Wharton helps Philadelphia win $1 million

Phila.'s winning proposal to the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge to aid social entrepreneurs

· March 15, 2013, 12:47 am

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Philadelphia is getting $1 million — and Wharton students and faculty helped to make it happen.

On Thursday morning, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced their five winners for the Bloomberg Mayors Challenge, which is a competition that provides funding to help improve city life. The Wharton Social Impact Initiative, along with several other Philadelphia organizations, helped the city of Philadelphia to create a winning proposal designed to spark innovation and help solve the city’s problems.

The challenge invited cities with populations of over 30,000 to participate, with 305 cities representing 45 states submitting applications. Five winners were selected — Philadelphia, Chicago, Houston and Santa Monica each won $1 million, while Providence won the grand prize of $5 million.

“Too often, great ideas don’t get the support — or the funding — they need,” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a press release. “The Mayors Challenge helps eliminate those obstacles by elevating and funding the most promising and innovative ideas.”

The winning proposal, the Philadelphia Social Enterprise Partnership, includes a step-by-step process that aims to “help social entrepreneurs to help with urban problems in Philadelphia,” Senior Director of Wharton Social Impact Initiative Jacob Gray said.

The plan allows the Wharton Social Impact Initiative to be in charge of analyzing the framing of problems that are presented by a government committee created by the mayor. This is in an effort to ultimately connect social entrepreneurs with government offices so that they can innovate together to solve the city’s problems — including anything from poverty to sustainability to education.

Mayor Nutter’s office approached the Wharton Social Impact Initiative to help review their proposal last summer, according to Gray.

The next step for Wharton Social Impact Initiative is to work on implementing the plan and spreading the word, Gray said — starting with a campus event open to all Penn students on April 12 to get more students involved.

“I think this is something that students throughout Penn will value,” Wharton junior and Wharton Social Impact Initiative intern Celia Lewis said.

Lewis, along with several other undergraduates and graduate students, were also a part of the project.

“There’s a lot of potential for really incredible and powerful things that can come out of this,” Lewis said. “We are … using the momentum and really pushing the project forward.”

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