USD's Social Innovation Challenge 2013 Awards

A total of $42,500 was awarded to five (5) student winners of the 2013 Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) at the Awards Ceremony on May 3, 2013 (see photos at the bottom of the page). Out of 114 applicants, ten (10) finalists were chosen to compete with a live pitch in front of a diverse group of judges. There were five (5) winning teams out of the ten (10) finalists.

The SIC final judges were represented by

  • Jenny Craig (Founder, Jenny Craig Inc.)
  • Siyamak Khorrami (Founder & President, SkyRiver I.T.)
  • Moriah Meyskens (Professor, USD School of Business)
  • Ned McMahon (Founder, Malama Composites & CEO Primo Wind Inc.)
  • Charlie Piscitello (Senior Vice President & Chief People Officer, Petco & President, Petco Foundation)
  • Peg Ross (Vice President, Global Human Resources & Organizational Development, PCI International)
  • Kapil Sharma (Senior Managing Director, North America, Tata Sons Ltd.)
  • Chris J. Snook (Entrepreneur, Author, Venture Catalyst, Qualcomm Labs)

Additionally, all finalists received the opportunity to crowd fund on our partner Indiegogo page. Winners were given the opportunity to apply to Connect's Springboard and to enter into the EvoNexus incubator.

Deaf for African Development, Isidore Niyongabo (Prize Money: $15,000 + $2,500 Qualcomm Labs Live Audience Choice Award)

Isidore Niyongabo, originally from Muyinga, Burundi, created the project Deaf for African Development to improve the quality of life in the East African Community by starting with the inclusion of deaf people in civil societies with equal rights. 

Safe Parking Program, Teresa Smith (Prize Money: $10,000 Verizon Green Award)

After winning $10,000 in the 2012 SIC for her Eat Better Today program, Teresa Smith competed again. Her 2013 project continued to target homelessness in San Diego. Safe Parking Program provides a safe environment and supportive services for transitional homeless living in their vehicles for overnight stays. 

Roam, Connor Lind (Prize Money: $8,500)

Connor Lind knew about the problem with many volunteering directories on the Internet today, namely that they fail to incorporate the opinions of experienced volunteers. His idea, Roam, creates an online community to post reviews on unique volunteer opportunities around the world. 

Lace Up Stand Up, Kyle Miller, Negin Mani, Chris Barrett (Prize Money: $4,000)

Lace Up Stand Up believes bullying can be stopped through teaching leadership skills and intervention techniques to the witnesses and bystanders of bullying situations. Their idea is to use neon green shoelaces as a means of spreading awareness about school bullying.

Homespun, Grace Michel, Andrew Rae (Prize Money: $2,500)

Homespun empowers refugees as entrepreneurs, breaks isolation, promotes community, and celebrates culture. Refugees from Burma living in the US create traditional and innovative woven goods in a community-driven cultural promotion project, and sell their creations through Homespun, a sustainable clothing and accessory line.

2013 Finalists


E-Waste Collection, Alexandra Gates, Eric Hollenberry, Karissa Hagen, Shannon Schumacher

E-Waste Collection aims to reuse precious materials and increase the diversion rate of hazardous matter that would otherwise end up in landfills. The project's innovation is to change public views about how important it is to responsibly recycle electronics.


Human Powered Health Project, Hue Huynh

Hue Huynh's project, Human Powered Health Project, improves the health of Fijians, creates green medical devices, and increases access to health care/medical devices through telemedicine technology for people in remote villages in Yawasa Islands, Fiji.


Project Light Bulb, Robby Burnett

Project Light Bulb is a business venture that gives users remote control over power usage in their home or business. It is a reinvention of the common outlet and light switch. The user will be able to control each outlet and switch via an App or web portal.


LoansToLearn, Kristen LaBrosse

LoansToLearn aims to provide an alternative to payday lenders and aims to break the debt cycle through education. LTL aims to address California's problem of having the greatest unbanked and under-banked household population in the nation, with more than 1 million unbanked and 2.3 million under-banked.


Farm Xchange, Maria Stallings, Ming Chuang, Darlene Rabena, Vince DePalma

Farm Xchange, is devoted to advancing sustainable urban agriculture by developing an online platform and rooftop community center to promote the free exchange of sustainable farming methods, to further the movement toward local agriculture, and to educate young organic farmers in urban areas.

2013 Awards Ceremony

2013 SIC's Awards Ceremony was held on Friday, May 3, 2013 in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Theatre.
The Registration and the opportunity to meet all finalists in IPJ's Rotunda started at 4:00 p.m. It followed at 4:30 p.m with the Awards Ceremony Program of Finalists Pitches, $40,000 Awards, and the Qualcomm Labs Live Audience Choice Award in the Theatre. The eventful ceremony was followed by a Networking Reception in USD's beautiful Garden of the Sea.

The event was curated by Cheryl K. Goodman, Senior Director of Marketing and Business Development for Qualcomm Labs, Inc. The Keynote speaker was Adriana Herrera, Founder and CEO of Fashioning Change.

Cheryl K. Goodman Cheryl K. Goodman
Adriana Herrera Adriana Herrera
Following 1.5 minute pitches from each finalist, Qualcomm Labs sponsored a Live Audience Choice Award. The awards presentation was followed by networking with our community of supporters including representatives from Connect, EvoNexus, San Diego Social Venture Partners, and Qualcomm Labs as well as our judges, mentors, Executive Advisory Board members, and SIC participants.
SIC 2013 Finalists SIC 2013 Finalists (1st row: Adriana Kaplan, Hue Huynh, Connor Lind, 2nd row: Kristen LaBrosse, Isidore Niyongabo, Shannon Schumacher, Robby Burnett, 3rd row: Grace Michel, Teresa Smith, Ming Chuang)