Over the course of three months, over 30 teams competed in INNOVATE, Central Student Government’s Public Service Pitch Competition. Teams worked with mentors in workshops to develop an idea, create a presentation, and pitch their idea to a panel of judges. Nine teams made it to the final round of judging. On March 7, all nine teams gathered in the Pendleton Room in the Union for the final round of judging and their shot at winning a share of $10,000. At the end of the competition, 5 teams were awarded $1,500 each: Crossroads Bakery, PeriOperative, Lingo Match, Freezemi, and Removing Barriers for the Opioid Crisis. Removing Barriers for the Opioid Crisis won an extra $1,500 for being the Judges’ Choice, and Crossroads Bakery won an extra $1,000 for Students’ Choice.
Winner: Crossroads Bakery
Rebecca Leeman and Sarah Parkes are working to create a bakery that employs people with disabilities. With the funding they received from INNOVATE, they will work to build a brick-and-mortar bakery that employs people with disabilities, puts them through an intensive training program, and provides them with licensed kitchen appliances. Crossroads Bakery is also the Student’s Choice winning team.
Winner: Removing Barriers for the Opioid Crisis
Annie O’Connor, Meghan O’Neil want to implement an “Ability to Pay” software in Washtenaw County to help those recovering from opioid addiction. This software would allow people to resolve outstanding fees and warrants online, and allow judges to offer payment plans, reduced fines, or community service for those unable to pay. With the money, the prize money from INNOVATE, they will be able to pay their community partner to implement this software. Removing Barriers for the Opioid Crisis is also the Judges’ Choice winning team.
Winner: Lingo Match
Syeda Mahmood and Natalie Andrasko are working to implement Lingo Match, an organization that provides interpretation and translation services to law firms, non-profits, community centers, and independent attorneys who primarily serve immigrant and refugee populations. These services are free so that they are accessible to organizations that cannot hire professional translators. With the help of the INNOVATE prize money, they will be able to continue serving community organizations at no cost.
Junyeon Cho is developing an assistive device for cognitive behavioral therapy for those affected by Tourette Syndrome. With the INNOVATE prize money, Cho will be able to purchase components, pay an assurance advisory fee, and build a basic marketing channel. This will allow Freezemi to launch a minimum viable prototype.
The PeriOperative team is designing a warming mattress that is regulated by temperature sensors on the body to prevent perioperative hypothermia caused by general anesthesia during surgery. With the INNOVATE prize money, PeriOperative will be able to complete functional prototypes and testing, as well as plan and prepare for travel to places where this device is needed most.
Adam Racette, Jashan Kishore, and the Solar Fridge team are working on developing a solar-powered fridge to prevent vaccine denaturation to increase vaccine availability in low-resource communities. In the future, they hope to develop a prototype and begin distributing their product to communities that need it.
Bringing Hope Back Home:
Oluwakemi Dauda dreams of making an education accessible to all students. Through Bringing Hope Back Home, Dauda has partnered with a school in Kaduna, Nigeria to target some of the barriers of accessing an education. In the future, Dauda and the rest of the Bringing Hope Back Home team hopes to purchase school supplies, uniforms, test prep resources, and college prep resources to help keep kids in school.
Aastha Dharia, Aria Thakore, Sheily Shah, and Swathi Sampath are the founders of hEARt, a program that connects students with students. Their plan is to develop an app that connects students struggling with mental health issues to other students that have had similar experiences, and are trained to provide resources for struggling students.
Teens for Teens:
Miriam Chung, Caroline Nguyen, and Saveri Nandigama are the founders of Teens for Teens: a non-profit organization by teens for teens. This team hopes to help teenagers in juvenile detention centers make a smooth transition back into society by providing juvenile detention centers with books, partnering with teachers to create interactive lesson plans, providing access to test and college prep resources, and funding scholarships.
Clockwise from top left: Maggie Cooney, Isabelle Blanchard, Elle Shwer, Lake Periman, Sierra Taylor (on phone), Evie Winter, Aashika Shetty, Camille Mancuso, Usha Yeruva