The OSV Challenge calls on Catholics everywhere to share their big ideas for the new evangelization.
The statistics on conversions are grim: The Catholic Church loses 6.5 people for every one who converts, with millennials leaving the Church at an unprecedented rate.
Those statistics don’t account for the Holy Spirit, of course. Christ promised the Church, “I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). But the Holy Spirit works through people and their ideas, and sometimes great ideas need a boost to make an incredible difference.
In that sense, you could say the OSV Institute is cooperating with the Holy Spirit through a new initiative. They’re on a mission to find and support ambitious, creative projects that will bring about meaningful, positive change in the Church and the world.
The OSV Challenge calls on Catholic entrepreneurs to submit their “napkin idea” for a chance to win $100,000 in support of their mission. OSV has just announced the reopening of application submissions for the 2021 Challenge. This multi-round entrepreneurial competition is designed to incubate unique project ideas, in any stage, from Catholics whose faith has motivated them to make a difference.
“The Church has always been at the forefront of great ideas—hospital systems, schools and universities, missions, shrines, and some of the greatest art known to man,” Shanks said. “The OSV Challenge is a search for Catholic innovators with world-changing ideas.”
With three prizes on the line valued at $100,000 each, OSV Institute for Catholic Innovation seeks to build up Catholic innovators with the professional guidance, spiritual formation, and personal development needed to accelerate initiatives that will make the biggest impact on the Church and the world.
“We are not aiming to fund the next good idea, but to invest in people—emerging innovators and seasoned trailblazers—by forming a new generation of entrepreneurs who are not afraid to relook at how we encounter and evangelize the truth and beauty of the Catholic Church,” said OSV Institute President Jason Shanks.
Last year’s Innovation Challenge was an incredible success: It received over 350 applicants who were narrowed down to 12 finalists. These 12 went through a rigorous 10-week Notre Dame IDEA Center Accelerator Program over the summer, ending with 3 winning projects. The program integrated a custom curriculum for entrepreneurs, spiritual formation, and personalized coaching from world-class Catholic leaders.
This year, there’s a new incentive for applicants. They can earn additional prizes as contestants advance through the various stages of the Challenge.
“We want to build an ecosystem of innovators, connecting their entrepreneurial ideas with philanthropists and investors in order to bring more people to Christ and benefit the entire world,” said OSV Institute Director of Strategic Alliances Matt Smith.
Those who leave the Church often cite a lack of vitality, beauty, and relatability in their parishes. With pews being further emptied as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, creative solutions have never been more important.
OSV Institute is calling for applications from inventors, artists, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and any layperson ready to unleash a world-changing idea. Funding areas of special interest include Hispanic Experience, Parents & Family, Catholic Education, Disaffiliation, Youth Ministry, Parish Life, Social Justice, Technology, and Creative Arts.
Applications open on February 1 and the window closes at 12:00 p.m. Eastern on April 2. The 2021 OSV Challenge will culminate with Demo Day on September 18, on which finalists have an opportunity to present their final pitches to a panel of expert judges and investors before the three winning initiatives are announced.
Prospective Challengers can learn more about the OSV Challenge and apply now at osvchallenge.com.