Jordan Brewster_1's blog

2015 - 2016 Chapters Year in Review

We at Net Impact Central want to thank and congratulate our Chapter Leaders for the amazing work that they have carried out over the past year. Our network boasts of over 280 chapters, of which almost 40% went above and beyond to reach Gold status! We want to shine the light on some of the exciting initiatives held by the chapters in our network.

Entrepreneurs by Design

BAiD: California College of the Arts, Presidio Graduate School, and the University of San Francisco - School of Management
When asked to be a part of Net Impact Central’s interdisciplinary Impact Design pilot, three chapters in the San Francisco Bay Area rose to the challenge. California College of the Arts, Presidio Graduate School, and the University of San Francisco met at the 2015 Net Impact Conference, and formed a regional collaborative group called Bay Area Impact Design (BAiD). They’ve hosted three events so far, taught design problem-solving processes to over a hundred students, convened speakers from leading design firms, and generated dozens of solution ideas. BAiD truly exemplifies the potential of Net Impact’s network.

Pioneers with Purpose

Universidad San Francisco de Quito
The undergraduate chapter at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito organized the first “B-Day” in Ecuador, introducing the community to the B Corporation framework. The event brought in over 200 attendees, and was hosted in partnership with their university, CAF - Development Bank of Latin America, and Impaqto - the only B Corp in the country so far. The chapter is also making headway in helping with relief efforts for the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that hit Ecuador in April by joining their school’s fundraising efforts and investigating methods of supporting communities severely affected by the earthquake.

Innovation through Education: Specialize in Social Impact

University of California, Los Angeles - Anderson School of Management
The UCLA Anderson chapter hosted its third annual Social Innovation Week with the theme Ignite Impact, bringing together leaders and founders of mission-driven business who explored solutions to the world’s biggest challenges and inspired social change. The week featured design workshops, panels, documentary film screenings, networking mixers, and presentations on various topics of impact. It also demonstrated the high level of interest for UCLA Anderson's new faculty initiative, Impact@Anderson, and led to the approval of a Social Impact Specialization (comparable to an MBA major) the following week.

First Year: Rising Star

Bentley University

Bentley University’s undergraduate chapter launched just six months ago, but has already achieved Gold chapter status for the 2015-2016 year! For their first

major event, they hosted Ben Downing, Senate chairman of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy for Massachusetts, who spoke about the importance of green energy and how students can get involved. After the event, an attendee expressed that the talk had sparked an interest in pursuing a career in the public sector, and had the chance to connect with the senator! In addition, the chapter at Bentley has already established a framework for a Sustainable Careers workshop, which provides an industry overview from a professional in a sustainable field, sustainability career guide, resume review session, and elevator pitch exercise. Go Bentley!

Down-to-Earth: Doing Good in Nature 

University of Oregon - Lundquist College of Business

The graduate Net Impact chapter at the University of Oregon supported their local nature-loving culture by volunteering at Mount Pisgah, a 200-acre arboretum that serves as an education center, ecological preservation site, and hosts a network of hiking trails enjoyed by thousands. They commented that many of the people who passed by the trail work stopped to chat and simply say “thank you.” Thanks to our chapter at University of Oregon for keeping these spaces safe and accessible for the public to enjoy!

Career Treks: Exploring Impactful Livelihoods

University of Rochester - Simon Business School

The Simon Business School chapter took 25 students from New York to Washington D.C. on a career trek to visit four companies and to network with over 30 alumni, including former Net Impact members. The trek gave students a unique opportunity to network with professionals who share their passion for positive impact, and served as a great opportunity to demonstrate that it is feasible to incorporate social impact and sustainability into their career and lives. 

Enlighten and Empower: Skill-Building for the Next Generation

The Gambia

The professional chapter in the Gambia held a “Leadership, Public Speaking and Campaign Skills Training Workshop” in partnership with Activista, a network of youth campaigners and activists. The workshop gathered over 30 participants including students, teachers, and members of youth organizations to equip them with advocacy and campaigning skills to better promote the advancement of social and environmental issues. The trainers included leadership from both organizations, and a keynote speech was given by Isatou Jeng, a social worker, gender equality activist, and project officer for The Girls’ Agenda.

