01/21/2013 08:37 am ET Updated Mar 23, 2013

The JobRaising Challenge: Seizing the Moment to Help Put Americans Back to Work

Last September, we chose to seize the moment of the political conventions to launch our JobRaising Challenge, tapping into the job-creating potential of nonprofits to raise money, raise awareness, and help put Americans back to work. Today, as President Obama is sworn in for a second term, we're seizing the moment to take the Challenge to the next stage. In doing so, we want to continue to put the spotlight on an ongoing jobs crisis that has left more than 25 million Americans unemployed or underemployed -- a crisis that transcends the outdated left vs. right way of thinking that dominates our politics.

When we first kicked off the JobRaising Challenge, we called on non-profits to compete for a $250,000 prize from the Skoll Foundation by describing their ideas and efforts to end the jobs crisis.

A total of 217 nonprofits in 31 states and 110 cities applied. But what was even more gratifying was the quality, variety and boldness of their ideas -- from innovative solutions for unemployed veterans to ways to help people get proper clothing for job interviews. And starting today, as a first step in converting these ideas into real-world solutions, you can read about the 74 finalists and donate to the nonprofits with the ideas you support.

To give a sense of the diversity of the JobRaising finalists, here are just a few examples:

There's Paul Reickhoff's IAVA, which is launching a new jobs portal called the Military Jobs Pipeline to help veterans find jobs. There's Girls Who Code, which plans to train over a million girls in programming skills by 2020, equipping them to take on some of our toughest problems and combating a culture that too often steers girls away from STEM-related careers. And Getting Out and Staying Out -- founded by Mark Goldsmith, a former cosmetics company executive whose life changed when he visited Rikers Island one day. His organization helps vastly reduce recidivism rates by helping inmates plan for life after prison.

Your donations, which will determine the recipients of the $250,000 prize, will be essential in making JobRaising a success and helping put Americans back to work. Visit to view the powerful profiles and videos of our finalists and donate to the organizations that resonate most with you. The organization that raises the most between today and March 1st will win $150,000; the second place finisher will win $50,000 and third place will get $30,000. The remaining $20,000 will be used throughout the competition to incentivize short-term fundraising.

So please read our finalists' blogs on HuffPost, consider making a donation, and share the Challenge with your friends on social media. As we come together to seize this moment, we can act on John Gardner's belief that "what we have before us are some breathtaking opportunities disguised as insoluble problems."