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Horizon Foundation and United Way of Central Maryland Launch Third Changemaker Challenge 

Four prizes totaling $60,000 will be awarded in Howard County to burgeoning leaders using innovative ideas to impact their communities 

Columbia, MD (July 1, 2021) – Today, the Horizon Foundation, United Way of Central Maryland, Women’s Giving Circle and Community Foundation of Howard County announced the launch of the third Changemaker Challenge in Howard County, focused on progressive thinkers who are ready to elevate, accelerate and activate their big ideas to make their communities even better. After an unprecedented year, the theme for the 2021 Changemaker Challenge in Howard County is Innovate. Cultivate. Uplift.  

Individuals, teams and nonprofit organizations are invited to pitch a big idea and have a chance to receive up to $35,000 in prize money. Ideas should focus on sustainable actions to help residents and communities recover from the pandemic and the inequities it exposed.  Howard County could benefit from fresh ideas that address issues like expanding equity, stable housing, access to healthy food, mental health, digital access, early childhood and youth education. 

“Now more than ever, our community needs innovative thinkers who are ready to make a big impact in Howard County,” said Franklyn Baker, president and CEO, United Way of Central Maryland. “Our recent COVID Impact Survey found that the top concerns during the pandemic have been mental health, child care and education, and housing. As an organization, we continue to work with communities and partners to find solutions – but it can’t end with us. Since the first Changemaker Challenge in 2017, we have awarded almost $100,000 to community members looking to address complex social issues, including supporting recovery from alcoholism with healthy alternatives, helping children from lower-income families access higher education and recreational sports opportunities, creating upcycled structures from recycled goods, spreading the word about Columbia’s Black freedom visionaries, and more.” 

 How does it work? 

  • If an idea is chosen, it will be presented to a live audience on November 9. 

  • Four grants totaling $60,000 will be given in the amounts of: $25,000, $15,000, and two $10,000 awards. The Women’s Giving Circle will sponsor one of the $10,000 awards, which will support women and girls in the area. Additionally, the audience will select who receives the $10,000 Audience Choice Award. 

“Growing philanthropy, engaging community, collective impact, social change, and big ideas – it’s what the Women’s Giving Circle believes in and why we are proud to support the Changemaker Challenge,” said Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz, Executive Director, Women’s Giving Circle.  

Howard County has a long history of tireless work by many individuals and organizations that have brought creative solutions to some of these pressing problems. The Changemaker Challenge is designed to spark and celebrate new and continued innovation in our community. Social innovation is a novel solution to a social problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than current solutions.  

“Changemaker Challenge has a tradition of bringing our community together to showcase the best outside-the-box social change innovation Howard County has to offer,” said Nikki Highsmith Vernick, president and CEO, Horizon Foundation. “We are excited to continue our partnership with other local philanthropic organizations to celebrate the grand ideas that will, no doubt, establish a lasting impact that will take us through COVID and well beyond.”  

Since 1998, the Horizon Foundation has invested $57 million in community programs, including grants to more than 300 organizations serving the county, from after-school programs to faith-based organizations to health care providers.   

United Way of Central Maryland makes the communities it serves, including Howard County, stronger. The organization works directly with families and individuals to keep them in their homes and out of shelters, with kids who are falling behind in school, and with people who need easier access to healthy food and jobs that pay the bills.  

Learn more about the Changemaker Challenge, including official rules, terms and conditions online at: 


Hosted by the Horizon Foundation and United Way of Central Maryland, the Changemaker Challenge is an event focused on sparking innovation and fresh thinking to address some of Howard County’s most pressing issues. 

Please see the Official Rules for the specific Terms and Conditions of the Changemaker Challenge.