Timely Topics: Tech and Nonprofits

San Francisco

The San Francisco professional chapter hosted a debate-style event at Salesforce to spark dialogue between the tech and nonprofit sectors. The conversation centered around the question, Are corporations or nonprofit organizations better poised to affect socially impactful change? They invited Nicholas Aster, founder of TriplePundit.com, which is one of the web's leading sources on how business can be used to make the world a better place, and Henk Campher from Allison+Partners, who has worked on some of the coolest award-winning corporate campaigns and developed strategic solutions with companies such Starbucks, Levi’s, and Unilever as Executive VP of Social Impact. The event was hosted by Patrick Ip, Business Innovation Lead at Google, drawing over 70 attendees and creating a huge request for similar events in the future for the SF pro chapter.

Giving for the Greater Good

University of Texas at Austin - McCombs School of Business - Graduate

The chapter at McCombs School of Business partnered with the Graduate Business Council and administrative leaders to launch the Social Impact Internship Fund (SIIF). The SIIF is a student-run initiative for first-year MBAs to help fund their classmates’ social impact internships with organizations that otherwise would not be able to afford MBA salaries. Students were invited to become SIIF Impact Investors by donating the equivalent of one day of their summer internship salary to the SIIF Fund. So far, $11,000 has been collected from more than 25 first year students and $10,000 raised from alumni matching funds!


 

The UCLA Anderson chapter hosted its third annual Social Innovation Week
The UCLA Anderson chapter hosted its third annual Social Innovation Week

Healthy Eating, Made Easy with the Newman's Own Foundation Challenge

Barbara Donnini and Berenice Leung really just want one, simple thing: to make it easy and convenient for people to eat healthfully. To make that happen, they’re doing something that’s the complete opposite of easy: they run Sweet Fields, an organic, community-supported agriculture (CSA) nonprofit in Norristown, Penn.  A CSA is a farm that sells shares of its crops to its community members. The term was coined in the mid-80s but the concept has recently exploded in popularity, thanks to consumers’ demand to know where (and how) their food originates. 

While every CSA operates differently, most stick to this general rule: the planting, tending and harvesting is done by the CSA itself. Then once a week, paying members either drive to the farm or to a central meeting spot to pick up their box of food. By default, all CSAs are models for nutrition and sustainability: local, in-season produce that’s eaten within days of harvest. In addition, Sweet Fields is promising not to use: synthetic or toxic pesticides; plastic bags or produce stickers (the glue is considered to be a food additive). 

Founders Donnini and Leung were among our 91 participants in the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge, so we caught up with them recently to find out how it’s been going so far. Here’s what they told us:

1. How is it different from what’s already in the market?

In the future we plan on having additional sustainability attractions like a walipini, Earthship, edible garden scavenger hunt and a mycology center. [Compared] to a typical CSA farm, though, our biggest difference is that … we'll do small things that some farms don't do, like: take credit cards; have a great website for placing orders and allow you to choose your own vegetables in your CSA box. In the future, we want to expand this to include a drive-thru for fresh produce, as well as some prepared foods, pre-measured meals and possibly even a delivery service. 

2. What’s been the best thing?

Reading the comments on the petition we had to create when Montgomery County was going to delay our project until next year (which would have caused us to lose the whole project). So many people signed the petition so quickly, and all of the comments were overwhelmingly positive and in support of the initiative. We can't thank everyone enough for coming together for a good cause!

3. How has the Newman’s Own Challenge made a difference?

[It] has helped us realize we aren't being "over the top" with our serious considerations for marketing and business practices. Some of our close friends have criticized us for being too worried about our corporate/brand image, our business and market analyses, and our deep concern with customer satisfaction and interaction with the public.

4. Have you ever done anything like this before?

[We] both have extensive experience in the Philadelphia sustainability space. Others that work closely with us also understand sustainable agriculture, environmental stewardship, and nutrition very well, so although we haven't done this specifically, we've got all the right tools to make it a success.

Sweet Fields recently talked with the Norristown Regional High School Eagle Eye.  Watch the video below:

To find out more about Sweetfields, visit their webpage or find them on Facebook.

Read more about Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge success stories here.

Sweet Fields is making healthy eating easier in Norristown, PA's food desert
Sweet Fields is making healthy eating easier in Norristown, PA's food desert

Safeguarding our Food Supply in the Face of Climate Change

There is a silent extinction underway in the world of plants.

