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A nonprofit has won a $100,000 cash prize to further its cause to greater heights.

The nonprofit organization iDE won the inaugural Barry and Marie Lipman Family Prize, the Lipman Prize Committee announced last Thursday.

The Barry and Marie Lipman Family Prize is an annual global prize to celebrate innovation in the social sector.

It is awarded through a rigorous process including extensive research on each of the finalist organizations through on-site visits. Penn students were involved due to the academic nature of researching the organizations’ social impact.

iDE, a 350-member organization, is focused on helping poor and rural areas through a variety of initiatives.

All three finalist organizations — including runner-ups KOMAZA and Medshare — will obtain the benefit of collaborating with Penn’s faculty to further improve their organizations’ efforts.

In addition to the prize announcement, the Lipman Prize Committee also hosted an “un-conference” Friday at The Hub Cityview, a meeting space near Chestnut and 17th streets.

Unlike a typical conference structure, an un-conference emphasizes participant discussion and idea-generation activities. Representatives from nonprofit organizations, students and faculty from Penn attended the event.

“The typical structure around a conference is one-way communication,” said second-year Social Policy & Practice graduate student Jess Simmons, coordinator of the Student Selection Committee. “We wanted to have a day centered about the formation of a collective knowledge base through organizations solving problems as well as creating opportunities for other organizations to learn from them.”

Participants discussed a specific challenge facing each of the finalist organizations in three separate breakout sessions.

Urban studies professor Andrew Lamas facilitated iDE’s breakout session. iDE CEO Al Doerksen and iDE Cambodia Country Director Michael Roberts participated in the session as well, explaining the challenge facing iDE’s expansion.

Doerksen dubbed the challenge as the “last mile distribution.” The biggest challenge is not designing a great product or service to poor households, but delivering it to the ones who need it most, in “remote areas over crumbling infrastructure.”

Doerksen said the reaction upon the announcement that they won was like “350 people having an adrenaline rush.”

“It’s more than the money — it’s an affirmation of our efforts and the huge infusion of inspiration that the prize generates in people,” Doerksen said.

Among other initiatives, iDE is looking forward to deepening their current reach with a sanitation project providing latrine systems in Cambodia with the prize money.

“Our best asset is the students and experienced faculty, which is unlike a lot of other prizes,” Lipman Family Prize Director Umi Howard said.

1970 Wharton graduate Barry Lipman, the prize sponsor, said he was happy with the outcome of the prize this year. “I hope that Penn gains partnerships with organizations that will hopefully work to the benefit for them,” Lipman said.

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