Frontier Communications wanted to deepen their ties to the communities they serve across the U.S, and to push beyond typical donation models into authentic relationships with individuals making these towns the great places they are.
A prize challenge designed to shed light on the good works going on in local communities and a program to support what's working beyond the initial award.
“We launched America’s Best Communities to inspire innovation and foster sustainable local growth, while driving increased investment here at home, in America’s emerging markets, our rural communities.
Frontier Communications Executive Chairman
America’s small towns and rural communities are struggling with economic and demographic changes that have had a profound impact on the quality of life for local residents. Recognizing these challenges, Frontier Communications, the largest rural telecommunications operator in the U.S., has launched a $10 million prize challenge to encourage communities to start economic revitalization projects for their own residents that would also provide inspiration and a roadmap for others to do the same. For Frontier, a company with strong connections to small towns across America, the challenge became an opportunity to promote economic development, strengthen community relationships and enhance brand awareness. The America’s Best Community Prize Challenge is open to populations between 9,500 and 80,000 in the 27 states where Frontier serves.
Context Partners was asked to design, launch and help administer the prize for Frontier and its sponsorship partners, DISH and CoBank. To determine local needs and how a challenge might be structured, we spoke with residents, business owners, local government agencies, economic development councils and chambers of commerce in small towns across the country. From Coos Bay, Oregon to Morgantown, West Virginia and Muskegon, Michigan, we heard why people love their small towns: the schools and small businesses, activities for kids and social events, and the natural beauty of the surrounding the area. Moreover, it was clear that great communities needed to transcend politics and interests to achieve a common goal, be it revitalizing their downtown or creating new facilities or programs despite shrinking public and private budgets.
Before submitting an application to the multi-stage, three-year prize, the community must first come together and define what makes their community great – and then identify how they want to make it greater. To aid this process, Context Partners created a community revitalization toolkit that helps individuals and groups refine, improve and manage their entries, and also target potential funding sources if they fall out of the competition. After several rounds of judging three winners will be chosen for a total of $6 million in prize money, with Context Partners steering implementation, selection and community support.
The America’s Best Communities Prize Challenge was designed to help make hometowns more vibrant and resilient. Frontier will broaden its market reach, deepen trust with their customers, and boost economic vitality in its core market. Other small towns will learn about what their neighbors are doing as communities document the challenge process. Whether they win a prize or not, communities across the country will be able to start conversations about economic development and how to make their communities a better place to live.
The prize has attracted national media from CNBC, The Weather Channel and others.