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.

Winner: Freezemi


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.

Winner: PeriOperative


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. 

Solar Fridge:


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

INNOVATE – A Public Service Pitch Competition

The upcoming public service pitch competition, INNOVATE, creates opportunities for students to further their efforts in public service, entrepreneurship, and other issues they are passionate about. Students will be given the chance to network with other students form teams, listen to speakers, and receive guidance from mentors on their proposed ideas. Following multiple rounds of judging, the top teams will be awarded up to $10,000 worth of funding from CSG, the Center for Entrepreneurship, and University of Michigan Library to continue their work.
The event officially kicks off January 17th from 7-9 PM. in the League Ballroom. Enjoy free dinner and learn more about the competition, how you can receive funding for your ideas, and meet possible teammates. The event will feature Suneel Gupta, a founding member of Groupon and CEO of Rise. Check out our facebook event at and see below for more specific dates and times of other future INNOVATE events.
01/17 Kick-off & Information Session @ League Ballroom, 7-9 pm
01/28 Pitch Development & Workshop @ Parker Room in Union, 1-2 pm
02/04 – 02/07 Mentor Office Hours @ CSG Offices in Union, 7-9 pm
02/12 First Round of Judging @ Tappan in Union, 7-9 pm
02/18 Mentor Office Hours @ CSG Offices in Union, 3-5 pm
03/07 Final Round of Pitches @ Tappan in Union 7-9 pm
Sign ups for the competition are now open at and will close January 21st. Questions? Email!


**To participate in INNOVATE, you do NOT have to have any prior experience, a project you are already working on, or even a team in place. If you have a passion or idea, sign up and CSG will provide the team and the mentoring you need to make that idea a success.**

On Giving Blueday, CSG Fundraising for INNOVATE, a Public Service Pitch Competition

If you’re frustrated by the state of public service in America, here’s a starting point toward making a difference! Better public service means that we need passionate leadership from people of all backgrounds and experiences—that’s why Central Student Government is hosting INNOVATE, the very first university-wide public service pitch competition. With a framework that encourages collaboration between students from a broad range of disciplines, and emphasis on unconventional disciplines in the realm of public service, we hope catalyze real-world positive change through #BetterPublicService. This Giving Blueday, we’re hoping that you can spare a few dollars and contribute to help us give every dollar right back to student innovators and entrepreneurs who have the ideas to change public service beyond the University of Michigan. Please consider supporting INNOVATE this Giving Blueday—the people who will change the state of public service in America are the Leaders & Best, and your contribution will help them make their daring ideas into reality. Give to INNOVATE here: