J.M.K. Innovation Prize

Funding Agency:
J.M. Kaplan Fund

The J.M.K. Innovation Prize seeks to identify, support, and elevate innovators who are spearheading transformative early-stage projects in the fields of social justice, the environment, and heritage conservation.

In 2021, we will award up to ten Prizes, each including a cash award of $150,000 over three years, plus $25,000 in technical assistance funds, for a total award of $175,000. Awardees also receive guidance through the Fund and its resource network, providing tools and training that can help turn innovative ideas into life-changing social impacts.

Deadline: Apr. 30, 2021

Agency Website

Areas of Interest


In recent years, America has been reshaped by seismic social and environmental forces. Efforts to dismantle democratic institutions have struck at the bedrock values of our nation. A worldwide pandemic has laid bare deeply-rooted inequities. And communities from coast to coast have been upended by growing climate impacts. These compounding crises—affecting communities both rural and urban, from historically underrepresented voters to undocumented immigrant farmworkers—have forced social-impact organizations to reimagine how they respond to systemic societal challenges. In short, we need social innovators like we never have before.

The J.M.K. Innovation Prize was made for moments like this. Since 2015, over three biennial Prize cycles, we’ve reached across the country to support thirty wildly creative social and environmental initiatives, ranging from neighborhood-led youth justice councils to researchers using wastewater to pinpoint COVID-19 hot spots. Leveraging a legacy of catalytic grant-making at The J.M. Kaplan Fund, the Prize seeks out visionary non-profit and mission-driven for-profit organizations that work within, across, or in a manner related to one or more of the Fund’s three program areas:

  • Social Justice: Buttressing democracy, voter education, and reforms to the criminal justice and immigration systems.
  • The Environment: Slowing the pace of climate change and mitigating climate impacts.
  • Heritage Conservation: Conserving the places that communities care about most.

Eligibility Requirements

Individuals or teams representing non-profit or for-profit organizations are eligible to apply for the 2021 J.M.K. Innovation Prize. The Prize will be awarded to projects or ideas that:

  • represent a game-changing answer to a clearly identified need;
  • are innovative within one or more of the Fund’s three program areas;
  • demonstrate the potential to develop an actionable pilot or prototype with Prize funding; and
  • hold out the promise to benefit multiple individuals, communities, or sectors through a clearly articulated theory of change.

Following review of first-round submissions, select applicants will be invited to submit a more detailed second-round application in late spring. Finalists will present their ideas to the trustees of The J.M. Kaplan Fund in the fall, with awardees formally announced in November 2021.



Funding Type





Arts & Humanities
Community Outreach and Engagement
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

April 30, 2021