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A Culture of Innovative Ideas: My Conversation with the Winners of the $75,000 Social Innovation Challenge

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Social innovation, activism, problem solving, thought leadership - no matter what phrase you use to describe it, there is a need to accelerate the process of generating and adopting new ideas to meet unmet societal needs.

With this in mind, last summer I partnered with the A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland to launch a $75,000 Social Innovation Challenge. Our goal was to help address some of society's most pressing and complex issues in three key areas: hunger, education, and sustainability.

The inaugural challenge attracted submissions from 23 states across the nation, as well as the District of Columbia. Three winners were chosen based upon the following criteria: originality and innovation, business model approach, experience of team, potential scalability of business, potential for return on investment, and social impact.

Today I spoke with the three winners -- Alexander Moore, director of development & communications at DC Central Kitchen (partnered with Mike Curtin, CEO DC Central Kitchen); Christopher Brown, regional executive director of BUILD (partnered with Kamilla Kovacs, BUILD); and Derrius Quarles, founder of Million Dollar Scholar -- about their projects and the importance of innovation.

Listen to The Tavis Smiley Show from PRI at http://www.tavissmileyradio.com. Afterwards, share your thoughts and insights with me on Twitter @tavissmiley.