You know as well as I do that Oregonians are driven by a creative and entrepreneurial spirit. That spirit is part of Oregon’s heritage—dating back to those entrepreneurs who arrived here on the Oregon Trail—and that same spirit remains a distinct part of its culture—even today as the economy is less than inspiring.
Meyer Memorial Trust (MMT) recognizes that spirit exists but they think it may need a little kick in the pants. And to prove it, they’re upping the ante on “a penny for your thoughts” by offering a crowdsourced innovation contest called Ideas 4 Oregon that will result in at least one lucky idea—and possibly more—receiving one million dollars to bring it to life.
What’s the Meyer Memorial Trust, you ask? Well, it’s the largest private foundation in Oregon, established from Fred G. Meyer’s personal estate. Over the past five years, MMT distributed an average $28 million per year in grants and program-related investment loans, surpassing $500 million with its most recent awards. At the same time, its assets have grown from $120 million to about $600 million, after giving away $500 million.
Now they’re hoping to put those assets to work on in a way that stimulates Oregon’s creativity.
“Oregon used to be a hotbed of energetic innovation,” said Doug Stamm, CEO of Meyer Memorial Trust, in a press release. “But we are at risk of begin caught up in contagious pessimism. This is not a time for faint-hearted suggestions, it’s a time to think big. We want bold and innovative, entrepreneurial ideas… the kind Fred Meyer might have had.”
So how does it work? Ideas 4 Oregon will ask users to identify both the most critical issue facing Oregon and the most viable way of solving that problem. What’s more, in true crowdsourcing fashion, users can also comment and critique other ideas. Suggestions and comments will be accepted until July 13, 2010. Once the ideas are submitted, MMT will release a Request for Proposals, inviting organizations to state their case for receiving the funding to bring the idea to fruition. Best of all? Anyone can participate. Nonprofit or otherwise.
And for those more interested in the technical aspects, you’ll likely notice that Ideas 4 Oregon is built on top of Uservoice, makers of that little sideways “Feedback” tab you see all over the Web.
“We hope this idea forum will help change the conversation in the state from how bad things are to what can we do to make them better,” said Orcilia Forbes, Chair of the Meyer Memorial Trust Board. “Meyer Memorial Trust can’t solve Oregon’s problems, but we’re willing to step up and try to jumpstart us in a better direction.”
For more information or to submit your million dollar idea, visit Ideas 4 Oregon. And you can be sure we’ll be checking back in to see how the contest is progressing.