The newly announced matching grant from ECIC will help power the work of two outstanding teams. $4000 will go to Havenly, a food business and job and leadership training program for refugee women that won the prize competition in April, while $6000 will be granted to DreamKit, which leverages technology to create a city-wide ecosystem for supporting homeless youth and received the audience choice award during the prize competition.
“These two teams, selected by the judges and audience for the first New Haven Civic Innovation Prize, represent collaboration between Yale students and New Haven community members to address pressing social challenges,” says ECIC director Michael Harris. Through this grant, ECIC hopes to support the growth of social ventures in New Haven, both within and outside of the Yale community.
For the ventures, the funding will serve as a catalyst at a critical moment. In response to COVID-19 this spring, Havenly had to rapidly pivot and adjust plans like the opening of a new storefront; the Havenly team has now launched a food relief program, which aims to keep Havenly’s fellows employed while providing meals to vulnerable families in New Haven. Similarly, DreamKit has worked quickly to provide virtual resources and connection points for youth experiencing homelessness during the pandemic. The additional funding from ECIC will support essential next steps, allowing the DreamKit team to onboard more Youth Specialists (key team members who have direct lived experience with homelessness or housing insecurity in Connecticut) and expand their outreach strategy.
The grant reflects the ongoing growth of New Haven’s collaborative ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation. Building on the success of this year’s New Haven Civic Innovation Prize pilot at Yale and subsequent ECIC matching grant, the prize’s organizers hope to grow its scope next year, involving additional partners and opening the competition to student teams from across the community. The Havenly and DreamKit teams each work closely with a diverse range of local organizations and partners — and this focus on community collaboration will play a key role as these ventures work to expand their impact in the coming months.
The Elm City Innovation Collaborative is a recipient of the CTNext “Innovation Places” award, stewarding the local impact of state investment in New Haven’s innovation and entrepreneurship economies.
About the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize:
Launched in spring 2020 as part of Startup Yale, the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize is a $10,000 cash prize awarded to the best student-led venture, project, or policy focused on benefitting the city of New Haven. In late 2019, Mayor Elicker’s transition team conducted a series of public meetings, surveys, and stakeholder conversations to inform the city’s priorities, gathering input from hundreds of New Haven community members. The 2020 New Haven Civic Innovation Prize aimed to catalyze student-led innovations that address, and are informed by, these community priorities.
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