Social Impact Challenge

Past Challenges

2018 Social Impact Challenge – Detroit, MI



A record number of students attended the 2018 SIC Kickoff.

In 2018, the Social Impact Challenge is focusing on pop-ups, which can encourage neighborhood revitalization and small business development in Detroit. The Center has partnered with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) and the Ford School of Public Policy for this year’s challenge.  The details of the case were presented at the Social Impact Challenge Kickoff on Jan. 17.  Thirty-three teams will enter Round One judging on Jan. 29, and only three top teams will continue on to the finals on Feb. 6. The top teams will present to a panel of judges including DEGC staff and key Detroit stakeholders. Student prizes are sponsored in part by Scott Stewart. The winning team receives a $3000 cash prize and the opportunity for their ideas to be implemented!

The expert panel of judges included:

  • Alexa Bush – City of Detroit
  • Kyla Carlsen – DEGC
  • Brandon Hodges (MBA ‘16) – The Platform
  • Joe Rashid – ioby

Team Upstart [Nick Walsh (BBA ‘19), Michael Ralph (BSE ‘19), Shalini Rao (LSA ‘18), Brie Riley (BBA ‘19), Samuel Ungerleider (BBA/LSA ‘20)] receive first prize in the 2018 SIC.

The challenge began on January 17, 2018 with a record 144 students from 9 colleges at U-M. Of those, 22 teams with 103 total students entered proposals for the competition, and after the first round of judging on January 31, three team finalists were selected to pitch their ideas at the finals: Upstart, eMpower and Snap Crackle Pop-up. Watch the entire MSIC18 Finals Event on Ross MediaView photos from the Finals Event

The winner, Team Upstart, was comprised of five undergraduates from the U-M Ross School of Business, College of Engineering and the College of Literature, Science & the Arts: Nick Walsh-team leader (BBA ‘19), Michael Ralph (BSE ‘19), Shalini Rao (LSA ‘18), Brie Riley (BBA ‘19), Samuel Ungerleider (BBA/LSA ‘20). They won $3,000 for their innovative and research-driven proposal that highlighted a sensitivity to incomes and accessibility when choosing their ideal business corridor.  Prizes this year were sponsored in part by U-M alum S. Scott Stewart, Managing Partner at Capitol Seniors Housing.

The following teams won second ($1500) and third ($500) prizes, respectively:

  • eMpower [Sonia Jose (MBA ‘19), Saskia DeVries (MPP/MSI ‘18), Sanjana Rajagopalan (MS ‘18), April Shen (MBA ‘18), Aishwarya Varma (MBA ‘18)]
  • Snap Crackle Pop-up [Ali Raymond (MBA/MA ‘18), Kettiane Cadet (MBA ‘19), Elana Fox (MBA/SEAS ‘20), Marjace Miles (MBA ‘19), Hannah Smalley (MBA/MPH ‘20)]

Additionally, this year there were the following Bonus Awards ($250 each):

  • Best Branding Idea – La-La-Lady Bosses
  • Most Creative Idea – D-Impact
  • Most Ready for Implementation – 139 Squared
  • Social Media Prize – eMpower

Student teams spent two weeks intensively studying the economic and social issues surrounding Detroit’s neighborhoods, evaluated key neighborhood corridors, visited successful existing pop-ups in Detroit, and pored over Detroit history and data. In the finals, various ideas included a focus on ethnic strengths, partnerships with U-M for training and development, and a central community meeting space for developing a tiered pop-up strategy.




The 2018 Social Impact Challenge was sponsored by: