comment on ideas, find potential collaborators and continue to be inspired!

Join GHR Foundation, and the rest of the OpenIDEO community as we announce top ideas of the BridgeBuilder Challenge on Monday July 31st! 

Questions? Connect with GHR Foundation on Twitter @ghrfoundation or via email at


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