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Winners Announced
it is time
for change.


  • We have announced our Early Entry and Semifinalist featured innovators! To learn more about them, visit Featured Innovators.
  • Our general application phase closed on 6pm EST on January 25th, 2022.
  • We will be releasing new issue briefings regularly through April. For captivating reads and compelling insights, visit
    Valuing Homes in Black Communities.

Do you have a structural innovation that fully values homes in Black communities? Join our collaborative Challenge. Connect to a community of innovators. Participate in the opportunity to win additional funding of up to $100,000 to help drive change forward.

Over 3.2 million owner-occupied homes in Black-majority neighborhoods across America have been collectively devalued by $156 billion. The devaluation of homes in Black-majority neighborhoods reflects the structural and ubiquitous bias that exists in the U.S. housing market.

Together, Ashoka and Brookings are launching this Collaborative Innovation Challenge to foster a new generation of structural innovations to address devaluation.

We believe people across the country are developing powerful innovations with the potential to (re)design our markets so they reflect the value of homes in Black communities; the value of homes as financial asset, as the place where people live their lives, and as the building blocks of communities.

We invited innovators who are advancing policy-based and market-based change on the local, regional and/or national scale to submit applications from October 28th through January 25th for a chance to win funding of up to $100,000.

If you have any questions regarding the Challenge or our research, please contact us at [email protected].


October 28, 2021: Challenge Opens

  • Participants may begin submitting entries.

December 2, 2021 [6:00 PM ET]: Early Entry Deadline

  • Participants who submit and eligible entry by this deadline will be considered for the Early Entry Prize (see below).

January 25, 2022 [6:00 PM ET]: Final Entry Deadline

  • The application period closes and submitted, eligible applications continue to the Screening & Community Review phase.

January 26, 2022 - February 9, 2022: Screening & Feedback

  • Participants network and provide peer feedback to one another.
  • Screeners select semifinalists.

February 10, 2022: Featured Innovators' Announcements Begin

February 15, 2022 - March 8, 2022 [5:00 PM ET]: Semifinalist Refinement

  • Semifinalists have an opportunity to refine their applications based on feedback.

March 9 - 30, 2022: Semifinalist Review

  • A panel reviews semifinalist submissions and selects finalists.

March 31, 2022: Featured Innovators' Announcement

April 1 - 20, 2022: Finalist Review

  • A judges panel select winners from among finalists.

April 21, 2022: Featured Innovators’ Announcement


All eligible participants will receive:

  • The opportunity to view, review and connect with other Challenge applicants.
  • Feedback on their Challenge application from their peers.
  • Feedback on their Challenge application from screeners selected by Ashoka and/or the Brookings Institution.

Early Entry Featured Innovators will receive:

  • A cash prize of up to $15,000 each.
  • Additional feedback on their Challenge application from Ashoka colleagues on how to strengthen their application during the Refinement phase.
  • Automatic passage into the Semifinalist phase of the Challenge.

Semifinalists (up to 33% of total applicants) will receive:

  • An opportunity to refine their entries and incorporate feedback received from peers and reviewers.
  • Additional feedback from Challenge screeners selected by Ashoka and/or the Brookings Institution.

Finalists (up to 30) will receive:

  • An opportunity to network virtually with Challenge partners.

Overall Featured Innovators (up to 10) will receive:

  • A cash prize of up to $100,000 each.
  • An opportunity to collaborate with Challenge partners.


Application Eligibility

Participants must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • All persons involved with preparing or submitting this application are over 18 years of age.
  • All persons involved with preparing or submitting this application as well as the organizations affiliated with the application are committed to advancing racial equity.
  • All persons involved with preparing or submitting this application agree to the Valuing Homes in Black Communities Challenge Terms and Conditions.
  • No person involved with preparing or submitting this application has a conflict of interest in participating in the Valuing Homes in Black Communities Challenge or was involved in the Challenge’s design, decision-making, or administration.
  • The innovation has a clear path for success and has demonstrated initial momentum. (See FAQs below.)
  • The applicant represents a citizen sector, private sector, or public sector entity with an organization registered in the United States. Alternatively, this innovation is affiliated with a partner that is registered in the United States and could accept funds on behalf of the innovation.
  • The applicant is authorized or has approval from the sponsoring organization to submit and/or represent this application in this Challenge.

