Miller, Shay win Social Venture Challenge
After competing against 1,200 students early this month at the Clinton Global Initiative University, five teams consisting of Oregon State University entrepreneurship students are looking to once again receive funding for their business models by applying for the CGI U Innovation Fund, launched this week.
Started by President Bill Clinton, the CGI U looks to support and feature the most effective student innovators from around the world.
With the help of Chelsea Clinton, Conan O’Brien, and the CEO’s of Khan Academy and Pinterest, the CGI U allows students to compete in five focus areas—education, environment and climate change, peace and human rights, poverty alleviation and public health.
The OSU teams were given $10,000 from student affairs to compete in the CGI U, according to Associate Director for Global Diversity Initiatives, Amarah Khan.
“It is an excellent use of that money,” Khan said. “I am very proud of our efforts, and hopefully with more funding next year we will have more engagement to send even more teams to compete.”
Five different OSU teams contended early this month for the $7000 grant to fund their business plan. OSU entrepreneurship team Steven Miller and Moriah Shay won the CGI U category Social Venture Challenge with their business plan, Enterprising Education.
“I co-founded Enterprising Education, a social venture designed to help improve educational outcomes of both undergraduates and impoverished students in the K-12 system,” Miller said.
Developed last November, Enterprising Education was inspired by OSU’s entrepreneurship maker’s spaces, according to Shay.
“A makerspace is basically a space for students to tinker, toy and make whatever they want using the fabrication equipment,” Shay said. “For Enterprising Education, we take a maker’s space and put it in the back of a 40-foot cargo trailer and can take it to disconnected or rural communities.”
The mobile makerspace will be partnered with a STEAM curriculum—science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. Rural communities are in need of programs such as Enterprising Education in order to fund after-school activities, according to Miller.
“United Way of Benton County did an assessment and found that students after school were spending their time doing activities that were not positive for the community,” Miller said. “There was some community concern over the youth and finding them productive opportunities to help them develop skills.”
Enterprising Education is completely undergraduate student-run, and gives undergraduates the opportunity to mentor students, particularly local kindergarten students.
“Undergraduates will be able to help cultivate the soft skills they need to be successful in the workplace by implementing the Enterprising Education program that will provide students in the K-12 system with resources and programs that they otherwise would not have,” Miller said.
After winning the Social Venture Challenge, Miller and Shay received not only $7,000 in seed funding from the CGI U, but also were invited to join the Resolution Fellowship, one of the world’s most prestigious international fellowships designed to offer networking and mentorship to the future leaders and changemakers of the world.
These connections will help launch Enterprising Education’s future plans, according to Shay.
“This summer we will use the funding to purchase and make the entire portable innovation lab over the summer,” Shay said. “We will then launch the pilot program in the Monroe School District in fall of 2016, and after we will perform research on how we can improve.”
The inspiration for Enterprising Education stems from the opportunities the founders were presented growing up, according to Miller.
“Being adopted from an impoverished household in South Korea, and given the chance to grow up in the United States, I recognize the fact that I have been given an opportunity that most other individuals in the world will never have,” Miller said. “I am driven to use the resources at my disposal to impact and empower those less fortunate than I.”
For Shay, growing up in a rural community with little opportunity inspired her to give back to those who are in the same position as she was, Shay said.
“Growing up I never thought I could go to college,” Shay said. “Through relentless hard work and support I was able to come to OSU, and so I see myself in a lot of the students we go help. That’s why I’m so passionate and driven about this project.”
Shay and Miller, along with the four other OSU teams who competed at CGI U, are now applying for the Innovation Fund. Launched this week, the Innovation Fund offers accepted students additional seed funding for their business, ranging from approximately $2,000 to $10,000.
The Innovation Fund is an extension of the opportunities presented to the students who competed at the CGI U, which was an unforgettable experience in itself, according to Miller.
“Being able to participate at CGI U was a life changing experience, and one has significantly impacted the course of my long-term career,” Miller said. “It was surreal to be surrounded by intelligent, innovative and passionate individuals who truly desire to change the world, and to partake in an inspirational and encouraging experience.”