Kenya Boswell

One of the first major projects for Kenya Boswell in her new role as president of BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, is UpPrize. Along with sponsor The Forbes Funds, UpPrize is a $1 million competition among Pittsburgh-based entrepreneurs and innovators to create solutions that will help nonprofits and the people they serve.

It may seem like a daunting mission, but Boswell is up to the task and excited to see the impact of “purpose-driven innovation” – the ability to apply the technological expertise in our region to the nonprofit sector.

“It sort of ripples down to my other interests with youth workforce development, with women’s issues and things of that nature as well,” she says.

The UpPrize competition is free to enter and the deadline to apply is 5 p.m., April 15, 2015. Don’t miss the UpPrize networking event this Tuesday, March 24th!

What was the inspiration for UpPrize?  

It was a collaborative idea between us and The Forbes Funds. BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern PA and The Forbes Funds were looking for ways to identify some common pain points that we have witnessed though our respective philanthropy programs in the nonprofit sector that could be addressed through the use of technology. Codefest (last month’s app-building contest to improve city living) was just one example. And because of the success of Codefest it was really an opportunity to bring it to scale. It’s what we’re calling catalytic philanthropy.

What do you hope for the future of UpPrize?

Our intention is to launch this pilot and really be able to tweak the model to demonstrate the greatest impact and bring it to scale. Success for us would be having the winning solution adopted and implemented at Pittsburgh nonprofits – that’s number one.

What does innovation mean to you?

Typically I think a lot of people look at innovation as needing a radical new idea or change. We look at it really as an opportunity to pivot some sort of existing product or idea to be able to actually create greater impact, particularly for the people it is intended to reach.

What’s the best thing going on in the city right now—besides UpPrize?

We’re looking at the energy and ability to crowdsource solutions in a community. We’re seeing this in a lot of different ways, whether it’s in a technology start-up or funders coming together to collaborate or it’s nonprofits coming together to collaborate. It’s this joint phenomenon of being able to crowdsource new solutions to some of our problems. It’s become more evident in the last three to five years.

Favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh and favorite restaurant?

My favorite thing is actually exploring our great city with my four-year-old, five-pound, Yorkie, Bentley.

My all-time favorite is Park Bruges in Highland Park. What I love about it is, for me living on the East End, I do not have to travel far for good quality food, great customer service. And I love the environment. I always have the opportunity to meet cool interesting people.

Laurie Bailey is a freelance writer who has reported for many local publications. When she isn't writing she serves as a media consultant for nonprofits and other local companies.