Application Evaluation

The selection committee and judge's panel will be looking for Changemakers who provide strong answers to a range of questions about what your initiative does, what connects you to this topic, and how you plan to bring about structural change. Entries will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Focus: Does the innovation focus on increasing the value of homes in Black communities? (See FAQs for what we mean by the “value of homes”.)
  • Structural: To what extent does the innovation create structural change in the market? (See FAQs for what we mean by the “structural change“.)
  • Impact: To what extent does the innovation increase the value of homes in Black communities?
  • Strategic Path: Does the innovation have a clear path to bring about structural change in the market?
  • Creativity: Does the innovation bring a new approach to valuing homes in Black communities?
  • Ethics: Is the sponsoring organization committed to advancing racial equity?
  • Dedication: Is the sponsoring organization committed to carrying out their initiative and creating a lasting impact?

In addition to our evaluation criteria described above, the group of winning teams will be selected to represent the diversity of applications received and the diversity of the field. Diversity will refer to: gender, accessibility, class, ethnicity, race and age. Diversity can be showcased in the target audience of a project, its partners or the team representing it.


The Valuing Homes in Black Communities Challenge is led by teams at Ashoka and the Brookings Institution.

Dr. Andre M. Perry
Valuing Homes in Black Communities Challenge

Senior Fellow
Brookings Metro

Dr. Stuart Yasgur
Valuing Homes in Black Communities Challenge

Leadership Group Member

This collaborative effort reflects the contribution of a broad number of partners. If you or your organization are interested in getting involved, please contact us at [email protected].


(Frequently Asked Questions)


What is Economic Architecture?

Economic Architecture is dedicated to the premise that we can and should (re)design our markets to serve the public good. And when we do, we have the potential to tap into the drive, ambition, and ingenuity of market participants to solve the problems that are impacting people’s lives.

Why do we use the term “homes” and not “houses”

While the term “houses” might reflect a focus on buildings, the term “homes” reflects our focus on people and their relationship to the buildings they live within.

Why do we use the term “communities” and not “neighborhoods”?

While the term “neighborhoods” can sometimes be used to refer to a geographic area, the term “communities” emphasizes our focus on the relationships among people living in a geographic area.

What do we mean when we say the “value of homes“?

To prepare for this Challenge, we reviewed the work of over 6,000 organizations and interviewed over 100 innovators from across the country.

Throughout these interviews, innovators focused our attention on three different ways that homes are valuable, as financial assets, as the place where people live and as the building blocks of community.

Homes are valuable because they are financial assets. Homeownership is a main driver of wealth in the US. When the market devalues homes in Black-majority neighborhoods by 23%, the market is taking $156 billion dollars of wealth away from homeowners in those neighborhoods.

Relevant topics that innovators address include problems with low appraisals, high assessments, high mortgage rates, high insurance costs and disinvestment.

Homes are valuable because they are where people live, where families gather, where children grow up. Homes are the places to which people return and which provide a sense of safety and belonging.

Relevant topics that innovators address include issues that impact the affordability, safety, security and stability, such as gentrification, rising tax burdens and eviction proceedings.

Homes are valuable because of the communities they are a part of, the people who live nearby, the relationships between people, the social fabric, the social cohesions, and the culture and traditions which emerge.

Relevant topics that innovators address include issues that impact the continuity of the community such as development without displacement, gentrification, rising tax burdens and growing number of financial landlords.

What is a structural innovation?

Structural innovations change the strategic landscape for other participants in the market. This leads market participants to adapt their strategies and ultimately change their behaviors. In aggregate these changes in behavior change the impact of the market. Example of the difference between direct service and structural innovations:

Small-dollar Mortgages (Mortgages of less than $100,000)

  • Direct service: Provide a prospective homeowner with a small-dollar mortgage.
  • Direct service at scale: Provide 100 prospective homeowners with small-dollar mortgages.
  • Possible structural innovation: Create a secondary market so financial institutions compete to offer small-dollar mortgages to prospective homeowners.


