“We seek to cultivate brave spaces rather than safe spaces.” Arao and Clemens (2013)
At Redwoods, we spend a lot of time talking about safety. And safety is important. However, for this year’s innovation challenge, we want to talk about being bold—which is at least as important to our communities in a couple of ways:
First, if we want to drive change faster and more effectively in the future than we are today, we have to continue to try new things, which means being courageous and willing to tackle challenges, even when it’s uncomfortable. The innovation process—of developing, testing and learning from new ideas and new ways of working—is essential to creating a future that’s closer to the vision we have for our communities than where we are today. But with innovation also comes risk, because trying new things and implementing new approaches means investing in efforts that might not work. If we play it safe and avoid being uncomfortable, then we lose out on the opportunities to find breakthrough solutions that open up greater possibilities for the communities we serve.
Second, tackling some of our deepest challenges effectively often requires taking brave steps to show up differently. As Arao & Clemens write in their chapter “From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces,” doing social justice work effectively “often requires the very qualities of risk, difficulty and controversy that are defined as incompatible with safety.” Disrupting a status quo that, on a daily basis, is safer for some than it is for others is a hard thing to do from within our comfort zones. Changing the conditions that are most challenging, sensitive and difficult to change often means taking unpopular stands, opening ourselves up to uncomfortable vulnerability, and questioning assumptions and traditions we’ve relied on.
For this year’s innovation challenge, we are looking for brave, innovative approaches that your organization is taking to change your community in new and important ways. The following suggested possibilities might help you narrow in on your proposal:
It’s important to note that we are looking for innovative approaches that are:
We will award up to four $25,000 prizes to innovative strategies focused on creating brave spaces.
Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:
The Innovation Challenge is open to Boys & Girls Clubs, Jewish Community Centers, Non-Profit and Certified B Corp Camps and YMCAs. Applicant organizations do not have to be a Redwoods customer, and customer status will not be a factor in the decision making process.
2018 Innovation Challenge Timeline
NOW: Begin thinking deeply about your innovative ideas to create brave spaces in your community.
Applications open: March 20-August 24
Finalists notified: by October 8
Awards announced: Week of October 22
For questions about the grant application forms or process, please contact: Robin Rennells,