Back in the fall, the Rockefeller Foundation and Boulder-based startup accelerator Unreasonable Institute unveiled a $1 million competition designed to jumpstart new solutions to the most pressing problems facing cities today. More than 600 creative thinkers submitted proposals.
Today, the first ten winners of the Future Cities Accelerator have been announced, and they’re an eclectic group. The winning startups will each receive a $100,000 grant to help turn their ideas into reality. They will also participate in a 9-month program providing access to mentors, investors, and technological support. Here’s a quick look at the ideas getting support from the program.
Coalition for Queens (New York, NY)—A job education program teaching adults living in poverty how to code and then helping them find work at high-profile tech companies. The program has already trained and placed more than 100 students, raising their average incomes from $18,000 to $85,000.
CommonLit (Washington, D.C.)—A website offering free literacy tests and reading materials, enabling teachers to measure a student’s reading ability and provide tailored texts and quizzes. The site has helped some 250,000 students across the country so far.
EveryoneOn (Washington, D.C.)—This company brokers deals with internet service providers, tech companies, and city and state groups to extend internet access to the millions of Americans who can’t yet get online. EveryoneOn has already provided over 390,000 Americans with affordable internet access.
Haven Connect (Bay Area)—Nicknamed “the TurboTax of affordable housing,” this startup is transforming the frustrating process of applying for affordable housing into a user-friendly experience that only takes 15 minutes.
mRelief (Chicago, IL)—An easy-to-use web and text-messaging platform for families to find out if they qualify for food stamps. To date, over 100,000 families in 42 states have used mRelief to secure food stamps.
Learn Fresh (Denver, CO)—Using a basketball-based board game and app, this company teaches math to kids. With sponsorship from the NBA, Learn Math Fresh is currently reaching over 30,000 kids across the US.
Propel (New York, NY)—Propel created Fresh EBT, a free financial management app for SNAP Benefits (formerly known as food stamps) that allows users to manage and budget their benefits, find places to shop, and access other money-saving resources.
Spoiler Alert (Boston, MA)—An online marketplace enabling food distributors to make food donations and discounted sales to nonprofits helping people struggling to get enough food.
Storytime (Washington, D.C)—An app where teachers can text illustrated books to families, increasing at-home reading and literacy. Over 5,000 kids are currently using Storytime to learn to read.
Thread (Baltimore, MD)—A 24/7, 365-day mentoring service for 9th graders who face challenges outside the classroom. Some 92 percent of current 250 participants have graduated from high school and 90 percent were accepted into college.