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Amazon customers to pick nonprofit winner

Retailer creates unusual approach to award by letting Amazon customers vote on winner by putting their money where their heart is.

Amazon.com announced on Tuesday a plan for rewarding nonprofit organizations for innovative ideas.

The online retailer has teamed up with the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford's Graduate School of Business for the program.

Amazon said the nonprofit organization selected will get a significant grant but that the actual amount will be decided by Amazon customers. Applications will be accepted through April 28.

Applications will be judged on criteria including need and urgency of a problem, innovation, a result-oriented approach and sustainability of innovation.

After the initial screening, the Center for Social Innovation will come up with a list of semifinalists by May. Then, a panel including sports legend Muhammad Ali and former secretary of state Henry Kissinger will narrow the choices down to 10 applicants by June.

The 10 finalists will be profiled on Amazon.com in July, and customers will be asked to make direct online contributions to their favorite ones until Sept. 30.

The organization that receives the largest total contributions from Amazon customers will be awarded the innovation award, along with a matching grant from Amazon.com. The award winner will be announced in October, the company said.