  • Direct service: Work with a homeowner to appeal an appraisal.
  • Direct service at scale: Work with 1000 homeowners to appeal their appraisals.
  • Possible structural innovation: Create a certification system to ensure appraisal management companies proactively identify appraisals that devalue homes in Black-majority neighborhoods.


  • Direct service: Work with a resident to avoid eviction while experiencing a financial emergency.
  • Direct service at scale: Offer a program to work with 1000 residents to avoid eviction while experiencing a financial emergency.
  • Possible structural innovation: Create a stakeholder funded insurance product to enable residents to deal with financial emergencies and avoid eviction.

What is a market-based innovation?

Market-based innovations are innovations that can be introduced and carried out by market participants. Possible examples of market-based innovations include:

  • A new type of mortgage product to finance the purchase of owner-occupied rentals
  • Alternative credit rating service that more accurately reflects a prospective borrower’s credit worthiness
  • A model for collectively developing mixed income neighborhoods

What is a policy-based innovation?

Policy-based innovations are innovations that require policy change to be carried out. Possible examples of policy-based innovations include:

  • Legal standards for land contracts
  • Real estate tax reduction for properties held by community land trusts
  • Removal of single family home zoning restrictions

Challenge Logistics

How was the Challenge designed?

Ashoka has been a pioneer and leader in collaborative challenges. In its methodology, Ashoka guides each challenge topic through a rigorous vetting and framing process to ensure the challenge topic can bring about changes in societal patterns at the regional or continent-wide level scale. This Challenge was specifically designed to address a topic of historic importance - the structure of the housing market in Black-majority communities.

The current value of homes in Black-majority communities has been shaped by both policy and market forces. Consequently, we designed this Challenge to allow both policy-based and market-based innovations to be submitted. Our approach to allocating the prize funds reflect the basic realities of how policy and market innovations originate and mature.

We have a particular interest in innovators who have been directly impacted by the topic. We designed the Early Entry period as a way to highlight several local innovators and provide them with an opportunity to win a small prize to help bolster their competitiveness in later rounds. In the semifinalist round, all applications (local and national) will be evaluated on par with one another within the respective policy-based or market-based tracks.

When can I apply?

You can submit an application any time within the general application period of October 28th through January 25, 2022. If you submit a complete, eligible application before December 2nd, you may qualify to win an Early Entry prize.

How does the application process work?

To apply, click the "Participate" button on the top right of this page. This will take you to our Challenge portal and community, hosted by WeChangers. You will be prompted to create and activate an account. You can then begin the application.

The application will ask several questions about you, your sponsoring organization, and the innovation you are representing. Most of the questions allow long-form text entry up to 2400 characters (a little over half of a page, single-spaced). You will also have the opportunity to upload images and related files, should you desire.

If you complete and submit an eligible application by December 2nd, you will be considered for an Early Entry Prize. The general application process closes January 25th.

You application will then go through a series of reviews by peers and judges to select semifinalists. If you’re selected as a semifinalist, you will be able to edit your application during the Refinement phase to incorporate feedback you received from peers and judges. After the semifinalist phase closes, your application will undergo two more rounds of review by judges to potentially be selected as a finalist or winner. Winners will be announced in April.

Will my application be made public?

Most of your application will be made publicly available. There are significant benefits to making your submissions public. Knowing what you are doing might foster more connections both in your community and with other innovators. Innovation is contagious. The energy it took to launch your innovation can be inspiring and spark a flame in others. We hope you experience both of these benefits.

The application also includes a section where you can share information with the Challenge administrators and judges, which you would prefer be kept private. This information is withheld from peers during the review process.

I want to submit information for evaluation that I don’t want to make public. Can I keep some information private?

The Entry form has two questions that allow you to privately share information and upload files, which will only be accessible by official Challenge judges and administrators. The answers to the private questions will not be made visible in the innovation’s public profile.

I want to include multiple people as co-applicants and co-representatives. Is that possible?

We ask that the application be managed by only one person and have only one primary representative.

