Just last month GENYOUth hosted our first AdVenture Capital Fuel Up Innovation Challenge with Dairy Management Inc (DMI). Held at the Athletico Center in Chicago, the event connected 100 local area students with 125 DMI employees volunteering as mentors, judges and presenters, who helped the students create and design projects to make healthy change in their school communities.
This event was called, “Hungry for Change,” and tasked students with generating solutions around food insecurity, food waste and honoring the harvest. After working to design and prototype ideas, students pitched their ideas Shark Tank style for the chance to win a $1000 grant to bring the idea to life. All students deserve credit for attending the event and bravely pitching their ideas, but thirteen teams were lucky enough to earn grants and make their projects a reality.
For the students, it was a chance to “explore their ideas, roll up their sleeves, get to know those adult mentors, and think about the WHO, what, when, where, and how to implement their projects,” says GENYOUth CEO Alexis Glick. But for the school and the community as a whole, it’s a way to tap into young talent and help solve problems by using young and fresh perspectives. It’s also a way to witness how powerful young people can be in making a difference--and how we can be a part of that change. “As people who believe in the future of the next generation, it starts by beginning with youth,” says our CEO, Glick.
Because students only have 60 seconds to pitch, the whole process can be incredibly nerve-wracking, “It felt like my legs were shaking everywhere, I was nervous,” recalls one contestant. But the nerves don’t change their mission--”We really want to focus on reducing waste in our high school because that’s one of the biggest problems,” shared one student. Some winning projects included a “Grab n Go Cart” that makes use of uneaten food from lunch the day before, and puts it in a refrigerated cart that will then be pushed around to the students’ classrooms. This way, students who do not have the time for breakfast or are not able to make it to school early enough for breakfast are still able to get a nutritious meal first thing in the morning. Another idea entailed giving out tickets to low-income families that can be redeemed for fruits and vegetables. These students told GENYOUth, “We just did something amazing for the school. It was such a great experience and it will be unforgettable.”
There is no shortage of creativity from young people. We see time and again that students care deeply about issues like food insecurity, providing equitable access to nutritious foods, and food waste. If given the chance, they work to find solutions these issues within their own schools.
We are so thankful for the hard work of everyone who made this event possible, and we can’t wait to see these student projects come to life.