BNY Mellon and The Forbes Funds Announce Social Innovation Challenge Finalists

UpPrize Competitors Helping Pittsburgh’s Nonprofits Address Critical Needs
Jun 15, 2015 10:00 AM ET

PITTSBURGH, June 15, 2015 /3BL Media/ - UpPrize, the BNY Mellon Social Innovation Challenge, has selected eight finalists, who will pitch their ideas to a panel of nationally-recognized judges for an opportunity to win $800,000 in a competition that will ultimately award $1 million in grants, investments and technical assistance as part of BNY Mellon's strategic effort to address critical community and societal issues. UpPrize is a unique partnership between BNY Mellon, the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania and The Forbes Funds.

The public is invited to attend the UpPrize finale event, Friday, July 31 at the New Hazlett Theater where the finalists will pitch their ideas. The UpPrize winners will be announced live, on site. For more information and to register, visit

“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. “This hybrid approach to community investment and innovation enables us to support creative and impactful solutions for nonprofits that address pressing societal challenges.”

“Beyond the direct support provided to its local communities, BNY Mellon has a long history of collaborating with nonprofits and philanthropic organizations to advance innovative approaches that deliver positive change,” said Ian Stewart, chairman, BNY Mellon of Pennsylvania. “UpPrize exemplifies and spotlights the deep well of innovation, creativity and collaboration in the Pittsburgh region.”

“By combining the efforts of entrepreneurs and nonprofits, as in UpPrize, we will be better able to meet the needs of our community,” said Kate Dewey, president, The Forbes Funds. “The UpPrize finalists are tackling important problems including hunger, accessibility, human trafficking, and health, and creating products to improve how nonprofits service and enhance the quality of life for their clients.”

These eight UpPrize finalists represent for-profit companies that are working to address a social challenge:

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:

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:

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:

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: 

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:

PHRQL and CHS Food Pantry: A local start-up and nonprofit have partnered to improve quality of life and reduce healthcare 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:

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:

Treatspace, Inc.: Founded by Rick Cancelliere in 2012, Treatspace uses new technology to address the staggering 70 percent of healthcare 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:

Sponsored by the BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania and conducted with The Forbes Funds, UpPrize links the private sector with the Pittsburgh region’s nonprofits for the purpose of identifying break-through innovations to address critical needs and service gaps, while also producing meaningful and measurable financial benefits. Researched with the assistance of more than 100 local nonprofit organizations, UpPrize connects innovators to a market of service providers that are hungry for innovation with a positive social impact. The 2015 UpPrize received more than 100 applications from talented Pittsburgh-area entrepreneurs. Leading up to the selection of the eight finalists, 20 semi-finalists met with the Challenge’s judges and advisers for in-person interviews. UpPrize judges represent local and national leaders from a variety of sectors, including nonprofit, for-profit, government, and the investment community.


BNY Mellon is a global investments company dedicated to helping its clients manage and service their financial assets throughout the investment lifecycle. Whether providing financial services for institutions, corporations or individual investors, BNY Mellon delivers informed investment management and investment services in 35 countries and more than 100 markets. As of March 31, 2015, BNY Mellon had $28.5 trillion in assets under custody and/or administration, and $1.7 trillion in assets under management. BNY Mellon can act as a single point of contact for clients looking to create, trade, hold, manage, service, distribute or restructure investments. BNY Mellon is the corporate brand of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (NYSE: BK). Additional information is available on, or follow us on Twitter @BNYMellon.

BNY Mellon offers a wide range of products and services that help mainstream investors meet their return/risk goals while considering the environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact of their investments. Learn more about social finance at BNY Mellon, here.

The Forbes Funds builds the management capacity and impact of community-based nonprofits individually and collectively. A supporting organization of the Pittsburgh Foundation, The Forbes Funds has more than 30 years of experience in providing technical assistance, research, and leadership to advance a more effective and sustainable nonprofit sector. Additional information is available at, or on Twitter @theforbesfunds and @UpPrize.