Concept Stage (February – May 2022)


The concept stage is designed to gather as many ideas as possible, nurture them and foster cross-sector collaborations. Those who express interest in accepting the challenge are provided opportunities to connect with other organizations (from multiple sectors) and work together to further develop their ideas, learn about one another’s needs and develop partnerships to turn these Big Ideas into a reality together.


Over the course of the concept stage, teams are tasked with developing an idea that will truly improve Detroiters’ financial lives in a big way. For this challenge, a Big Idea must be:

  • New: The idea could be completely new, never-been-done anywhere before. It could be an idea that has been tried in another area of the country but would be new to Detroit. Or, it could be an idea that builds on something already happening in Detroit or elsewhere but reimagines or adds to that work in a new and inventive way.
  • Game-Changing: The financial deck is stacked against Detroiters. The idea should help un-stack that deck and rewrite the rules of the game so more Detroiters have a fairer chance to make ends meet and improve their financial situation.
  • Informed: The idea, although new, should be well-informed. Insights from research, community feedback and experiences with similar problems or approaches in different contexts will help give your idea the best chance of success.
  • Doable: Any new, game-changing idea is going to be a bit of a leap of faith. But it does need to be at least possible to implement. Think about what needs to go right for your idea to work and what might get in your way. If the idea is selected to move to the planning stage, the team will receive funding and support to test these assumptions and refine your plans.
  • Scalable: This challenge aims to support big ideas that will help lots of Detroiters achieve better financial lives. The idea should have a path to growth so that as many people as possible can benefit.
  • Equitable: The idea should help move the needle on economic equity in Detroit. That means it should help create an environment that makes it possible for people currently facing economic disadvantages to meaningfully improve their financial situation in lasting ways.


Before the teams can move forward with a formal application to join the challenge, they must first incorporate feedback from the Detroiters they seek to serve. Residents with first- and secondhand experience with financial instability in Detroit are asked to review the two-minute video pitches and share their thoughts. Why would (or wouldn’t) they benefit from the proposed program? What might make the program more accessible to others facing similar circumstances?

Check out the community-facing video pitches submitted by more than 30 teams.

At the conclusion of the concept stage, applicant teams submit a detailed concept proposal explaining their Big Idea. A review panel (consisting of representatives from United Way, University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions and the Detroit community with firsthand experience with financial instability) debate the strength of each Big Idea based upon the criteria listed above.


Ideas that meet the Big Idea criteria are invited to apply to the planning stage.

The following 19 teams were invited to apply for a planning stage grant (of up to $20,000 and continued technical assistance) to develop their plans further for implementation.

  • Bikes4Employees (Detroit Greenways Coalition, The Greenway Guy, Impact Detroit)
  • Detroit Black Worker Center (National Black Worker Center)
  • Collective Homeownership (Higher Ground Abodes, Kuumba Collective)
  • Community Investment Trusts (Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit, GenesisHOPE)
  • Cooley High School Neighborhood Investment Program (Life Remodeled)
  • Credit Escalator (GreenPath Financial Wellness, One Detroit Credit Union)
  • East Chadsey Condon Alliance (Southwest Economic Solutions Corporation)
  • Family Mobility Savings (Communities First)
  • Functional Sentencing (Street Democracy)
  • Home Repair Clearinghouse (Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit, Gilbert Family Foundation, Rocket Community Fund)
  • Partnership for Economic Independence 3.0 (Eastside Community Network)
  • Passport to Self-Sufficiency (Coalition on Temporary Shelter, Cinnaire)
  • Pitchtape for Small Business & Underrepresented Entrepreneurs (Pitchtape)
  • Redefining Re-Entry (Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency, City of Detroit Financial Empowerment Center)
  • Shared Equity Homeownership (GenesisHOPE, MACC Development, Doing Development Differently in Metro Detroit)
  • Solar Power for Detroiters (Manistique Community Treehouse Center, Bailey Park Neighborhood Development Corporation, Matrix Human Services, Fifth Third Bank, Yorkshire Woods, Eden Gardens Community Association)
  • Sure:D (The Heat and Warmth Fund)
  • Urban Equity Fund (Urban League of Detroit & Southeastern Michigan)
  • Warrendale Equity Investment Fund (The International Institute of Metro Detroit, Warrendale Community Organization, Islamic Center of Detroit, Warren Avenue Community Organization, Greenview Block Club, Evergreen Block Club, Second Grace United Methodist Church)

Learn about the Planning Stage.

Learn about the overall Challenge history, purpose, and timeline.

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