More than 300 people filled a room at Raleigh’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts Monday afternoon as they listened to the final pitches in the Idea Generation/ Next – College Edition social innovation challenge. Participants made their pitches to a panel of judges, peers, and community members competing for the prize pool of $30,000.
United Way of the Greater Triangle’s President and CEO, Eric Guckian addressed the crowd before the students presented their ideas. “We need to get to the root causes of social injustices and wrap children and families in the support and services they need to thrive. This work is what it will take to change our community for the good, now, and for generations to come. And that is why this event is so incredibly meaningful. Today is about ideas to spark positive change.”
Idea Generation/ Next’s overall winner was Omari Hunt with his business ‘The 7-Day Project’. Omari represented North Carolina Central University. His business proposal is to help seniors living below the national poverty line to learn budgeting skills to be able to make decisions affecting both their personal finances and retirement planning. The project utilizes one-on-one financial management and weekly seminars to educate seniors on proper use of the combination of Medicare and state programs available to them based on their income level. He also proposed financial education to all family members as a way to break the cycle of generational poverty. Omari’s also received the ‘People’s Choice Award’ after an audience vote.
Second place went to Jordyn Weaver, another student from North Carolina Central University. Jordyn’s business proposal was called ‘The Black Market Company’. She proposed a business that would support, educate, promote and invest in small, minority-owned businesses to help them build and sustain generational wealth within Triangle Community. The Black Market Company would perform three major initiatives including: educating low wealth individuals and families on financial literacy, serve as an online marketplace for minority brands and businesses, and assist with business start-ups.
Third place was given to Tyler Walker, also from North Carolina Central University, for his ‘Education to Occupation Pipeline’ enterprise. His proposal includes working with Triangle businesses to sponsor students who would otherwise be unable to attend college. These students would also be guaranteed living wage, or better, jobs while also enrolling them into student loan debt assistance programs.
The final pitch event was the culmination of a four-month process starting with 37 ideas submitted across the six participating college campuses; Meredith College, North Carolina Central University, Saint Augustine’s, Shaw University, Wake Technical Community College, and William Peace University. From the initial applications, 19 semi-finalists were selected to participate in a business accelerator and coaching process. Judges selected six finalists to pitch their ideas in the final competition.
The competition’s judges included: Nate Spilker, Citrix; Darryl Lester, HindSight Consulting; Kelsey Pasley, Accenture Technology; and Destiny Alexander, The Tassel is Worth the Hassle (2017 Idea Generation/Next winner).
Farad Ali, President and CEO of The Institute emcee’d the event. The Reverend Chalice Overy was the keynote speaker. The MLK All Children’s Choir provided inspirational, high-energy entertainment while the judges deliberated on the competition’s winning idea.
About the Idea Generation/ Next – College Edition
United Way of the Greater Triangle partnered with The Institute and six area colleges: Meredith College, North Carolina Central University, Saint Augustine’s, Shaw University, Wake Technical Community College, and William Peace University; to challenge their students to come up with ideas to address social issues they believe are the most urgent. This social innovation challenge, Idea Generation/Next, can help answer, “Where do we go from here?”— ideas to make their communities more vibrant places to live is a way to move forward with pride and purpose.
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
United Way of the Greater Triangle