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International social justice competition comes to Brandeis

By Abigail Gardener

Section: News

November 4, 2016

The Hult Prize @ Brandeis challenge, an international social entrepreneurship competition, will be held at Brandeis for the first time on Dec. 3.

The Hult Prize Foundation, a nonprofit organization, hosts a competition each year in which social entrepreneurs compete in teams to solve the world’s biggest challenges. Anyone who is a student at Brandeis is welcome to form a team and apply, whether they attend the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, attend the International Business School or are an undergraduate student.

Teams must have at least three members but no more than four. They must be comprised of current students, but one member is allowed to be an alumnus.

Teams composed of a mix of students from different schools at Brandeis are encouraged. “The key to a good team is that mix, so that everybody can bring in a piece of expertise,” said Jennie Kelly, Hult Prize @ Brandeis committee member and second year master’s student at the Heller School.

To facilitate the formation of diverse teams, a Brandeis-wide mixer is being held on Nov. 8 from 5–6:30 pm in the Intercultural Center. Students from all schools are welcome. The purpose of the mixer is to facilitate a “speed-dating” type of atmosphere so that interested students can get to know a lot of people with varying skills in the hopes of forming a team, Kelly said.

Students who form teams are then able to register on the Hult Prize @ Brandeis’ website simply by submitting the names and information for all team members. An idea is not needed to register for the competition, according to the Hult Prize’s website.

The final registration deadline for the competition at Brandeis is Nov. 23. Teams also have the opportunity to pre-register for the competition by Nov. 11. If they choose to do this, these teams will be provided with a mentor session and an extra information packet to help them flesh out their idea, according to Kelly.

The final competition at Brandeis, in which teams will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges who are yet to be determined, will take place on Dec. 3. In order for the winning team to be eligible for regional competition, 10 teams must compete at the Brandeis competition. “The more we can spread the word, the better off we’ll be,” said Kelly.

Even if they do not win the Brandeis competition, teams will still have the opportunity to submit their idea via an online application before the deadline of Dec. 18 to be considered for the regional competition, the Hult Prize website said.

Kelly is very excited to have the Hult Prize at Brandeis this year, and hopes that it goes well so it can be an annual occurrence. She emphasized to students that this is a good opportunity regardless of who the winner is. It is a chance to participate in a team challenge and hone valuable skills, especially those that have to do with business and start-ups, she said.

The Hult Prize challenge is a year-long process. Potential competitors have to go through three phases of competition: applying online or competing at local competitions on college campuses, which lead to regional competitions (held at five cities around the world, including Boston, San Francisco, London, Dubai and Shanghai).

Winners of the regional competitions will attend the Hult Prize Accelerator, a six-week program of entrepreneurial seminars, and finally compete at the Global Finals, which are held at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.

The team who wins the Hult Prize at this stage of the competition is given $1 million to fund their idea and make it a reality, according to the Hult Prize’s website. The next phase is implementation of the winning idea.

Each year, former President Bill Clinton presents the President’s Challenge in September, which becomes the theme for that year’s Hult Prize competition. The 2017 President’s Challenge revolves around refugees and “will focus on restoring the rights and and dignity of those currently living in informal/illegal settlements,” according to the Hult Prize’s website

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