We’ve all heard of the troubling mass extinction of animal life, so it may come as a surprise to hear that seeds are in even deeper trouble. Since the turn of the century, 93% of US seed varieties have gone extinct and with them the diversity of our meals.  As clearly shown in the infographic (left) published by National Geographic’s John Tomanio, nature’s tastiest gifts have dramatically disappeared across the past century. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (the FAO), 75% of the world’s food is now generated from only 12 plants and five animal species.

This means not only less interesting dishes for our dinner plates, but has implications for global food security. With projections of 9 billion mouths to feed by 2050, the time is now to safeguard what remains of agricultural genetic diversity. An urgent race is underway globally to collect and bank seeds that may hold within them the genetic keys to drought or pest resistance – an insurance policy for safeguarding our future food supply in a climate-changed world.

‘Yellow flower’, ‘guinea pig fetus’ and ‘pumas paw’ are rich and unusual descriptions of just three of the over four thousand potato varieties grown today in the starchy tubers country of genetic origin, Peru. In Peru, farmers bred successive generations of what was once a poisonous plant, slowly developing it into the edible potato, each variety adapted to its local climate. Today, the homogenous potato that we recognise is the most-eaten vegetable in the United States, and the third most important food crop in the world after rice and wheat in terms of human consumption.

In considering the case of the potato, a trip to the supermarket is proof of the lack of diversity. Our most common experience is a choice between two uniform varieties: the russet potato or the sweet potato (which isn’t actually a potato). Familiar, unsurprising and homogenous. This pattern is being repeated globally. All over the world, we are now eating the same ‘popular’ varieties of corn, potatos, bananas, wheat, and more – replacing local crops. While modern varieties have been bred for taste, pest-resistance and high yields, our agricultural biodiversity has been vastly depleted and wild species are being lost.

How do we save what remains of global plant diversity?

One answer is seed banks. There are now more than 1,750 seed banks worldwide, with 130 of these holding more than 10,000 accessions (collections of plant material) each. In Lima, Peru, sits one important example: the International Potato Center (Centro Internacional de la Papa, CIP). Its genebank maintains a collection of over 80% of the world’s native potato and sweet potato cultivars, with in vitro germplasm available for international breeding programs.

Potatoes in space?

The CIP, just like Matt Damon’s botanist character in “the Martian” recently partnered with NASA to develop potatoes able to grow in the inhospitable climate of  Mars. Their test-bed is the soil of the Peruvian desert. This fascinating example shows the importance of saving seeds in order to be able to access their genetic material. Seed germplasm may hold the key to developing a new ‘space’ potato adapted for a drier, hotter climate in many regions.

Drilled into the side of a mountain in Norway lies the last stand against the loss of seed diversity: the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Opened in 2008,  Svalbard stores backup copies of other seed collections in its naturally chilled, earthquake-free zone 400 meters above sea level. Designed to hold 4 million seed samples on permanent thaw, it is nicknamed the “doomsday vault”. Svalbard is a literal seed fortress: built to withstand global catastrophes from war to sea level rise.

Despite it’s purpose as a ‘last resort’ backup, Svalbard has already experienced its first withdrawal less than ten years after opening. What catastrophic event prompted this withdrawal of lost seeds?

The Syrian Civil War

The ongoing Syrian war has not only carried a heavy human toll. Aleppo, Syria’s capital, was also the location of one of the most important seed banks in the world, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA). It stored more than 135,000 varieties of wheat, fava bean, lentil and chickpea crops, as well as the world’s most valuable barley collection.

In 2011, the seed bank relocated from Syria to Lebanon’s capital Beirut, to flee the ongoing civil conflict. Four years later, ICARDA withdrew nearly 116,000 seeds from the Svalbard vault – safely rebuilding its collection of globally important seeds. It’s drought-tolerant seeds may prove critically important in a hot and dry climate future. This was a win for seed conservation, and proof of concept for the global seed bank: saving seeds that would otherwise have become a wartime casualty.

Despite a global push to preserve the world’s seeds, the FAO reports that of the total 7.4 million seed samples conserved worldwide in 2010, national government genebanks conserve the vast majority (approximately 6.6 million) of which 45% are held in only seven countries (down from twelve in 1996). This increasing concentration of seed genetic diversity raises important questions about access and control, especially since seed depositors are, as is the case for Svalbard and CIP, required to sign a legally binding International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This subjects the seed’s genetic resources to commercialization by other parties and raises important questions.

Should seed genetic information – which evolved with life itself – be patented?

