Change Machine and the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge: Building a More Equitable Economy Together

By Mae Watson Grote| Founder & CEO| The Financial Clinic



Change Machine, The Financial Clinic’s social enterprise for financial coaching and wealth-building strategies, was built on the idea that we can amplify our impact and advance the field by building a high performing community of practice. Financial insecurity is pervasive across social and human service sectors, and often stymies organizations from fully completing its mission. We believed that if a platform existed that allowed practitioners to integrate financial coaching alongside case management, to share best practices across the field and use commonly adopted outcomes,  and to concurrently embed direct services with the training and curriculum necessary to sustain the work at the organizational level, an innovative approach to poverty alleviation was possible. We launched publicly nearly three years ago with the vision of scaling financial security strategies for the nonprofit sector.

We are pleased to announce that Change Machine has been selected as a finalist for the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy’s Inclusive Innovation Challenge, joining a group of esteemed innovators and change-agents committed to leveraging technology as a force for good towards an economy guided by principles of equity and opportunity for all.  The Challenge aims to award over one million dollars in prizes to “Inclusive Innovators,” entrepreneurs around the world using technology to reinvent the future of work and create shared prosperity.  We are deeply honored that the selection committee sees in Change Machine the potential to create such lasting impact.

We cannot fully articulate the excitement and humility we feel to have been chosen as a finalist for this competition, regardless of the final outcome.  We built this comprehensive software platform determined not merely to advance our field, but to accelerate the impact of our field when streamlined into a user-friendly product motivated by a singular purpose: help those on the platform and the people being served by those on the platform reach their financial goals. For thought leaders and independent evaluators from MIT  to recognize Change Machine’s potential to innovate at scale.

We also know, and appreciate what it means to have the “MIT seal of approval.”  As finalists, we join past winners and engineers of social progress like LaunchCode, a 2017 grand prize winner that provides free accelerated software development training that places graduates in paid internships aimed at transitioning them into full-time software development positions. Or SkillSmart, a 2017 winner that leverages technology to assist job seekers in sharpening their skills and identifying action plans for the areas most in need of improvement, and most in demand from employers.  To sit alongside these and countless other steadfast leaders to collectively advance our ability to tap into human potential is a distinction that, regardless of the final outcome, we as an organization will forever be grateful.

We’ll be traveling to Detroit to the next round of the Challenge and are bringing with us the motivation to make the case that building financial security is just the beginning.  Together, we will create a future guided by equity and inclusion, and accelerated by technology and community of practice. This spirit of community will be applied to the Challenge:  regardless of who wins, we look forward to amplifying their impact, drawing from their expertise, and looking to a future of collaboration towards ameliorating barriers to opportunity.

See you in Detroit!