USD Changemakers Compete to Solve Global Concerns

Social Innovation Challenge to Award $40,000 for Student Proposals

Promising University of San Diego student innovators and entrepreneurs will pitch their plans for transformative ideas to solve social, environmental and other problems here in the U.S. and across the globe at the third annual Social Innovation Challenge, a program of the Center for Peace and Commerce, on Tuesday, April 30. The event takes place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice.

Ten finalists were selected from 114 innovative proposals including ones to conserve energy by giving consumers remote control over power usage in their homes and businesses; promote awareness and leadership skills to end school bullying; revolutionize the search for volunteer opportunities around the world; create an online platform to improve urban farming and improve the life of hearing-impaired individuals in East Africa.

Judges for this year’s competition comprise a panel of entrepreneurs, corporate and nonprofit leaders including Jenny Craig, founder of Jenny Craig, Inc.; Kapil Sharma, senior general manager in North America of Tata Sons Ltd., and Peg Ross of PCI.

The 114 proposals were more than double the number of last year’s 52 entries. “We’ve seen tremendous interest from our students in the competition,” said Steve Conroy, PhD, faculty director of USD’s Center for Peace and Commerce. “They are eager and excited to use the knowledge and skills from their USD education to come up with creative and cutting-edge solutions to the world’s problems.”

A total of $40,000 in prize money will be awarded to the winners to make their vision a reality at a ceremony on Friday, May 3 from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the theatre of the peace institute. The prize money includes $10,000 for the Verizon “Green Award” plus a $2,500 Qualcomm Labs “Live Audience Choice Award.” Finalists will receive further support from the Center of Peace and Commerce’s partnership with crowdfunding site Indiegogo and San Diego’s EvoNexus, Social Venture Partners and Connect Springboard.

The Awards Ceremony will be curated by Cheryl Goodman, senior director of marketing and business development, Qualcomm Labs. To attend the event, please RSVP. The ceremony will end with a networking reception in the institute’s Garden of the Sea.

The Social Innovation Challenge promotes, guides and supports student-driven ideas to launch or to contribute to existing social enterprises by for-profit, hybrid and nonprofit organizations, locally and abroad. The 10 finalists’ proposals are described below. All 114 projects can be viewed at Entries to USD’s challenge received by Jan. 28 of this year also were entered in Dell’s Social Innovation Challenge.

Lace Up Stand Up (LUSU)
Lace Up Stand Up believes bullying can be stopped through teaching leadership skills and intervention techniques to the witnesses and bystanders of bullying situations. The team came up with the idea of using neon green shoelaces as a means of spreading awareness about school bullying.

E-Waste Collection
E-Waste Collection has collected over 275,000 pounds of E-waste. The goal is 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.

Safe Parking Program
After winning a $10,000 prize in the 2012 Social Innovation Challenge for her Eat Better Today program, Teresa Smith is competing again. This year’s project continues 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.

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

Connor Lind knows 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.

Human Powered Health Project
Hue Huynh’s project, Human Powered Health Project ,will improve the health of Fijians and increase access to health care/medical devices through telemedicine technology for people in remote villages in Yawasa Islands, Fiji.

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.

Project Light Bulb
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 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
FarmXchange, 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.

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 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’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 recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that 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.


Pamela Gray Payton
(619) 260-4681