Minnesota youth could win $1,000 for ideas that benefit their communities

A black board that says possible with chalk
How do you stick to your new goals for the year? We all have ideas, but finding a schedule that sticks can be hard.

A Minneapolis nonprofit is asking youth to share their ideas for products, services or activities that could make positive change in their communities.

A group of young people meets around a table
Social Venture Partners Minnesota's Youth Grantmaking Taskforce meets to talk about their process for choosing what to fund. The organization convened the taskforce and launched a youth innovation competition as part of an effort to empower young people to make decisions about their communities. Applications for the contest are due Dec. 30.
Courtesy of Social Venture Partners Minnesota

Social Venture Partners Minnesota, which funnels philanthropic dollars toward youth-serving organizations around the state, is organizing the contest. Executive Director Deb Salls said it’s part of an effort to better serve young people by including them in decision making.

“It’s very important to ask the people who are most proximate, the people who are closest to the issues at hand,” she said. “Why not ask youth what they feel like are the possible solutions and innovations and ideas that will really make a difference for young people and for their communities?”

This year, the organization also created a group of 13 youth to choose how to spend grant money and select an organization to receive funds.

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For the contest, young people aged 12 to 24 around the state are eligible to submit a video and written description of their idea.

A panel of community members will select up to five finalists in the YouthSparks Ideas Competition. Each will receive $1,000 to use at their discretion.

Given the twelve-year age range, submissions will be divided into two age groups, 12 to 17 and 18 to 24, Salls said. They’ll be judged on the creativity and potential impact of their ideas, the quality of their applications, and how clearly they explain why the issue they are trying to address is important to them.

Salls said they won’t be expected to bring their ideas to fruition, but they may have the chance to meet investors or others who could help.

For those unsure of where to start, Salls recommended looking around their neighborhood, school or local park for what isn’t working or is being ignored.

Applications have been open for about a month, but there’s still time to apply before the Dec. 30 deadline.

“We really encourage young people to give it a try and just share your idea,” Salls said. “It might spark other ideas with young people and in our community.”

Finalists will be announced during the nonprofit’s annual celebration on Jan. 22.