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High-profile Catholic competition announces winners of 2020

By Katie Ascough - 06 September, 2020

Credit: Eden Invitation

The OSV Institute has awarded three $100,000 prizes to Catholic Sprouts, Eden Invitation and Juan Diego Network in the culmination of a year-long international innovation challenge designed to incubate project ideas that will make a profound impact on the Church and the world. 

Demo Day, the day on which the final 12 contestants presented their ideas to judges and the public, was hosted virtually and attended by more than 400 people, including fellow entrepreneurs, investors, mentors, Catholic thought leaders and many supportive family members and friends. A total of 12 finalists presented their final pitches to a panel of expert judges followed by the long-awaited announcement of the three winning organisations.

“I am proud, inspired and hopeful,” said Jason Shanks, President of OSV Institute at the conclusion of Demo Day. “I am proud of these three winners who, for almost a year, have worked extremely hard over multiple stages to get to this point. I am most hopeful for the future of the Church and am already looking forward to the next round of innovative ideas in the OSV Innovation Challenge 2021!”

The first winner announced was Catholic Sprouts, who won on behalf of their Domestic Church Project, a six-week in-home experience to help parents set up and live in their own domestic church. With content designed to engage the hearts of each family member, the initiative gives parents the system and support to teach the faith through story-based audio content, parent training videos, a family manual and a parent guide book. “Being part of the OSV Innovation Challenge has changed our lives!” expressed Nancy Bandzuch, founder of Catholic Sprouts. “This experience has put us in touch with the larger Catholic world, a world that is filled with hope and truth. We are honoured and humbled to be chosen as recipients of the innovation grant,” continued Bandzuch. “We will use these funds and these connections to work tirelessly to build domestic churches!”

Catholic Sprouts was founded in 2018 to help Catholic parents become the primary educators of their child’s faith and thus build and lead their own domestic church. Their free daily podcast has been downloaded more than two million times. Watch their event pitch and learn more about Catholic Sprouts at their website.

The second winner announced was Eden Invitation, a movement for young adult Catholics experiencing same-sex desires and gender discordance to thrive as disciples within the Church. They were awarded the investment prize to support their Hearth & Porch Initiative which fosters local hubs for community and formation in cities and dioceses around the US and to create evangelistic testimony videos to support and attract new people to their ministry. “This prize is more than money,” shared Anna Carter, co-founder of Eden Invitation. “It’s validation that people wrestling with same-sex desires and gender discordance are seen, heard and valued by the Church. We’re incredibly grateful to the OSV Institute, Catholic Creatives, the judges, the Notre Dame Idea Center and all of our advisors for equipping us to successfully bring our vision to the next level!”

Eden Invitation invites people “onto the porch and into the hearth” to find community and discover a lifelong love of Christ and the beautiful plan He has for their lives. One Demo Day attendee commented, “Eden Invitation is the only reason I’m still in the Church.” Another participant noted, “People don’t realise what this means to our community. We are not forgotten. We are loved by the Church and Hearth & Porch will now be able to welcome more people into the beauty of a relationship with Christ and into the joy of a community of Christian friendship.” Those who wish to learn more can view Eden Invitation’s event pitch or visit their website.

The third and final winner was the Juan Diego Network (JDN) which creates, produces and distributes programs with fresh content to evangelise, form and entertain different segments and niches of Latinos around the world. “With this prize and the money that comes with it, we will be able to create and produce new podcasts of different formats, styles, durations and content that focus on specific niches of Latinos, the largest growing portion of the Church in the US,” said José Manuel De Urquidi, founder and CEO of JDN. “We expect to reach 500,000 monthly listeners by Spring 2021 and continue partnering with organisations and brands so we can fulfil our mission to evangelise, form and entertain Latinos, who have traditionally been underserved or have no access to attractive and professionally produced content.”

The mission of JDN is to help Latino authors, speakers and influencers focus on what they were called to do – create content – and not have to contend with technical and financial barriers. “Thanks to the OSV Innovation Challenge, we are now able to reach out to Catholic entities that have never done anything to really engage the Latino community, apart from just translating their website or adding subtitles to a video and help them really connect with Hispanics,” stated De Urquidi. JDN also works as the Hispanic Focus department of ministries, schools and dioceses that want to connect with Latinos. Learn more by watching JDN’s event pitch or visit their website.

“I am proud of the OSV team and partners who successfully completed our first Innovation Challenge,” reiterated Shanks. “I am inspired by these game-changing ideas and even more inspired by these innovators and pioneers.”

The idea for the Challenge was co-authored by OSV Institute and Catholic Creatives, a movement of Catholic designers, filmmakers, photographers, creative thinkers, artists, entrepreneurs and others working to bring the gospel to the world in fresh, beautiful ways. Not only did OSV Institute pledge the initial three $100,000 prizes, they also sponsored a 10-week Notre Dame IDEA Center Accelerator Program for the 12 finalists, which integrated a custom curriculum for entrepreneurs, spiritual formation and personalised coaching from world-class Catholic leaders.

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