Since the commercialization of transgenic crops in the mid-1990s, the sale of seeds has become dominated globally by Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.

According to the report, “Who Owns Nature” by the Etc group, the world-wide commercial seed market is in the control of a small list of multinational corporations, with Monsanto at the top. Private companies use intellectual property laws and genetic engineering to “dominate agricultural production from seed to stomach and to profit from every bite.” This concentration of power is incompatible with sustainable and renewable agricultural practices. The leading sellers of commercial seeds are also the leaders in pesticides and biotech. Their seeds are genetically designed and packaged to be used in conjunction with intensive agricultural practices and its chemical inputs.

We owe thanks to previous generations of patient Peruvian potato farmers for our russet potatoes and potato fries. If a biotech company makes a slight genetic change to a potato to create a new variety, should they then be allowed to patent it and control the sale and profits acquired? This is the basis of a raging debate in the seed world. In the past, seeds were a communal, ‘global commons’ resource. Today seeds are increasingly controlled by transnational agribusinesses such as Monsanto.

It is therefore essential to acknowledge that whoever holds the keys to seed resources can wield a great deal of power over the global food supply, and by extension, farmer’s rights.

Grass-roots seed saving has emerged as a response to the loss of local control over seeds and farming practices. Seed Freedom is a global movement organized to fight back, urging “civil disobedience to end seed slavery” with a global “Call to Action 2016” planned this October. Here in the US, the nonprofit organization Seed Savers Exchage based in Missouri maintains a collection of 20,000 seed varieties in an underground freezer vault, also backed up at Svalbard. Seed Savers Exchange members are able to share and save their homegrown seeds with each other via their online Seed Exchange.

In India, female ‘seed guardians’ are also sharing and storing seeds locally. Their seed banks are small rooms filled with neatly-labelled pots and glass bottles filled with millet, okra, pumpkins and lentil seeds.  Rather than relying on commercial seed companies and expensive chemical inputs, these women farmers are conserving their own organic seeds for organic farming, in resistance to a market flooded with genetically modified seeds.

Community seed banking has become a tool of defiance against industrialized high-input, ecologically destructive agriculture, and a means of independence and empowerment. It protects a community and a country’s seed sovereignty towards a self-reliant, sustainable agricultural future.

According to the United Nations “World Urbanization Prospects Report”, 66% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 with an even more limited connection with agriculture. Therefore, it is important to propagate a widespread awareness and understanding of the significance of seed heritage and agricultural biodiversity, in hopes of preserving the diversity of seed varieties on our planet – an essential tactic in the fight against climate change.

As individuals and consumers, we can each encourage the popularization of heirloom varieties – as greater use of germplasm is linked to conservation. We have purchasing power to buy when possible locally produced, local varieties of fruit and vegetables, helping to popularize the diversity of our food supply. We can choose to support public organizations in their seed conservation efforts, and community seed banking and organic farming organizations working in developing countries. In doing so, we can all help to secure the diversity of our global seed supply, and ultimately our food security.

*Trendster is a voluntary, crowd-sourced initiative facilitated by SUMA Net Impact. It does not represent the collective views of Columbia University, the Earth Institute or Net Impact

This post was originally published on the SUMA Net Impact website.

Net Impact member Wendy Hapgood discusses seed variety and climate change
Net Impact member Wendy Hapgood discusses seed variety and climate change

Up to Us Inspires Students to Sound the Alarm on National Debt

In April 2016, the cover of TIME Magazine displayed a shocking message to all Americans; you owe $42,998.12. This is the amount that every citizen in the US, including children, would need to hand over to erase our national debt of 13.9 trillion dollars. Very few of us have an extra $42,998.12 laying around, therefore we need innovative and collaborative solutions to pay off our national debt. And even fewer of us know how big our national debt even is - enter the Up to Us Competition. 

What is Up to Us?

Partners Net Impact, the Clinton Global Initiative University, and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation came together five years ago to create the Up to Us competition. Up to Us is all about students engaging with their peers to educate and empower young people all over the US to have a voice in how we handle the economic challenges facing our nation.

