Press Release

NFTE Awards Over $21K to Innovation Challenge Winners

Nine teams of young entrepreneurs offer innovative ideas to advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals

April 2, 2020 | New York, NY

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) concluded its latest World Series of Innovation cycle by awarding nine teams of young entrepreneurs a total of $21,600 in cash prizes. The World Series of Innovation is a global online competition that invites young people ages 13 to 24 to tackle innovation challenges aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Late last year, small teams and solo competitors from 63 countries began to work on ideas for innovative products, services or initiatives that could help advance the global Goals by addressing some of the most urgent problems facing humanity. Judging concluded earlier this month. Now the winning team in each challenge category receives an $1,800 cash prize and the two runners up in each category receive a $300 prize.

“The World Series of Innovation offers young people around the globe a chance to exercise their design thinking skills and develop greater awareness of the critical issues addressed by the SDGs,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, NFTE’s president and CEO. “Unlike our more well-known business plan competitions, where our learners pitch fully developed businesses, this NFTE entrepreneurship experience focuses specifically on ideation. World Series of Innovation competitors are presented with tough challenges and they’re asked to find opportunities in those challenges. That’s a first step towards learning how to think like an entrepreneur. And, right now, in this time of global pandemic, I think we can take comfort in seeing how passionate this new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs is about making progress on the global Goals.”

NFTE’s World Series of Innovation is presented by Citi Foundation, with additional support from the organizations that sponsor specific challenges. The nine challenge sponsors in this cycle included: Assurant, Bank of the West, Citi Foundation, EY, Intuit Education, Mastercard, Moody’s Foundation, PayPal, and Resonance Philanthropies.

The winning entries in each of the nine sponsored challenge categories are:

  • Assurant Stronger Communities Challenge (SDG 11): Adaptive Reconnaissance, a drone system with 3D mapping software to help first responders evaluate conditions in disaster zones. Submitted by a team from Arroyo High School in San Lorenzo, California.
  • Bank of the West Clean Energy Challenge (SDG 7): Biofood, a program pairing restaurants with local power companies to turn food waste into biofuels that can generate clean energy. Submitted by a team from Abraham Lincoln High School in San Francisco, California.
  • Citi Foundation Gender Equality Challenge (SDG 5): Emerge, a program for young women in rural areas of Bangladesh interested in pursuing a trade in the garment industry in lieu of being forced into work as domestics. Submitted by a team from the Academy of American Studies in Queens, New York.
  • EY Belonging Challenge (SDG 16): Oikku, a community-building mobile app to help young people when they leave college and first enter the workforce. Submitted by a team from Francis Parker High School in San Diego, California.
  • Intuit Education Sustainable Careers Challenge (SDG 4): ResMed, a distance learning program that utilizes virtual reality to train health workers on Indian reservations. Submitted by a team of high school students from Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, Colorado.
  • Mastercard Financial Access Challenge (SDG 9): ATD, an automated teller drone bringing access to financial services to those in remote rural areas. Submitted by a team from Woodbridge High School in Irvine, California.
  • Moody’s Foundation Climate Action Challenge (SDG 13): BondFlow, a solution promoting investment in sustainability by allowing investors to verify the impact of green bonds. Submitted by a multi-national team attending King’s College in London, England.
  • PayPal Equality for All Challenge (SDG 10): UV Smiles, a solar-powered UV light water purification system promoting equality for people who lack access to drinkable water. Submitted by a team from Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, Colorado.
  • Resonance Philanthropies Youth Well-Being Challenge (SDG 3): ReThink, a cyberbullying solution that works across email, texting, and social media apps by detecting offensive messages before they’re posted. ReThink is now live, in a controlled introduction. Submitted by solo competitor who now attends Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Young people today are more passionate than ever about using their voices to enact social change,” said Florencia Spangaro, Director of Programs, Citi Foundation. “Partnering with NFTE for the World Series of Innovation allows us to give youth the opportunity to be heard and encourages them to harness their creativity for measurable social change.”

For complete details on the challenges, sponsors and prizes, visit nfte.com/innovation.

About NFTE
Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship is the leading educational nonprofit focused on teaching startup skills and activating the entrepreneurial mindset in young people from under-resourced communities. Research shows the entrepreneurial mindset—a set of skills including initiative, self-reliance, adaptability, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, communication, and collaboration—leads to lifelong success. Empowered by the entrepreneurial mindset and equipped with the business and academic skills NFTE teaches, program alumni are prepared to thrive. NFTE works with schools and community partners across the U.S. through its nationwide network of program offices. Alliances with global youth development organizations bring NFTE programs to additional students internationally. NFTE reaches more than 100,000 young people annually and has served well over a million students since its founding. Learn more at nfte.com.

About Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant communities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit citifoundation.com.

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NFTE World Series of Innovation

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