“Innovation to Impact” Wins the 2017 Social Impact Challenge in Flint


ANN ARBOR (March 15, 2017) — The University of Michigan (U-M) Center for Social Impact, in partnership with University of Michigan-Flint (UM-Flint) Outreach Office announced the winners of the multi-campus 2017 Social Impact Challenge on March 15, 2017 at the Flint Institute of Arts. The top team took home a $2,500 cash prize, and all team proposals taken into consideration as Skypoint Ventures’ Ferris Wheel Innovation Hub and [IN] On the Road look to bring entrepreneurship training programs to Flint neighborhoods.

Speaking about the partnership between campuses, Paula Nas, Interim Director of University Outreach at UM-Flint said, “The collaboration between Business+Impact and University Outreach at UM-Flint has been powerful.  Not only did our students have the experience of connecting with students from the Ann Arbor campus, but the Flint community benefited from the creative new ideas and approaches that the student teams envisioned to support our local entrepreneurs and small business owners. We are optimistic that we will be able to continue this partnership in the future.”

Matt Kelterborn of Business+Impact, Martha Fedorowitz, Emily Futcher, Dean-Mark Clemente, and Paula Nas of UM-Flint Outreach at the presentation of the winning check.

The challenge began in January with approximately 110 interested students from both campuses.  Of those, 18 teams with 70 students registered proposals for the competition, and after the first round of judging in February, four team finalists were selected to advance.

The winning team, Innovation to Impact, comprised of three students from the U-M Ross School of Business and the Ford School of Public Policy, won for their innovative and research-driven proposal that highlighted downtown training with significant neighborhood outreach.  The team was made up of U-M students Emily Futcher (MPP), Martha Fedorowitz (MPP), and Dean-Mark Clemente (MBA).

Additional awards went to the following teams:

  • A.K.A.K.A. – Second Prize ($1,000), Co-Campus Prize ($250), Arts Focus Prize ($250)
    (Kate Blessing (MPP), Aisha Changezi (UM-Flint Art), Ashlyee Freeman (MBA), Ashrita Shetty (MUP), Karen Cuenca (MPP/MUP))
  • Social Enrichment Whizzes – Third Prize ($500)
    (Nara Subramanian (MBA), Ammar Muhammad (UM-Flint General), Megan Graham (MPP), Jorge Sandoval (PhD Chemistry), Jon Nas (BBA))
  • Diversiteam – Fourth Prize ($250)
    (Corinne Wong (BBA), Sheila Xu (BBA), Alexandria Swift (BBA), Zijia Cai (BS Engineering), Galaad Preau (BBA))

Student teams all spent over a month learning about economic and social issues on the ground in Flint, visiting with Flint stakeholders, attending a site visit and tour, and poring over economic and entrepreneurship data. In the finals, various ideas included entrepreneurship mentors, entrepreneur fairs, worker spaces for artists, and further collaboration between U-M’s campuses.

“By participating in the Social Impact Challenge, our team was able to apply the critical thinking skills we learn in the classroom to a real-world challenge. We strongly valued the opportunity to utilize the amazing work already being developed by the City of Flint, U-M Flint, and the Ferris Hub to develop creative solutions in support of their goals,” said Martha Fedorowicz, a member of the winning team.

Finals Judges (l to r): Jessica Judson, Amy Gresock, Kevin Shronce, and Raquel Thueme (speaking).

After rounds of competition, the final decision was reached by challenge judges who are deeply embedded in Flint’s entrepreneurship revival:

  • Amy Gresock – Asst. Professor in the School of Management at UM-Flint
  • Jessica Judson – Program Coordinator of Corporate Social Responsibility for Diplomat Pharmacy
  • Kevin Schronce – Planner III in the City of Flint Planning/Zoning Office
  • Raquel Thueme – VP of Programs for the Ruth Mott Foundation.

“The Flint and Ann Arbor campuses of the University of Michigan are rife with talent and a spirit of innovation,” said Raquel Thueme, program judge and vice president of programs at the Ruth Mott Foundation. “It’s rewarding to see students applying their classroom learning and creativity to the goal of engaging neighborhoods and entrepreneurs in Flint’s revitalization.”

Work on the Social Impact Challenge winners’ proposal may continue with further projects and a possible summer internship offered through Business+Impact.  Such plans are in line with the Center’s purpose to provide action-based programs that offer student’s multidisciplinary and cross-sector opportunities to deliver social impact.

“We believe the best way to learn about delivering meaningful social impact is to actually work on the ground with community leaders on projects that have a lasting impact,” said Matt Kelterborn, program director for Business+Impact. “Our students are engaged across sectors and disciplines on real challenges, and we look forward to assisting our new Flint partners in this next stage.”


About the Social Impact Challenge

Every winter semester, the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Impact partners with urban partners on a project that helps tackle a pressing social or economic need. The Social Impact Challenge is an opportunity for graduate and undergraduate students across the entire university to collaborate and solve complex social issues in a competitive environment with real-world implications.

About Business+Impact

Since its inception in 2014, Business+Impact at the Stephen M. Ross School of Business has engaged hundreds of students across U-M and worked with a wide array of partners to define and advance the practice of social impact, social innovation and entrepreneurship. The center has a significant interest and stake in the city of Detroit. For more information, visit businessimpact.umich.edu.

About University of Michigan—Flint Outreach and [IN] On the Road

University Outreach connects campus and community to support learning, collaboration, and partnerships. The Outreach office does this through programs that give students and faculty meaningful opportunities to serve and learn in/with the community, and develop civic engagement leaders.  One of these programs is [IN] On the Road, which is an innovation incubator helping people start local businesses through a coworking space and workshops. For more information on the Outreach Office, visit http://www.umflint.edu/outreach/programs.  For more information on [IN] On the Road, visit http://www.umflint.edu/outreach/road

About Skypoint Ventures

Through smart investments in people, places and ideas, Skypoint Ventures helps innovators by providing them with spaces to create, and it gives new ideas the resources to be successful. Based in Flint, and founded by Phil and Jocelyn Hagerman in 2014, Skypoint has already been a key player in major building and investment in downtown Flint.  For more information on Skypoint Ventures, visit http://skypointventures.com.

PRESS CONTACT: Glenn Bugala, gbugala@umich.edu, 734-764-8189