USD Students Compete to Build a Better World

PLEASE HOLD for Broadcast or Publication until 2 p.m., Friday April 29

Media, you are welcome to cover the awards ceremony which will take place at noon at Anthony’s Fish Grotto, 9530 Murray Dr., La Mesa, 91942

USD Students Compete to Build a Better World

A project to create a cleaner San Diego and provide clean water to Haiti at the same time is the winner of the University of San Diego’s Center for Peace and Commerce’s first Social Innovation Challenge.

USD undergraduate Tiffany Owen will receive $5,000 to implement her “Clean California Clean Haiti Campaign” whose ultimate  goal is to reduce water born diseases in Haiti. The plan involves distributing custom recycling bags and collecting them each week. Volunteers will sort the recycling and the Clean California Clean Haiti Campaign will redeem for cash used to purchase and install water pumps and filters in villages in Haiti.

The competition, administered by USD’s  Center for Peace and Commerce, invited students to submit proposals for either a new venture to address social and environmental challenges facing the world or to create a consulting project for an existing organization. The awards were announced at noon on  Friday, April 29 at a luncheon sponsored by Anthony’s Fish Grotto, 9530 Murray Dr., La Mesa, 91942.

“The students’ proposals were amazing,” said challenge judge Charlie Piscitello, PETCO senior vice president of Human Resources, president of the PETCO Foundation and member of USD’s Center for Peace and Commerce  Executive Advisory Committee. “I was impressed by the range of ideas, creativity, thoughtfulness and passion that students demonstrated for their ideas. When we are challenged to take these great ideas and translate them into ‘commerce for  good,’ everyone wins.”

Sixteen proposals were received for the initial competition. “The results of this first challenge confirm our belief in student creativity and entrepreneurship for finding solutions to world problems and creating a more peaceful and sustainable world,” said Patricia Marquez, an associate professor in the USD School of Business Administration and the center’s director. “Participating students have taught us valuable lessons on what is possible and we look forward to expanding the Social Innovation Challenge next year to include more students who want to put ideas into action.”

Second place and $3,000 in the challenge was awarded to Tipiwa Mabutho, a first-year MBA student from Botswana whose “Project Brain-Gain” will create an online platform to engage Africans living outside the continent in Africa’s economic activity and growth by providing them with credible and reliable information.

Two projects tied for third place and will each receive $1,500. A team of three students, Justine Darling and Chris Morales, graduate students in USD’s Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies; and Rohini Sankapal, a first-year MBA student, proposed “Ethical and Local Sourcing at USD” to work with the USD bookstore and other on-campus stores to bring locally and ethically sourced products to campus. Elika Dadsetan, a graduate student in the peace school, proposed “Word Play!” an afterschool program for high-risk youth focused on literacy.

Four other finalists will receive a $250 award.

The awards were made possible by a  generous donation of $15,000 from John and Nancy Jo Cappetta. John Cappetta is president of Cappetta Capital Partners, LLC, and a graduate of USD’s School of Business Administration.

“We very much appreciate our distinguished panel of judges who put a great deal of thought and effort into selecting the winners,” Marquez said. Judges were Siyamak Khorrami, senior business analyst, Skyriver Communications and a USD graduate; Charlie Piscitello, president of the PETCO Foundation; Peg Ross, director of Human Capital for the Grameen Foundation; Helder Sebastiao, assistant professor in USD’s School of Business Administration; Necla Tschirgi, visiting professor in the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies and Laura Hetzel, a USD MBA candidate.

USD’s Center for Peace and Commerce is a joint effort by USD’s School of Business Administration and the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies to prepare new generations of “change agents” to build a more sustainable world through innovative thinking and action, by integrating business principles and effective management with unique ideas for peace building and poverty alleviation.


About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.