This year’s competition started in October 2015, on the second annual My Two Cents Day, a student-led day of mobilization to engage, educate and inspire action among millennials on the nation’s economic health. In February 2016, 50 teams raised even more awareness for three week of creative and thought-provoking campaigning about the nation’s unsustainable long-term fiscal path. Some teams hosted seminars with professors, fiscal policy debates with members of College Democrat and College Republican chapters, and meetings with congressional representatives and local officials. Other teams held social events, including a debt-themed carnival, an interactive budgeting simulation, a culinary exhibition showcasing local food vendors and linking fiscal and environmental sustainability, and even a campus-wide scavenger hunt oriented around fiscal education. 

Judged by an elite  panel of judges, the College of William & Mary was announced in April as the winning team. The College of William & Mary team held several events, including a “Great Debt-bate” that brought together four political groups on campus to discuss fiscal policy, a dance workshop to “dance the debt away,” and a forum featuring millennial innovators in the fields of healthcare, education, and defense. They received a prize of $10,000 and were recognized by President Bill Clinton at this year’s CGI U meeting, which took place April 1-3 at the University of California, Berkeley.

Why is Up to Us so important?

Currently there is no consensus on how to reduce the national debt over the long-term, meanwhile the US economy seems to be on a path for continued debt accumulation. It will therefore fall on the younger generation to foot the bill. It really is “up to us” to work together to find a solution to this growing problem. Visit the Up to Us website to get involved in the next round of the Up to Us Competition to create change and innovation where you are and read about the 2016 Up to Us Competition to find inspiration.

2016 Up to Us Competition by the numbers:

An Up to Us Event at Jackson State University
An Up to Us Event at Jackson State University

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StreetSmart Concept Wins Mobility Challenge

For as long as we remember, society has sought to use the power of technology to improve lives. But how can we ensure innovation and expertise helps people from all walks of life? StreetSmart is a concept for an app that aims to do just that. Conceived by a group of students, the app concept would help people with visual impairments navigate surroundings with greater confidence. And today, StreetSmart has been announced as the winning team for the Next Generation Mobility Challenge.

What is the Next Generation Mobility Challenge?

Net Impact partnered with Toyota to launch the Next Generation Mobility Challenge in 2015 with the aim to inspire millennials to generate solutions for critical mobility needs.

“Transportation and mobility are closely tied to sustainability and social impact,” says Lily Mathews, manager of the program at Net Impact. “By tapping into the ingenuity of students, the Challenge promoted breakthrough ideas aimed at improving communities and our environment.”

“We know that the smartest solutions to our most pressing mobility challenges will only be found if we keep reaching out for new ideas and fresh thinking. That’s why we wanted to call on millennials, who are known for their passion for making the world a better place,” said Latondra Newton, Chief Program Officer, Toyota Mobility Foundation. “We love the StreetSmart concept because it builds on our work to help communities with limited mobility do more so they can go more place and live better lives.”

 Over the course of six months, students competed across the country to generate solutions for mobility issues focused on community, connectivity and sustainability. In total, nearly 670 students from 60 colleges and universities across the country pitched 150+ ideas. 

The winning team

A panel of judges from Toyota’s Mobility Foundation and Net Impact selected StreetSmart from three finalist teams, based on the clarity of its goal, project design, social impact, feasibility, creativity and the results of a public vote (StreetSmart garnered 63.6% of the vote). Esther Kim (Rhode Island School of Design), John Mathai (Olin College), Ayush Singhal (Babson College) and Niklaus Sugiri (Babson College) are the students behind the winning concept.  

Activated by voice command, the StreetSmart app would provide users with audio alerts about upcoming hazards or changes to their commute, such as broken escalators, bus service changes and construction sites. It would rely on existing GPS location services, crowdsourcing traffic technologies and real-time updates from users on routes’ conditions. The team envisions that the app would work in tandem with Project BLAID, a wearable device in development by Toyota that also works to improve the mobility of people who are blind and visually impaired.  For a preview of Project BLAID, visit TheToyotaEffect.com

The winning team has been offered internships to delve into a deeper understanding of the mobility needs of the blind community, building the business case for the StreetSmart app and supporting Toyota’s Partner Robotics work to advance the freedom of mobility for all. Along with the other two finalist teams, StreetSmart’s team will also attend the 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia this November.

How can you get involved?

Register for the 2016 Net Impact Conference to see the winning teams in action and learn more about the issues around transportation. Visit our Impact Transportation and Mobility page to stay up to date with current and future initiatives and more ways to stay involved. 

