The RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin and Dell are seeking undergraduate and graduate students from universities and colleges around the world to share their ideas for making the world a better place.
Students winning the grand prize in the 2010 Dell Social Innovation Competition will receive $50,000 to turn their ideas into a new business or nonprofit with a mission to change lives for the better.
The RGK Center introduced the competition in 2006 to engage students in social entrepreneurship, encouraging the next generation of leaders to dream up solutions to today’s most pressing issues.
“The competition is designed to spark the enthusiasm and idealism that exists across college and university campuses,” said Peter Frumkin, director of the RGK Center. “By channeling young people’s impulses to change the world in a positive direction, we think this project can generate a large number of innovative solutions to longstanding public problems.”
With Dell as its sponsor, the Social Innovation Competition expanded its reach to a worldwide audience of students in 2009. More than 500 students from 30 countries entered their solutions to deal with poverty, healthcare, access to potable water and a host of important social issues.
“Supporting the global community and inspiring students around the world is at the heart of our Dell Giving program,” said Gil Casellas, vice president of corporate responsibility at Dell. “The Dell Social Innovation contest is an example of how we can help change the world with ideas from diverse cultures and regions while utilizing the speed and seamlessness of the social media world.”
In 2009, three teams walked out of the final round of competition with prize money and new Dell computers to immediately start their global projects. The grand prizewinner, Gardens for Health, is dedicated to enabling people living with HIV/AIDS to improve their nutrition, health and treatment adherence through sustainable agriculture. The Gardens for Health team with graduates of Yale and Brown universities is working in Rwanda in partnership with cooperatives of people living with HIV/AIDS.
“Winning the Dell Social Innovation Competition was a critical moment for Gardens for Health–not only will the resources allow us to drastically expand our impact in Rwanda, but also the legitimacy that comes with the competition will allow us to effectively leverage those resources,” said Emma Clippenger, Gardens for Health team member. “In Rwanda, we will be able to provide agricultural inputs and technical assistance to nearly 4,000 HIV-positive individuals and their families for the upcoming growing season.”
Other ideas encouraged by the competition include, Embrace, a $25 infant incubator for developing nations, and I Need A Pencil, Harvard student Jason Shah’s free Scholastic Aptitude Test preparation Web site for underserved high school students without access to expensive tutoring services to boost their chances to enter college.
A special $10,000 prize for projects addressing environmental sustainability encourages students to focus their attention on solving big picture problems like the world energy crisis with ideas that start in their own communities. The Tomberg Family Philanthropies donates the prize money for this award each year.
To participate in the competition students brainstorm and submit a creative, innovative idea to tackle a pressing social issue and enter it no later than March 1, 2010 to the Dell Social Innovation Web site. Along with students, citizens worldwide are invited to comment on, vote for and discuss the ideas in the online community forum. The community’s preferences help select the grand prize winner.
Teams selected as semifinalists by judges and the community will be asked to write a business plan and submit a three-minute video for consideration. Of the semifinalists, three teams will be invited to Austin, where they’ll present to a panel of judges for the chance to win the grand prize.
Submissions will be judged on overall concept, demonstration of the opportunity, assessed social impact, financial viability and sustainability, demonstrated leadership ability, management team, performance benchmarks, assessed risk and contingency plans.
- Dell Social Innovation Competition on Facebook
- Dell University and College Relations on Facebook
- Dell Social Innovation Competition on Twitter
- Last year’s winners
About the RGK Center
The RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin introduced the Social Innovation Competition in 2006, awarding more than $200,000 in prizes to student social entrepreneurs. The RGK Center builds knowledge about nonprofit organizations, philanthropy and volunteerism, and prepares students and practitioners to make effective contributions to their communities.
Corporate responsibility is a critical component of Dell’s (NASDAQ: DELL) overall business.