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Tell us your bold idea for Rhode Island
By Jessica David / December 5, 2014 /   Loading Disqus...

The Rhode Island Innovation Fellowship application season is one of my favorite times of year. 

The Innovation Fellowship is designed to stimulate solutions by Rhode Islanders to Rhode Island challenges. It provides $300,000 over three years to two Fellows named annually. Our six current Innovation Fellows have brought about The Retail Project, Rally RI, Rhode Island Defeats Hep C, Innovation by Design, Colorfast, and the Eat Drink RI Central Market. 

The Innovation Fellowship was created, as you know, by Letitia and John Carter. I like to think that it was born out of their spirit of entrepreneurship, commitment to our community, and confidence in Rhode Island. We tried to live up to their goals by developing a concise application and reaching out to invite every Rhode Islander to submit ideas. Over the past three years, we have received more than 900 proposals. 

I’ve been impressed by the quality and the creativity of the proposals, which cover a wide range of issues, geographies, and approaches. It is fascinating to see commonalities or themes emerge each year and to see which candidates rise to the fore. But even more, I’ve been impressed by the applicants’ generosity of spirit. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and risk judgment, particularly when your idea is outside of the norm. Without exception, these innovators bring enthusiasm and good will; they are passionate about their cause, excited for feedback, and eager to contribute.  

The Carters have truly opened the door for optimism in Rhode Island, and in many ways, I think we are all trying to live up to their example. After all, it’s both exciting and daunting to imagine, what would you do for Rhode Island with $300,000? Pam Omidyar, co-founder of the Omidyar Network, says that “innovation is about courageous experimentation,” and that is what the Innovation Fellowship demands. 

I hope you will add your ideas to the mix this year. The application asks for your brief answers to just four questions by December 12, 2014:

  • What is your idea?
  • How would you use this Fellowship to accomplish your idea?
  • Why do you believe you should receive the Fellowship?
  • If this idea were successfully developed and implemented, what would be the resulting benefit to the community? 

I can’t wait to read your bold idea for Rhode Island!

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