Tech Tools for Social Good

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Tech Tools for Social Good

June 2021

Our UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge, Powered by Innovation Works is bridging the gap between aspiring entrepreneurs and critical social needs.

Far too many cash-strapped families in America are just one small financial crisis away from falling into the chaos of homelessness and entanglement with social services agencies. Pittsburgh-based child welfare administrator Kim Eckel had seen it happen too many times and was convinced there must be better way to help families avoid engaging with child protective services. So, she developed it herself. Working nights and weekends, the mother of three conceived of a technology platform that would quickly channel donations from individuals, corporations and foundations directly to families along with referrals and help from health care and social services professionals.


Her innovative solution, Footbridge for Families, won the $150,000 first place award in the 2020 UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge sponsored by the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania. A year later, Kim has brought her concept to life serving over fifty families while further refining the organization’s business process and technology.  The organization is poised for significant growth this summer through its new partnership with UPMC Children’s Primary Care Centers and the addition of a Chief Operating Officer.  

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Bolstered by a boot camp, funding and mentoring, tech startups are creating tools to improve lives.

Kim is just one of many aspiring entrepreneurs who have advanced their dreams through UpPrize. Since the challenge was launched in 2015, BNY Mellon has awarded more than $2.5 million in investments, grants and technical assistance since its inception. It is UpPrize's mission to create impactful technology that improves nonprofit service delivery, and the lives and experiences of people in the southwestern Pennsylvania region. Through funding, mentorship and training, the challenge helps individuals, nonprofits and startup companies — including many from underrepresented communities — hone their business and technical skills.


In the most recent competition, more than 200 applicants submitted a prototype product, tool or service with a tech component. In an entrepreneurial boot camp, ten semi-finalists learned the fundamentals of introducing their concept to the public and five finalists received a $10,000 grant to help make their dreams a reality. Finalists then pitched their ideas to a panel of local judges for an opportunity to secure additional grants totaling $300,000. 

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