The Reconstruct Challenge is a prize competition testing innovative solutions that solve social and economic inefficiencies.
There is a lack of coordination and innovation to solve system-level, community problems and there is a need for a process that allows a normalized assessment for rigorous trials (ability to screen multiple applicants on complex issues). Through a challenge structure, we can use theory and strategy like free-market exchange (through the use of cash rewards) to create local and global incentives to solve challenging problems.
High-impact, high-risk solutions face barriers in receiving capital because of inherent risk but if we can figure out a more scientific approach to supporting innovation, we can surface and support interventions that may otherwise experience “failure to launch” simply because they lack the right connections to capital to make it possible.
Through a reverse pitch structured competition, we desire to both unearth innovation and support it’s early growth in critical ways while simultaneously proving early-stage risk capital should be a vital part of every portfolio if we truly desire change.
Across the nation, only 35 affordable and available rental homes exist for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. It is impossible to look at this stat and deny the fact that we have an affordable housing crisis in our country. But a shortage of livable units is only one part of the problem. Many individuals struggling with housing insecurity are not lacking a unit but rather the ability to make payments. Ancillary costs associated with housing, such as transportation, utilities, financing costs, food insecurity, and more can often be the tipping point that pushes someone into a situation that is untenable. Systems that are intended to help low-income families often end up making it more expensive to be poor. Broken systems leave room for innovation, and it’s about time these systems are reworked, reconstructed, in order to serve the people they were designed to serve.
It’s expensive to be poor in America, that’s why we launched the 2019 Reconstruct Challenge to address housing insecurity and the ancillary costs that keep people living in the cycle of poverty.
Broken systems leave room for innovation, and it’s about time these systems are reworked, reconstructed, in order to serve the people they were designed to serve.
The Reconstruct Challenge to address housing affordability was a $3 million national prize competition to identify and fund innovations that decrease these ancillary costs for households on the brink of homelessness. The Reconstruct Challenge was the result of a BetaLab project with a family foundation that wanted to explore innovative approaches to solve for homelessness and housing insecurity.We granted $300,000 to six recipients, as well as provided some additional non-financial benefits towards their implementation. Recipients have an 18-month proof-of-concept phase where they will put their ideas to work in the Louisville and Southern Indiana region. Additionally, we recognize new ideas often lack access to capital to continue to scale as they prove out their new concepts. After this initial phase, these six recipients will have the opportunity to apply for follow-on capital. We have reserved $1 million for this purpose and the exact amounts and structure will be determined based upon proven success, impact, need, and use.