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
December 2, 2021 [6:00 PM ET]: Early Entry Deadline
January 25, 2022 [6:00 PM ET]: Final Entry Deadline
January 26, 2022 - February 9, 2022: Screening & Feedback
February 10, 2022: Featured Innovators' Announcements Begin
February 15, 2022 - March 8, 2022 [5:00 PM ET]: Semifinalist Refinement
March 9 - 30, 2022: Semifinalist Review
March 31, 2022: Featured Innovators' Announcement
April 1 - 20, 2022: Finalist Review
April 21, 2022: Featured Innovators’ Announcement
All eligible participants will receive:
Early Entry Featured Innovators will receive:
Semifinalists (up to 33% of total applicants) will receive:
Finalists (up to 30) will receive:
Overall Featured Innovators (up to 10) will receive:
Participants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
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:
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.
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)
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:
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:
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].
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.