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How might we use the power of communities to financially empower, educate and protect those who need it most?

It’s a big question. Now it’s up to you – and socially-minded THINKers everywhere – to collaborate on some big answers. This year, CO-OP and MasterCard are teaming up to expand the reach, scope and methodology of the annual CO-OP THINK Prize in order to spotlight big ideas about financial empowerment. For the first time, the $10,000 CO-OP THINK Prize will be shared by individuals who submit the best ideas via a new crowd-sourced process managed by OpenIDEO.

What is OpenIDEO? It originated with design consultancy IDEO, which applies design-thinking methodology to the innovation of new products, services and experiences. OpenIDEO’s online platform incorporates knowledge sharing, feedback and collaboration, so solutions generated on the platform benefit from rich input and insight from the greater community.

Although new ideas have always been the focus of CO-OP’s THINK Prize, this year’s emphasis on crowdsourcing and community-fueled innovation takes the competition to a new level. Where in years past the THINK Prize was open to credit union employees, this year’s challenge is open to people from all walks of life. The idea is to encourage new kinds of participation from inside and outside the credit union industry.

The process will be different as well. Participation takes place over a four-month period and will involve open sharing of perspectives and ideas during March and April; collaborative refinement of selected ideas in May and early June; and the announcement of top ideas on June 9. Depending on timing, ideas may be workshopped during the THINK 15 conference in early May.

Come THINK with us. Whether you have a perspective to share, an idea worth exploring, curiosity about what others are cooking up, or a yen to try a new collaborative innovation process firsthand, check out the THINK Prize page, “A Financial Empowerment Challenge,” on OpenIDEO.

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 To find out more about THINK 15, click here.