Ashoka/BNY Mellon Unlocking Change Challenge 2018 for Social Entrepreneurs in the United States

Ashoka/BNY Mellon Unlocking Change Challenge 2018 for Social Entrepreneurs in the United States

Deadline: June 13, 2018

Ashoka and BNY Mellon invite entries for the Unlocking ¢hange Challenge 2018. The Unlocking ¢hange Challenge will support the most promising social entrepreneurs in the United States with bold ideas to increase financial wellbeing, ensuring communities can set financial goals, grow their personal savings, and access capital, credit, financial services, and products needed to thrive.

The challenge aims to promote financial wellbeing in underserved communities and in underrepresented groups in the United States. Top social entrepreneurs and their ventures will receive a total of $200,000 in funding, a collaborative digital platform to connect with peers, and feedback from the BNY Mellon and Ashoka team of thought leaders.

How can innovations empower people from underserved communities to be the drivers of their own financial wellbeing, resilience, and freedom? If you have an innovation for financial wellbeing they want to hear from you! Submit your venture by June 13, 2018 for a chance to scale your impact and create a strong financial future for all.


Ashoka Changemakers’ “everyone’s a winner” approach aims to ensure that they’re creating value for all innovators that join our challenges, and enabling the creation of alliances in the effort to promote financial wellbeing for all communities.
Here’s a summary of the awards and benefits at each stage of the challenge:

All entrants receive:

  • Opportunity to participate in the peer review process, offering feedback to their peers and receiving feedback from peers
  • Feedback from Ashoka reviewers on their entry’s highlights and areas for improvement
  • Invitations to join thematic online Ashoka Huddles as participants (virtual roundtables)
  • Exposure to selected pieces of content covering the topic of financial wellbeing
  • Exposure to original Ashoka and BNY Mellon Challenge Trends Report, resulting from the data collected and analyzed during the challenge process
  • Online support sessions during entry period, hosted by Ashoka with application best practices and Q&A

Drivers (Semi-Finalists) receive all of the above, plus:

  • Opportunity to refine their entries and incorporate insights from reviewers and peer feedback
  • Feedback from BNY Mellon employees and Ashoka staff on their edited entry form
  • Additional online support session during refining phase
  • Access to an exclusive Drivers of Financial Wellbeing online community
  • Formal (hard copy) recognition of their contributions to the broader movement from BNY Mellon and Ashoka suitable for framing.
  • Representation of their work and perspectives in the data collected and analyzed for Challenge Trends Report

10 Pioneers (Finalists) are given all that Drivers receive, plus:

  • Invitation to participate in a syndicated Ashoka Huddles for challenge Pioneers during the final evaluation period.
  • Personalized feedback from official challenge judges
  • Opportunity for a structured interview with one challenge judge during final review period
  • Featured representation of all Pioneers in an online article
  • Connection with BNY Mellon employees for expert guidance and support
  • Consideration for Ashoka Fellows selection pipeline
  • Invitation to participate on the Financial Wellbeing Final Event hosted in New York, in September 2018, including opportunities to network with other social innovators, funders and top BNY Mellon employees (travel costs not included).

4 Champions (Winners) are given all that Drivers and Pioneers receive, plus:

  • A $50,000 cash award for each Champion to support activities related to achieving the social impact goal of the program presented to the Ashoka BNY Mellon Unlocking Change
  • Featured representation in competition-related social media coverage
  • Personalized “point people” at Ashoka and BNY Mellon


Initiatives must:

  • Be headquartered and creating impact in the United States
  • Have already piloted their models and have initial evidence of impact.
  • Address how they are reaching underserved populations.
  • Have incorporated as a non-profit, for-profit, or hybrid organization, or have a fiscal sponsor


  • Only one application per initiative will be accepted.
  • Employees of BNY Mellon and their immediate family members are not eligible to participate.
  • Entrants must be over 18 years of age.

Evaluation criteria

The entries that will be most likely to receive funding include those that fulfill the following criteria:

  • Innovation: Leading entries have an original, ground-breaking idea, which might involve inventing something new, or applying existing approaches in new ways or to a new context. We are particularly interested in models that use fresh approaches to unlock systemic change or to spark mindset shifts that lead to widespread change.
  • Impact: Leading entries are demonstrating how to make a difference in expanding financial wellbeing to underserved communities through qualitative or quantitative information.
  • Sustainability: Leading entries have realistic plans for how to continue to create impact in the long-term through mobilizing resources such as funding, financing, teams, partnerships, or support networks.


Entries must be submitted by the entry deadline: 5:00 PM EST on June 13, 2018. You may continue to edit and modify your entry up until this deadline.

To access and/or enter the Challenge, go here.

For more information, visit Unlocking ¢hange Challenge.