IDEAS encourages anyone with an innovative approach to tackling community development challenges to share your idea and use the IDEAS Competition as a vehicle for implementation. Use our "Submit Project " form to get started. Proposed prects will be posted here.
Please note, to be eligible to enter the IDEAS Competition your solution to any of the challenges listed on this page must be both innovative and feasible.
MicroLoan Foundation Microfinance Challenge
Project Title: Addressing key challenges confronting microlending in the developing world
The Microfinance Challenge will involve the MIT community and other Boston-area students in poverty alleviation first-hand by proposing practical innovations and implementable solutions to address the key challenges confronting microlending in the developing world.
There are approximately three billion poor people (equal to about 600 million poor households) around the world living on less than $2 per day. All the microfinance institutions currently can only serve 100 million poor households. Technology- and business-based innovations are needed to help bridge the gap between the demand and where the industry currently stands.
Potential projects could include, but should not be limited to:
- Create a microfinance model that will facilitate sustainable and long-term growth of businesses.
- How will you create sustainable loaning institutions in developing areas, that are run by locals and not be foreign NGOs?
- Develop technology (hardware or software) that will help a business owner in a developing country keep track of their finances and maintain a business.
In the Spring of 2009 a Microfinance Symposium will take place at whichleaders in microfinance and development will speak at MIT. Students who are submitting projects to the Microfinance Challenge will be able to receive feedback before the April 15th IDEAS competition deadline.
To get involved, pick up information about IDEAS at the MIT Public Service Center, attend the January 15, 2009 IDEAS Generator lunch on January 15th, and join MLF for the Spring symposium.
Project Topic: ILN Rigor Meter
Project Title: "Calibrating Rigor in the Urban High School Classroom"
My idea is to develop an inexpensive technological tool that will enable students, teachers, and admininistrators determine the level of critical thinking that is expected of students. While this tool could be prove beneficial to students all around the world, I am most interested in the persistent achievement and access gaps in America (urban / rural v. suburban, Black / Hispanic v. White / Asian). These disparties do not bode well for a thriving democracy.
Although American is experiencing an economic crisis now, it may pale in comparison to what we experience in the future if there is no collective vision and strategy for how to address the challenges of urban education. Although there are many challenges that face students and educators in Urban school districts, one of the greatest is the level of rigor of the curriculum and instruction in the urban districts in comparison to their suburban and international peers. Generally speaking, students in America's cities and rural communities can expect far less challenging work than their peers in suburban and international peers. At the high school level, the lack of rigor and relevant curriculum leads to disengaged students who eventually drop out of school, which leads to America's dropout crisis. http://dropoutnation.net/?m=200809
I propose developing a tool to help systematize the level of rigor in classrooms in a school and eventually schools in a district. The tool would use Bloom's Taxonomy as the framework guiding students through engaging intellectual pursuits. Use of the tool will require intensive, embedded training for teachers in its use. But eventually would become a tool that could enhance teacher learning communities where professional learn and adapt.
Although I am an employee in the Boston Public Schools, I am not submitting this request on behalf of the district. I am also a doctoral student at Harvard Graduate School of Education, and my doctoral research is focused on urban high school instructional improvement.
Info on interests/skills sought:
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