Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation

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Marquette University and WARF announce fourth annual ‘Force for Positive Change’ event and award

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Laura Heisler, WARF Director of Programming
[email protected] | (608) 316-4392

Applications are open for the social entrepreneurship competition that identifies next generation, financially sustainable ideas making an impact in Wisconsin

MADISON – The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), along with Marquette University and partners across the state, announced that applications are open for the fourth annual Force for Positive Change award. The Force for Positive Change is a statewide competition that focuses on social entrepreneurship as a model for solving social or environmental challenges in a way that is sustainable, just and generates impact in Wisconsin.

To be eligible, entities must be an incorporated enterprise — a nonprofit, for-profit or hybrid company — with a revenue-generating product or service; address a significant social and/or environmental challenge that exists in Wisconsin through their products, services or operations; and have a staff based in Wisconsin.

At least six awards of $10,000 will be distributed to winning organizations during this year’s competition to recognize innovative models for solving complex problems across the state. At least three (3) $10,000 prizes will be awarded to high impact social enterprises addressing the UN sustainable development goals, as in previous years. In addition, this year the Force for Positive Change is introducing three new categories open to both for-profit and nonprofit social impact organizations:

  • One (1) $10,000 prize for a successful pivot in response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Wisconsin
  • One (1) $10,000 prize for an organization demonstrating a commitment to addressing racial equity issues in Wisconsin
  • One (1) $10,000 prize for an organization, which may include an innovative farm-based operation, positively impacting Wisconsin’s rural population

“Over the past few years, this program has identified some great examples of social entrepreneurship across the state. Wisconsin organizations have had to be more resilient than ever to confront the adversity currently impacting the state,” said Laura Heisler, director of programming at WARF. “We are honored to be able to recognize those organizations rising to meet these daunting challenges.”

Applications are being accepted online now through December 15, 2020. On January 25, 2021, select applicants will be invited to advance to a second phase of the competition, and a panel of expert judges from the public, private and academic sectors as well as investors and granting organizations will review each of the final applications. Similar to last year, the program will culminate with an event featuring panels, discussions and keynote addresses relating to social impact. During the event attendees will hear from inspiring speakers and the award winners will be announced. This year’s event will be entirely online and will take place in the early spring, with specific dates to be determined.

“We are excited to celebrate and recognize organizations that are Forces of Positive Change in their communities because they are creating positive, social impact and solving issues on the ground level. This year, the work of these organizations has taken on additional importance for the residents of our state, in our cities as well as in our rural areas. We are particularly excited to be able to offer the three special consideration awards this year,” said Kelsey Otero, associate director of social innovation at Marquette.

Marquette University and WARF are heading the competition, in conjunction with American Family Insurance, Ashoka, Promega Corporation, StartingBlock Madison, gener8tor, UW-Eau Claire, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

For more information or to apply visit warf.org/PositiveChange.

The Force for Positive Change Award Competition is sponsored by Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and Marquette University. Entries will be accepted from October 27, 2020, through December 15, 2020. Entries will be judged by a panel of judges selected by the sponsors. The odds of winning depend on the number and quality of entries received. No purchase necessary to enter. Void where prohibited. For full official rules visit warf.org/PositiveChange.