Can I edit my application after I submit it?

Yes, all applicants can edit their applications through the closing of the General Entry period on January 25th. Semifinalists have an additional Refinement phase, in which they are allowed to improve their applications prior to the review and selection of finalists. For a video tutorial on how to edit an application, see the Resources section on the Valuing Homes in Black Communities Community site.

What will the Primary Representative’s responsibility be throughout the challenge?

The Primary Representative is the public representative or spokesperson for your project at all formal events. The Primary Representative may be invited to take part in any virtual or in-person events featuring your innovation (e.g. roundtable and panel discussions), may be introduced to Challenge partners for networking opportunities, and may ultimately represent the sponsoring organization in receiving any prizes received.

When will early entry winners be notified?

Early Entry Winners will be notified before January 13th, the General Entry deadline.

Who can I contact with questions?

We would be happy to answer your questions. Please send them to [email protected].

Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria

How will applications be evaluated?

At each stage of the Challenge, applications will be evaluated and scored by multiple judges selected by Ashoka. This scoring process allows multiple judges to indicate the strength of each application relative to the Challenge criteria. The scoring of each application is compared across judges to ensure consensus about the resulting score. (Similarly, we control for the general scoring trend of each judge.)

During the selection of semi-finalists, each General Entry application will also undergo peer reviews. The peer reviews will contribute valuable feedback to the applicants and also contribute to the scoring of applications during semifinalist selection.

How does Ashoka view racial equity?

Ashoka has a strong commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. You can find more information here: Ashoka DEI Statement.

What does it mean to “demonstrate evidence of a path for success and initial momentum”?

Market-based innovations should be able to show a business plan. They should also be able to clearly provide evidence that the innovation can gain traction in the market. Examples of evidence include: a proof-of-concept, results of a pilot study, or early stage implementation results.

Policy-based innovations, on the other hand, should be able to show the buy-in of key stakeholder groups. If the policy has been implemented, you can also tell us about the results.

My innovation or team does not have a formal, registered organizational structure. Are we eligible to participate?

Winners will need to be affiliated with an organization that can accept and be accountable for the use of funds. During the first round of the application, we will ask for a sponsoring organization. The sponsoring organization would be accountable to the Terms and Conditions about how the prize money may be spent. If your innovation does not have a formal, registered organization structure, we ask that you indicate an affiliated organization, which can serve this role. If your innovation comes from a coalition of various organizations, choose one as the primary organization affiliated with the challenge.

I am a student at a university. Am I eligible to participate?

Yes, as long as you meet the other eligibility criteria as well.

I am employed by a government agency or office. Am I eligible to participate?

Yes, you can participate if your government entity is aware of and endorses your application.

What is meant by the phrase “conflict of interest”?

Participants must not have participated in the design or administration of the challenge. Also, your organization must be aware of your participation and have designated you as a representative for the organization on this project.

Do I have to be a U.S. citizen?

Participants must be a legal resident of the United States, including those with a student visa or work permit.


Applicants' entries will be published on the Challenge platform and accessible by the public. You can identify the sections of the application form that will be displayed publicly by their label “Public”. Entry information may also be shared with third parties for evaluating and processing the applications. The Challenge Partners will implement appropriate measures to ensure the Applicant’s Confidential Information is not actively revealed to any third-party that is not necessary to such related activities.

Review the full Terms and Conditions for more information about the program, including participation, intellectual property, use of prize money, use of the information you submit as a result of your participation in the program, and more.

Winners Announced
Submission Closed
Timeline ( time)
  • Application Entry
    Started at 28 Oct 08:00
    Ended on 25 Jan 18:00
  • Early Entrant Refinement
    Started at 22 Jan 08:00
    Ended on 28 Jan 18:00
  • Screening and Feedback
    Started at 01 Feb 12:00
    Ended on 11 Feb 18:00
  • Semifinalist Refinement
    Started at 15 Feb 09:00
    Ended on 08 Mar 18:00
  • Semifinalist Review
    Started at 09 Mar 09:00
    Ended on 30 Mar 18:00
  • Finalist Review
    Winners Announced
Open Timeline
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