Teams Compete in Georgetown Entrepreneurship COVID-19 Design Challenge

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Over 500 people tuned in on Facebook to watch 11 teams participate in Georgetown Entrepreneurship’s virtual COVID-19 Design Challenge in September. The challenge, a one day hackathon-style event, centered on mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the future of work, learning, and communities. Projects focused on the categories of vulnerable communities, (un)employment, and education. 

Students had five hours to work with their teams and present a pitch to a panel of esteemed judges. Thanks to the support of Foley and Larder LLP, judges awarded teams a total of $15,000 in cash and in-kind prizes. 

The first place team, All Aboard to Health, won $2,500 cash and $10,000 in in-kind legal services for their not-for-profit management organization that utilizes bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and others to deliver care packages to low-income American families. 

“Food insecurity is a widespread issue that affects many low-income American families, and this problem has been exacerbated by COVID-19,” said Alliyah Harold (C’20), one of the members of the team.

The team looked at Cleveland, Ohio, where food insecurity has risen 5% in the past seven months. Harold explained that many children rely on school programs to provide most, if not all, of their meals.

“School districts that can afford to deploy their employees can now ensure that vulnerable children in their community are fed,” Harold added.

The team aims to solicit donations and apply for grants to support schools that lack funding for the program. 

In addition to winning the grand prize, All Aboard to Health also received the Spirit of Georgetown Award, netting them another $500. The award recognizes the team that judges felt best typified the selfless, value-driven character of Georgetown.

The second place team, Kits 4 Kids, received $1,500 for their model, which aims to reduce the costs associated with home-schooling, particularly during COVID-19. Team member Ryan Lee (MBA’22) had been a member of the Peace Corps when the pandemic hit. When he moved back home, he was shocked at the amount of money and work it took to keep his niece and nephew engaged in activities. 

“We were lucky to have five adults and four incomes to contribute, but it almost wasn’t enough. I couldn’t imagine how other families did it,” said Lee. 

Kits 4 Kids offers a “buy one, give one” model, where parents receive monthly kits with four books and hands-on activities for their kids. 

Nana’s Table, the third place team, won $500 for their model, which focuses on providing meals that are tailored to the health needs of patients or residents at hospitals and nursing homes. 

Juliane Martin (L’21), one of the members of the team, thought of Nana’s Table after talking with her grandmother about the food she has to eat at her memory care facility. 

“I am the legal guardian of my loving grandmother who has Alzheimer’s and other underlying medical conditions. The meals in her care facility are not designed for her specific health needs and are not presented in a dignified manner,” Martin said. 

Martin’s goal is to ensure the meal quality and nutrition of seniors does not decline even if their health declines. 

With the overwhelming support and participation from its faculty and students, the COVID-19 Design Challenge continues to serve as a reminder that students can adapt to their environment to make the world a better place.