May 16, 2012

X Prize Will Seek Solutions to Poverty

Competitions to spur scientific and technology developments have grown in popularity in recent years, but social causes have yet to get so much attention until now.

The Robin Hood Foundation  and the X Prize Foundation this week announced a new competition designed to find the best solutions available to fighting poverty.

Robin Hood has raised $19-million to get the competition off the ground and plans soon to announce the specific goal of the first contest, which might focus on curbing homelessness or improving education or other issues that contribute to poverty.

[Editor's note: The following paragraph has been revised for accuracy.] The goal is to reward new ideas and programs that Robin Hood will test in New York. After a new program has been running for a certain amount of time, a review committee of officials from both foundations will evaluate it and award the prize if the program is deemed successful.

Awards of at least $1-million will be handed out, but more might be awarded for ambitious efforts.

"Robin Hood has been fighting poverty day by day, block by block, for 24 years, and in that 24 years we have discovered some extraordinary interventions that we think have vastly improved the way in which services are delivered and have increased the likelihood that poor people are going to be able to lift themselves out of poverty," said David Saltzman, executive director of the Robin Hood Foundation.  With the prize, "we want to find a way of attracting the best thinking from all around world."

Watch a Chronicle of Philanthropy video on how the X Prize Foundation creates its contests.