The 2018 Social Impact Challenge, co-hosted by the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, and the University of Michigan’s Center for Social Impact, is a campus-wide student competition. It tasks multidisciplinary teams of students with identifying creative solutions for social impact partners. This year’s challenge, which begins tomorrow, will focus on assisting pop-up businesses in Detroit. Students can form or join teams until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, January 17), when registration ends.
Ford School Associate Dean for Research and Policy Engagement Elisabeth Gerber says the Social Impact Challenge “is a great opportunity for students to apply their skills, gain experience working in a realistic cross-sector environment, and contribute to developing solutions to some of our most pressing social challenges.”
Students will not only have the opportunity to collaborate with key Detroit stakeholders and see their ideas implemented, but also to compete for a $3,000 first-place award. Notwithstanding the prize money, students -- including many from Detroit -- are excited to use their academic training and knowledge to contribute to an important cause.
Charles Callis, a Ford School senior who plans to participate this year, remarked that “as a native Detroiter, I see a lot of potential in using pop-ups to spark neighborhood development. The ability to influence the process and work with business and governmental leaders is very exciting.”
“Pop-ups are a fantastic way for entrepreneurs to test-drive their business plans,” notes Christie Baer of the University of Michigan’s Center on Finance, Law, and Policy and program director of the Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project. “Our experience with student-entrepreneur engaged learning experiences has been nothing but positive for both the small businesses and the students who work with them.”
The Detroit Economic Growth Corporation, the school’s partner in the competition, is widely regarded as the leading nonprofit economic development entity in Detroit. “DEGC values evidence-based decision-making that is grounded in strong social values,” says Professor Gerber.
Ford School students, and graduates and undergraduates at any college throughout the University of Michigan, are encouraged to join the challenge.
--By Ryan Moonka, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Class of 2018