Sydney Kate Watson, asst. arts & living
On Friday, the Center for Student Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development (C-SEED) presented the Social Impact Challenge. Three teams comprised of Berry students showcased their ideas about how to improve the quality of life for people and communities while competing for seed money to begin their non-profit organization.
Sophomore Bonner Scholars Lucy Hicks and Dalton Brantley took first place in the competition. The two saw a disconnect between students who self-identify with disabilities on Berry’s campus and the resources available to those students. Their solution to this problem is “Accessibility For All,” meaning that they would help students establish and advance a partnership with the Academic Success Center (ASC). Their main hope is to see an improved well-being for students on campus.
“We want to serve as a platform for people who have disabilities, for their voices to be heard,” Hicks said.
While neither of them have a disability, Hicks and Brantley partnered with junior Anaiah Rucker; a student with physical disabilities living on campus.
Hicks previously took a class called The History of Intellectual Disability that was taught by Michelle Haney, director of applied behavior analysis/autism program. During the class, Hicks was inspired by the saying “nothing about us without us,” regarding the Disabilities’ Rights Movement. Hicks and Brantley respected this motto and wanted to use it when formulating their project.
“With being able to work with somebody who has a disability, we’re able to really follow, the ‘nothing about us without us,’” Hicks said.
The pair was extremely excited about winning and are thankful they could bring awareness to the issue. Hicks and Brantley were ready to get started on Monday.
“We’ll hit the ground running on Monday and see where we need to go from there,” Hicks said.
The second place team and recipient of the audience choice award consisted of junior Bonner Scholar Lirio Morales Ibarra and freshman Gate of Opportunity Scholar Millie Carpenter. Through volunteer service with the Bonner Scholars, Morales Ibarra witnessed food insecurity plaguing the Rome community.
“I got to see a lot of gaps, ways that things could be enhanced,” Morales Ibarra said.
Morales Ibarra joined forces with Carpenter, who had similar passions for change, and they wanted to begin the Anti-Hunger Coalition. 24.4% of people in the Rome community suffer from food insecurity, which is associated with other issues, especially health issues. The team partnered with community members such as the Rome YMCA, Berry College Volunteer Services (BCVS) and Aramark. Aramark offered to donate 5,000 meals per academic year, and student volunteers from BCVS would deliver the meals to the Rome community partners. The project is expandable through relationships built with community partners.
“We’ve put a lot of work in behind the scenes, having different conversations with different organizations,” Morales Ibarra said.
Morales Ibarra and Carpenter are excited to have gotten their idea out there, and they both felt that they have gained so much from participating in this challenge.
“If you’re willing to go out there, see the need, and try and come up with a solution you aren’t going to be alone in trying to solve it,” Carpenter said.
The team was amazed to see how their project was able to impact so many lives.
“It’s been really encouraging and uplifting to just see how me as a college student can implement this and have it touch actual lives and families,” Morales Ibarra said.
The third team was Olivia Crumbly and Virginia Nash. Their concentration was male sex trafficking. While researching, Crumbly saw that there were many resources for female sex-trafficking survivors, but there were almost no resources for male survivors. Crumbly and Nash’s idea for strength and recovery of survivors is known as “Adam’s House.”
Kevin Renshler, director of C-SEED, said that the Social Impact Challenge is the non-profit version of the PITCH Competition, a Shark-Tank-like competition to win seed money for students’ new ventures or current revenue generating ventures. The Social Impact Challenge emphasizes teamwork, since that is what is needed in the non-profit world, and the challenges want projects that will improve the quality of life for people, places (communities) or our planet.
“We wanted students that had a passion for social innovation, students who wanted to potentially go and work with non-profit organizations, an avenue to solve problems,” Renshler said.
According to Renshler, this is the Social Impact Challenge’s first annual event. C-SEED hosted a pilot of the challenge in spring 2021, and due to its success, the event will be held every year in the fall.
“I would like this to become a tradition at Berry College,” Renshler said. “I want people to know we have the Social Impact Challenge in the fall and PITCH in the spring.”
Renshler said that he is thoroughly impressed with the work that the teams have put into this challenge. He wanted to recognize their commitment to their passion; for the teams, he said it was not about winning, but about helping others. The teams deserve a pat on the back and need to realize that they are significantly helping others, Renshler emphasized.
“I hope they realize that their sweat equity, everything that they’ve invested, is going to have a positive impact on another human being,” Renshler said.