The Cause The wellbeing of communities and credit unions depends on the wellbeing of their members. Financial stability is at the core of the 2015 THINK Prize Challenge, focused on helping to increase the potential to thrive. Still, many potential members aren’t connected with the basic financial services, educational resources and dedicated support they need to make a choice that leads to better financial health and stronger communities. Other factors that lead to a lack of financial empowerment include feeling challenged by navigating complex systems, diminished trust in financial institutions and a stigma around discussing money. The Idea CO-OP Financial Services partnered with MasterCard and OpenIdeo to harness the online community’s collective strengths and help create economic empowerment through crowd-sourced innovation. The THINK Prize challenge for 2015 was broadened to welcome more diverse ideas from all over the world to get as much input, ideas, research and collaboration as this huge challenge deserves. What’s happened so far When OpenIDEO uses human-centered design to tackle a big topic like financial empowerment, they start with research because it allows them to dig deep into the issue, understand more about what’s working and what isn’t, and build empathy for the people it affects. During the Financial Empowerment Challenge Research phase, OpenIDEO used approaches like interviewing, sharing personal stories, observing the models and systems that are already out there, and finding creative ways of putting ourselves in other people’s shoes. This helped the team experience the issue from all angles and uncover patterns and themes that could shed light on the places participants really need to focus on when they start brainstorming solutions. Ideas are pouring in Once the research phase was finalized, the global community was invited to share ideas to overcome the challenge. This phase remains open until April 28—and credit unions are encouraged to join in—especially since they bring a financial services perspective many community members may not have. Initial ideas shared on OpenIDEO range from a Financial Overview Kit, an innovative savings card to public libraries as financial literacy hubs. Credit unions can help to add more perspective based in their community roots, vision and expertise in serving the underserved. A few more days left to add ideas Ideas will continue to be gathered until Tuesday, April 28. After that date, the global community shares suggestions and comments on next steps to help solve the challenge and empower the powerless. Everyone deserves access to the knowledge and resources that lead to better financial futures. “The only use of an obstacle is to be overcome. All that an obstacle does with brave men is, not to frighten them, but to challenge them.” – Woodrow Wilson The world of financial services was challenged by the THINK Prize. The credit union industry will help to answer the challenge.