 

Team StreetSmart from the Next Generation Mobility Challenge at Babson College
Team StreetSmart from the Next Generation Mobility Challenge at Babson College

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Lessons from Empathy Week, an NIx Event

This post was originally posted on the Inside Perspective, a blog about Kellogg's Full Time MBA Program.

If I was like the 45 million Americans enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (i.e. food stamps), I would have $22 to spend on food for five days. Since I am participating in Net Impact’s Empathy Week and taking the SNAP challenge, my husband and I went to the grocery store to see if we could stick to that budget.    

Eligibility requirements for SNAP begin at or below 130 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, and nearly 44 percent of SNAP participants are children. We kept these numbers in mind as we walked into the grocery store.

We typically snack on red grapes, but they were $6 a bag — no way we were allocating more than 13 percent of our budget to grapes! We made our way to the reduced produce section, an area I normally pass by, and found cheap cucumbers and bananas — we felt like we cracked the case!  That is until we got to the meat department. We could only afford six chicken breasts since we wanted to buy organic, a decision we may regret later in the week.

No coffee, no wine, no chocolate, no cheese — by the time we went to the register we both had a newfound consciousness about decisions we take for granted at the grocery store.  

As the cashier rang me up I realized we had gone over our budget before she even included the whole grain bread that was a cornerstone of our meal plan (toast with peanut butter, not the healthier almond butter that was $15, and bananas for breakfast every day!).  Panicked and slightly embarrassed (I’m in B-school, shouldn’t I be able to do math?), I asked her to remove the romaine lettuce and a jar of pasta sauce so I could afford the bread and stay in budget. 

If I had been thinking rationally rather than rushing to not hold up the line, I would have asked to remove the olive oil I bought that had a sign that said $5.35 but rang up for $6.99!  This was quite annoying since I didn’t realize I was overcharged until we left. It made me think about a time I stood in line frustrated by someone arguing with the cashier over a dollar or two. I now understood just how much difference that dollar or two can make.

On the drive home, we also realized how fortunate we were to have a car and time to plan and cook meals.

While one week cannot come close to the challenges faced each day by SNAP participants, my husband and I have already developed a heightened appreciation of the value of food and the lack of variety and flexibility with such a tight budget.

The events of Empathy Week will provide me with a better understanding of the solutions and innovations that exist to help reduce food insecurity in America.

NIx is a series of regional events dedicated to driving social and environmental impact across the world.
NIx is a series of regional events dedicated to driving social and environmental impact across the world.

Ideas + Forward Food = Net Impact

It’s no secret that the food industry is undergoing a consumer-driven revolution and at Campbell we’re working every day to rise to the challenge.

Sometimes one of the ways to address a challenge is to work outside-in, and that’s why Campbell is the lead sponsor of the non-profit Net Impact’s Forward Food Competition—where the experts turn to consumers and ask, “What would you do?”

The Forward Food Competition is looking for business ideas that reflect new ways to think about our food system or food and beverage products that “meet a consumer need, as well as create economic, social and environmental value.” Contest organizers are asking participants to think like the founders of food start-ups– companies that have risen to mainstream success on a platform of socially-minded and environmentally-conscious innovation.

Net Impact works with students, job seekers and business professionals to empower a new generation to drive social and environmental change.

Net Impact is encouraging participants to focus on one or more of the following: to create a new or sustainable product; to solve food waste issues, or to improve food systems. An in-house team of Net Impact judges will review and provide feedback to each submission. Ten finalists will be asked to submit a one-minute pitch video to be sent to an expert judging panel (including yours truly), as well as Kirsten Tobey from Revolution Foods; Seth Goldman of Honest Tea; and Jerry Lynch from General Mills, also a sponsor.

Entries will be scored on four categories: innovation, market need, feasibility, and sustainability (social and environmental value).

The Forward Food Competition is open to anyone; the deadline to submit an original business idea is May 15, 2016.  Winners will be announced on Net Impact’s website on June 20, 2016.

Visit the Competition's page for more information on the contest.

Consider submitting those ideas—you never know how far they can travel and the impact they’ll have on this changing industry. It’s our joint responsibility to drive change and I look forward to seeing where they’ll take us.


Dave Stangis is Vice President - Public Affairs & Corporate Responsibility at Campbell Soup Company and President, Campbell Soup Foundation.  In 2008, Dave was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Ethics by Ethisphere Magazine. Trust Across America has named Dave one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior for three years in a row. He is on the advisory boards of the Graham Sustainability Institute at the University of Michigan, Net Impact, The University of Detroit College of Business, and the board of the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.
 
