2017 – Bringing Social Entrepreneurship to Flint Neighborhoods
This year, the Social Impact Challenge was focused on economic development and entrepreneurship in the city of Flint, MI. The Center partnered with UM-Flint Outreach, the City of Flint, and Skypoint Ventures—a venture capital and real estate company with strong social impact ties. Specifically, the case (pdf) addressed how to advance entrepreneurship efforts in Flint to revive neighborhood centers and city corridors for economic development. Students from U-M in Ann Arbor and UM-Flint participated together. The top teams presented in Flint, MI to a panel of judges including experts and leaders from Flint:
- 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 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.