Eight UpPrize finalists—representing for-profit companies tackling a social challenge—have been selected, as announced by BNY Mellon and The Forbes Funds.

UpPrize is a social innovation challenge sponsored by BNY Mellon, BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania and The Forbes Funds, designed to help nonprofits in southwestern PA. The goal is to connect Pittsburgh-based entrepreneurs and innovators–the people who will compete for the prize money—with the region’s nonprofits and the people they serve.

The finalists will pitch their ideas to a panel of nationally-recognized judges on July 31 at the New Hazlett Theater for an opportunity to win $800,000 in the competition. The winner will be announced live that evening. UpPrize will ultimately award $1 million in grants, investments and technical assistance.

The eight finalists are:

Application Verification: Led by John R. Gregg, Application Verification has years of experience expediting and simplifying the employment screening process for a wide variety of employers. PA Act 153 ProVerify aims to streamline the volunteer screening process for nonprofits and their volunteers as they comply with stricter requirements established by the recently passed Pennsylvania Act 153. Video: https://vimeo.com/124853847

Conversant Labs: Led by Chris Maury, an entrepreneur who founded the company when he received a diagnosis of a degenerative eye disease, Conversant seeks to dramatically improve the quality of life for the visually impaired. The company’s voice-enabled applications provide consumer quality access to modern technologies for everyone. Video: http://youtu.be/7iHFXzluRoI

Five Star Development: Led by Dave Colaizzi and Lou Camerlengo, Five Star has been creating low-cost, high-value software tools since the ’90s. Their Online Intake and Referral Tool provides area nonprofits with a personalized system for client intake and service orientation, with a view to saving significant staff time and organizational resources. Video: https://youtu.be/tR9KmWxN6NM

Marinus Analytics: Led by Carnegie Mellon University alumna Emily Kennedy, Marinus Analytics creates investigative machine-learning based software designed to enable nonprofit victims’ services organizations, criminal intelligence centers and law enforcement agencies to find and prevent instances of human trafficking. What began as the founder’s thesis project has grown into a popular service used in cities across North America. Video:  https://youtu.be/ITjSPd6peTc

PathVu: When local entrepreneur Eric Sinagra saw the difficulty his brother faced navigating Pittsburgh’s sidewalks using a wheelchair, he brought together a team to do something about it. PathVu combines their proprietary high-resolution data collection hardware with the power of crowdsourcing to create a system designed to identify a safe path for everyone. Video: https://youtu.be/HpdODKKSaFQ

PHRQL and CHS Food Pantry: A local startup and nonprofit have partnered to improve quality of life and reduce health care costs for at-risk populations by improving diet and nutrition through food access, technology and coaching. Spearheaded by Paul Sandberg of PHRQL and Trevor Smith of Community Human Services, this partnership brings PHRQL’s proven technology to those who need it most. Video: https://vimeo.com/125057571

Reuse Retail: Led by Tad Hale, Reuse Retail seeks to increase reuse and surplus distribution of nonstandard or donated goods. Developed with Construction Junction, the unique tool facilitates the acquisition, management and distribution of reusable but nonstandard goods, with a view to expediting daily activities for a variety of service organizations. Video: https://vimeo.com/124854435

Treatspace, Inc.: Founded by Rick Cancelliere in 2012, Treatspace uses new technology to address the staggering 70 percent of health care referrals ignored by patients. The company’s relationship management software allows primary care providers to send electronic referrals directly to the specialists their patients need to see and reviews patient feedback, with the goal of ensuring better health outcomes. Video: https://youtu.be/-Eb3suoM6ZI

“UpPrize, our social innovation challenge, is designed to harness the creativity and passion of local innovators to address the most pressing issues in the nonprofit community by providing innovative financing and support that delivers both social and financial returns,” said Kenya Boswell, president, BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern PA, in a press release. “This hybrid approach to community investment and innovation enables us to support creative and impactful solutions for nonprofits that address pressing societal challenges.”

For more information and to register for the event, click here.

The staff at NEXTpittsburgh writes about the people driving change in the region and the innovative and cool things happening here.