The Story

We at Minnesota Community Foundation were inspired to create the Minnesota Idea Open by a number of social trends:

  • We were watching other efforts - like and Ashoka's Changemakers - use technology to engage large numbers of people in suggesting and shaping ideas
  • We were watching how funders were using competition - like the X Prize Foundation and the Case Foundation's Make It Your Own Awards - to incent extraordinary efforts to develop creative solutions to problems
  • We were watching how competitive reality shows - like American Idol and The Amazing Race - could engage huge audiences and get people excited and invested in outcomes

We wanted to put all these trends to work for Minnesota.

The Minnesota Idea Open is our effort to create a fun and engaging way for Minnesotans to learn about critical issues affecting the state, develop creative new solutions for addressing those issues and be inspired to act.

We partnered with Ashoka's Changemakers to develop a state-of-the art Challenge website. We tapped their expertise running large, international competitions to create a local version - operated for and by Minnesotans.

We administer at least one marquee Challenge each year, through which we try to get EVERY Minnesotan thinking and talking about an issue at the same time.

Throughout the year, we also are able to administer other types of Challenges for organizations around the state working to address important community issues.

All of our efforts were made possible by the John S and James L. Knight Foundation, which awarded us a grant to develop this idea in Minnesota then share it with other states. We develop and administer the Challenges with the counsel of a number of local partners, including the Citizens League, Grassroots Solutions and Padilla Speer Beardsley.

Together with scores of partners throughout the state, we are able to bring together all Minnesotans in a fun and competitive race for the Idea Open crown each year.

Game on!