Students offer solutions to social ills at Triple Impact Challenge

Twenty-two students from different disciplines participated in the inaugural competition to create entrepreneurial ventures.

Students, faculty and the Elon University community gathered Oct. 17 for the culmination of the Triple Impact Challenge, sponsored by the Doherty Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

The challenge asked student teams or individuals to present solutions to social problems they saw on campus or in the broader community. Students explored and researched their chosen issue for one month and developed proposed solutions. The nine teams gave 5-minute presentations to a panel of three judges that selected first, second and third place winners based on the potential impact of the solution presented.

Professor Kevin O’Mara, director of the Doherty Center, said the challenge was meant for students to do more than just discuss their ideas, but to take action steps into making them reality.

“Ideas supported by actions that lead to execution change things,” O’Mara said. “The Doherty Center wants to be a hub on campus that encourages, facilitates, guides, and supports students across campus taking actions on issues and opportunities that matter to them.”

The first place winners were HOPE, standing for Helping Other People Eat. Sophomores Jensen Roll, Greg Stone, Drew Dimos, Steven Cobb, and Chris Coble developed the idea for HOPE as a way to fund local nonprofit food pantries that provide groceries and hot meals for those in need.

HOPE will partner with local restaurants to give customers the option of rounding up the cost of their meal to the nearest dollar or adding a donation on to their bill. All of the extra money will go directly to fund local food pantries such as Allied Churches.

“Hunger is a huge issue in Alamance County and with Loaves and Fishes just closing this seemed like a perfect time to bring HOPE to the community,” Roll said. “HOPE not only helps to feed the hungry, but it also builds awareness for those in the community who might not be conscious of those in the community who are hungry.”

The first place winners of the Triple Impact Challenge get to have lunch with President Leo M. Lambert and second and third place winners received gift cards to local restaurants.

Roll said winning the challenge will provide a springboard for the group to expand their idea.

“By winning this challenge we have gained a new sense of accomplishment and excitement that this is an idea worth pursuing. It is our goal to use this win as a launching pad to share our idea and continue to improve it,” Roll said.

The team that came in second place was Elon Handmade, which is an art co-op started by Samantha Italiano and Mathew Goldberg. The purpose of the co-op is to foster community engagement with local artists and provide avenues for artists to sell their work.

The third place winner was Student Safety Net, an idea proposed by Morgan Abate, Samuel Ackerman, Ameya Benegal, and Adam Gill. Student Safety Net would be a middle school anti-bullying campaign using after-school clubs to build self-esteem and friendship among students.

Other participating teams were Growing Elon Entrepreneurship, Elon App, With One, Happiness Project, Sexual Assault Audit, and Divot Repair Instrument.

Growing Elon Entrepreneurship was proposed by Ben Charette and Jack Pasi to create a website answering students’ questions about issues on campus.

Parker Connolly presented the Elon App, an app for smart phones that would combine elements such as email, Biobus routes, personal class schedules, and Phoenix card services.

With One was created by Savannah Chaisson and Jenn Brouder in an effort to unite Elon’s campus under one common cause by getting every student to donate a dollar to a charitable organization.

The Happiness Project was proposed by Carling Andrews as a campus-wide awareness event about people suffering from depression and how to look for symptoms and solutions to the disease.

Aimee Kensky, Joseph Milone, Sophie Emmerson, and Alex Battaglia presented the Sexual Assault Audit, which would be a website where students could post incidences of sexual assault and educate themselves on their rights to a safe campus environment.

The Divot Repair Instrument was developed by Eric Sherman as a method to repair divots in golf course fairways that is easier and creates less back injuries for golf course managers.

O’Mara said if students show interest the challenge will continue in the future.

“We hope it will not only become an annual event but more than just once a year. If interest is there, the Doherty Center is here to help put them together.”