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CO-OP Announces Winning Ideas For CO-OP Think Prize 15

Thu, Jun 11, 2015

Rancho Cucamonga, California

Five ideas run the gamut from truly blue sky to down-to-earth practical as CO-OP Financial Services is unveiling the top solutions for CO-OP THINK Prize 15, co-sponsored by MasterCard and hosted on OpenIDEO.

“We had tremendously diverse ideas that ranged from the invention of a new currency to a new process for loan approval,” said Samantha Paxson, Chief Marketing Officer for CO-OP.

“With the 2015 THINK Prize we sought to inspire unique problem solving and collaboratively address the question: ‘How might we use the power of communities to financially empower those who need it most?’” said Paxson. “CO-OP worked with OpenIDEO and an expert advisory panel to assess ideas produced by people from all walks of life, sometimes comprising large, international teams, and which often included high school and college students.”

Unveiled in March, over the next three months the THINK Prize attracted close to 15,000 visitors to OpenIDEO’s collaborative platform, more than 500 active participants and nearly 2,500 on-line comments and contributions to team efforts.

A total of 26 ideas were selected for consideration in the “Refinement” phase, which extended from May 5 to June 3. The final five top ideas were selected based on how well the idea met a six-point criteria: human-centered, collaborative, community-centered, unique, showed a vision for success and implementable.

The originators of the five top ideas will each receive $2,000 from the $10,000 CO-OP THINK Prize 15: The Challenge. The winning ideas include (listed alphabetically by originator):

Community Coin.

Originator: Justin Bean, founder of 3D Printing for Humanity in San Francisco, Calif.

Idea: An online and mobile app platform for the exchange of goods and services between individuals. The idea calls for a new reputation- and service-based currency that can be created, distributed and managed in several different ways, without reliance on or validation from financial institutions.

Libraries as Financial Literacy Hubs.

Originator: Trevor Hallstein, an entrepreneur and fund manager based in Oakland, Calif.

Idea: Use libraries as a community hub to teach skills and expose community members to tools that will help them reach their financial goals. Drawing inspiration from existing programs and resources, the idea proposes a financial literacy program for the patrons of Oakland Public Library, with the goal of scaling the approach to other libraries and community spaces.

Re-Look.

Originator: Nicole Lopez-Conti, Community Outreach Manager, Patelco Credit Union, San Francisco, Calif.

Idea: Re-look turns credit union members’ declined loans into approvals. For those who have been declined for a loan, it offers borrowers a 30-, 60-, 90- or 180-day track to reapply successfully. Credit union representatives will examine the reasons for loan decline and offer advice to put members on a path to successful borrowing.  

Harnessing the Power of Volunteerism to Empower Youth and Women.

Originator: Jean-Marc Mercy, CEO/Founder, the Bridge Initiative, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Idea: Train youth volunteers in financial literacy and community development from the Bridge Initiative, a nonprofit NGO based in Kinshasa, whose mission is to promote volunteerism and social entrepreneurship as pathways to decent work. Volunteers would serve as community ambassadors to help the young – especially girls and women – gain financial knowledge.

A Grassroots Youth Campaign to Initiate Change.

Originator: Tori Adele Signorelli, a freelance designer and writer based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Idea: This idea taps into the power of young people to change the way we think and talk about money. Inspired by the Rock the Vote initiative, this grassroots campaign would engage 17 and 18 year olds through channels such as social media, a classroom kit and on-campus events.

CO-OP THINK Prize 15: The Challenge is managed by OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform created by IDEO, the global design and innovation firm. OpenIDEO (www.openideo.com) enables people everywhere to collaborate in developing innovative solutions to pressing social issues through sponsored challenges. Since 2010, OpenIDEO has hosted more than 30 challenges, convening nearly 85,000 participants from more than 180 countries.

CO-OP’s Paxson noted that the challenge isn’t over at all, but is now entering a new phase. “After today, the challenge will remain live for an ‘Impact’ phase, in which we are encouraging all individuals and teams to continue collaborating and sharing progress on their ideas,” said Paxson.

All of the ideas can be read – and contributed to today – at https://openideo.com/challenge/financial-empowerment-challenge/brief.

For more information about CO-OP Financial Services’ year-around THINK initiative, visit www.co-opthink.org.

About CO-OP Financial Services

Based in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., and founded in 1981, CO-OP Financial Services is the nation’s largest credit union service organization in terms of number of credit unions, assets and members. The company helps credit unions thrive by providing products and services that make it more convenient for members to do business with them. With a motto of “Be There. Be More,” CO-OP’s products fall into three business lines, including “Locations,” (ATM, shared branching and call center services); “Card Payments” (debit and credit processing) and “Mobile/Virtual” (mobile, online, check imaging, bill pay services). To learn more visit www.co-opfs.org.