The philanthropic social initiative is accepting up to 4,000 submissions through March 23 and will distribute 40 $25,000 grants.
In part because it has likened itself to a good neighbor in its jingle for decades, insurance company State Farm has launched Neighborhood Assist 2014, a philanthropic social voting initiative that returned for its third year on March 3. What is different this time, however, is that there is more of an emphasis on mobile to connect users with the charities closest to them.
State Farm is running the Neighborhood Assist Facebook app in partnership with advertising agency DDB Chicago.
According to DDB, the program leverages the online community to crowdsource issues that are meaningful to consumers and their neighborhoods.
Users can submit issues to State Farm's Youth Advisory Board, or YAB, via the Neighborhood Assist tab on State Farm's Facebook page.
According to Joe Cianciotto, chief digital officer at DDB, the YAB consists of 30 college students.
State Farm says YAB participants hail from the U.S. and Canada and serve two-year terms with a directive to implement a $5 million-a-year service-learning initiative to address issues important to youth and communities.
To suggest a cause to Neighborhood Assist 2014, users must describe a need in the community, as well as how $25,000 would address the unmet need and how much of a lasting impact the cause would have in 1,000 characters apiece.
Nominations will be accepted until March 23. The YAB will then review all submissions and select 200 finalists.
As of March 4, 3,737 submission spots remained out of a total possible 4,000 submissions.
An online voting period follows the YAB selection from April 28 to May 17. Consumers can vote up to 10 times per day on the top 200 causes. In addition, Cianciotto says users can share causes on Facebook to encourage votes.
The winners will be announced on May 27. The 40 causes with the most votes will receive $25,000 grants.
According to the app, Neighborhood Assist seeks to improve communities in three ways: education, community development, and safety.
Previous winners include: The Tool Library in West Bloomington, Illinois, which supports revitalization efforts by giving homeowners knowledge and tools to improve housing conditions; Training the Future, which develops workforce training and leadership opportunities for motivated, under-resourced teens in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; and Kids Helping Kids, a food assembly and packaging project in Melbourne, Florida, that provides hungry children with healthy food when school is not in session.
According to DDB, 3,000 causes were submitted in 17 days for Neighborhood Assist 2013, which resulted in 3.4 million votes, or about triple the number of votes from the previous year.
"I think for us why this is really important is it's about empowering not only the local community, but giving people the chance to benefit their communities and neighborhoods," Cianciotto says. "State Farm isn't just a neighbor, it's about empowering others to be a good neighbor for the issues that are the most important to them locally."
In addition, NBA player Chris Paul, who stars in State Farm commercials along with his fake twin State Farm agent Cliff, and select NBA teams will tweet about the program, DDB says.
@StateFarm has 48,000 followers. Chris Paul has 3 million.
@CliffPaul has 31,000 followers.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
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