The J.M.K. Kaplan Innovation Prize for early stage impact entrepreneurs

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The J.M. Kaplan Fund welcomes applications to the 2019 edition of The J.M.K. Innovation Prize which seeks to identify, support, and elevate innovators who are spearheading transformative early-stage projects in the fields of the environment, heritage conservation, and social justice.  Ten prizes, each including a cash award of $150,000 over three years, plus $25,000 for project expenses, for a total award of $175,000, will be awarded in 2019. Awardees also receive guidance through the Fund and its resource network, providing trainings and tools for ascendant changemakers.

The application deadline is April 30, 2019. Please visit or email for additional information.

The biennial J.M.K. Innovation Prize is tailored for early-stage social entrepreneurs, recognizing the scarcity of funding for untested ideas being piloted in the social innovation field. The Prize is designed to fill this gap in innovation philanthropy, supporting ideas that other funders may deem too risky or too small. The Prize’s unrestricted funding offers this flexibility, letting awardees deploy resources where they are most needed, whether investing in core projects, hiring staff, or just keeping the lights on.  The Prize gives awardees room to evolve at their own pace, with support tailored to their needs as innovators.
Beyond the cash award, the Innovation Prize provides tools to help turn ideas into action. Over the three-year Prize term, Kaplan brings awardees together for two convenings each year. Each of these meetings, spotlighting a different awardee’s organization, offers opportunities for peer learning and mentoring from experts in organizational development, board cultivation, media coaching, leadership training, and more. Through these gatherings, Kaplan seeks to cultivate a community of innovators who can build meaningful relationships with one another as well as with the Fund. A hallmark of the Prize is the Fund’s readiness to devote its considerable resource network to support awardees throughout their Prize term and beyond.
Individuals or teams representing non-profit or for-profit organizations are eligible to apply for the 2019 J.M.K. Innovation Prize. The Prize will be awarded to projects or ideas that:
  • represent a game-changing answer to a clearly identified need;
  • are innovative within one or more of the Fund’s three program areas;
  • demonstrate the potential to develop an actionpilot or prototype with Prize funding; and
  • hold out the promise to benefit multiple individuals,communities, or sectors through a clearly articulated theory of change.
Application for the 2019 J.M.K. Innovation Prize is a two-step process. A first-round application will be made available on the website on January 29 and will be open until April 30. Select applicants will be invited to submit a more detailed second-round application in late spring. Finalists will be invited to New York City in the fall to present their ideas to the trustees of The J.M. Kaplan Fund. Awardees will be formally announced in November 2019.
About The J.M. Kaplan Fund
The J.M. Kaplan Fund champions transformative social, environmental, and cultural causes through inventive grant-
making. Established in 1945 by philanthropist and businessman Jacob Merrill Kaplan, the Fund has since its inception been committed to visionary innovation. Over its 74-year history, the Fund has devoted $250 million to propel fledgling efforts concerning civil liberties, human rights, the arts, and the conservation and enhancement of the built and natural worlds. The J.M.K. Innovation Prize continues the Fund’s legacy of catalytic giving, reaching across America to provide early-stage support for entrepreneurs with twenty-first-century solutions to urgent social and environmental challenges.