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Challenge Cuyahoga Competition to Hold Kick-Off Party

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Media contact:
Nicole Dailey Jones: (216) 263-4602, (216)338-0863 or ndjones@cuyahogacounty.us
John Kohlstrand: (216) 698-2099 or jkohlstrand@cuyahogacounty.us

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and the Civic Commons are teaming up on a social innovation competition in order to increase civic engagement among local residents.

A kick-off party is planned for the Challenge Cuyahoga Competition at 6 p.m. on Oct. 28, 2011 at Legation, a Gallery, 78th Street Studios, at 1300 W. 78th St. in Cleveland. The annual theme and ground rules for the year-long competition will be announced at the event. Tickets are only $10, and registration is available at www.challengecuyahoga.eventbrite.com.

Challenge Cuyahoga is a social innovation competition that surfaces and supports innovative citizen-based projects to address challenges and opportunities related to Cuyahoga County’s progress. Winners will receive seed money for their projects through a combination of crowd-sourced fundraising and institutional matching funds.

Studies have shown that there is a direct correlation between civic engagement and the health of the local economy. According to new research from the U.S. Census, States and localities with more civic engagement in 2006 saw less growth in unemployment between 2006 and 2010. It is critical for local governments to begin developing solutions to promote robust civic engagement.

Guest speakers scheduled to share their stories of social entrepreneurship include Liz Ferro, founder and executive director of Girls With Sole; Chris Kious, founder of A Piece of Cleveland; Brian Wiley, founder, Halal Hotdogs in Minneapolis, Minn.; and Syreeta Gates, founder of The SWT Life in New York City.

County Executive FitzGerald will be on hand to talk about the project and to formally announce the competition and its unique annual theme. The remainder of the evening will be a celebration of social innovation through idea-sharing and conversations over music provided by Mister Bradley P and heavy hors d'oeuvres.

“Today in this age of declining resources government must work together with citizens to the address the challenges facing Cuyahoga County,” said FitzGerald. “It is our hope that the Challenge Cuyahoga initiative will begin creating a movement for social innovation which will empower citizens to develop new ideas to help move Cuyahoga County forward.”

The Challenge’s partner, The Civic Commons, is a civic engagement utility providing community outreach, a social network and online tools to support civic action for the improvement of Northeast Ohio. The Civic Commons receives support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Fund For Our Economic Future.

Challenge Cuyahoga is part of a coordinated Day of Social Innovation and follows Cleveland Social Venture Partners’ BigBang Forum, which runs all day from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Cleveland State University Student Center. The BigBANG! Cleveland will convene investors, social entrepreneurs, nonprofit leaders and philanthropies for a day-long opportunity to catalyze positive impact. The event will feature eight innovative nonprofits chosen through Cleveland Social Venture Partners investment cycle.