This article was originally posted in the Campbell Soup Company Newsroom.  It has been edited for clarity. 
There's still time to apply for Forward Food
There's still time to apply for Forward Food

Net Impact Reaches 100,000 Members

Since our founding in 1993, Net Impact has always believed in the collective potential of young people to change the world.  Through almost 25 years of experience, we have become the world’s best training ground for students and young professionals who want to make a difference in the world.

Today, we’re proud to announce another milestone: 100,000 members!

Meet Our 100,000th Member: Chelsea

Originally from New York, Chelsea is now a sophomore at Boston University where she was recently accepted into a dual BA/MA program.  When she graduates in 2018, Chelsea will have a BA in Environmental Analysis and Policy and an MA in Energy and Environmental Analysis.

Next year, Chelsea will serve as the VP of External Relations for Boston University’s Net Impact Chapter. She is passionate about showing companies that being sustainable is not only good for the environment, but also for business. Chelsea states, “I want to be on the forefront of people showing companies that being green isn't just easier than ever before but extremely profitable with today’s technology.” 

Net Impact is excited to welcome Chelsea and all of our new members to our community.

Net Impact reaches 100,000 Members
Net Impact reaches 100,000 Members

Top Teams from Toyota's Next Generation Mobility Challenge Event Series

This school year we partnered with Toyota to launch the Next Generation Mobility Challenge Event series. Teams of students at 15 campuses across the U.S. collaborated locally with other participants and competed nationally to generate solutions for mobility issues surrounding one of the following themes: community, connectivity or sustainability.

Now the top teams from each event have submitted their digital pitches to the panel of judges from Toyota and Net Impact. The three finalists will then be connected with Toyota mentors to refine their pitch further and all three teams will secure an all-expense paid trip to the 2016 Net Impact Confenence in Philadelphia.  Toyota's mobility experts and the public will vote for the top team.  The winner, announced May 8th, will be considered to receive a grant from the Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF), as well as get the opportunity to develop their idea further through a summer internship with Toyota’s mobility innovation partners. 

Here are the 15 semi-finalist teams and their ideas:

University of Michigan

Winning Team: Anqi Sun (University of Michigan), Allison Winnik (University of Michigan), and Anna Norman (University of Michigan)

Winning Idea: The team proposed a solution that would integrate installed technology into personal vehicles to enable commuters to share skills, expertise, and conversation while they travel. Rather than commuting solo, people could engage in language exchanges, book club discussions, or conversations about their local sports team. 

University of Washington

Winning Team: Bonnie Tran (University of Washington), David Meers (University of Washington), Fang-Ju Chou (University of Washington), and Caroline Engle (University of Washington)

Winning Idea: Commutity -- an app that helps tackle social isolation during the commute by allowing users to learn about their community, win points that demonstrate their knowledge, and fill out an experience map as they progress. The three modes of the app -- "Learn", "Quiz" and "My Map" allow the user to populate a virtual map around them that promotes in-person interactions with businesses. 

University of California - Berkeley

Winning Team: CJ Dubash (U.C. Berkeley), Jelani Bertoni (Dominican University), and Maggie Ford (Stanford University)

Winning Idea:  Eargo -- a product that primarily serves users with visual impairments. This small, hearing-aid sized headpiece includes a 180-degree camera that gives a combination of vibrating and auditory signals.The device include both a "destination" and "explore" mode to offer visually-impaired users the chance to stumble upon new and exciting attractions in their area.

Emory University

Winning Team: Mubeen Ahmad (Georgia Institute of Technology), Julia Lee (Emory University), Susan Elliot (Emory University), and Alex Shapiro (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Winning Idea: The Sherpa -- a location-based app and glasses unit for theose with visual impairments -- is a program that pulls together 3-D maps of different buildings and institutions to find GPS coordinates of destinations.  

New York University

Winning Team: Alexandra Letellier (Parsons School of Design), Clair Chun (Parsons School of Design), Paul Coronado (New York University), and Paras Doshi (New York University)

Winning Idea: Toyota Thrive -- a Toyota-sponsored destination point that allows users, with a membership, to check out different transit options (skateboard, bike, short-distance driving). The kiosk prints out directions, or syncs with a mobile device. The program also helps integrate users who lack the resources to get started. Members can trade in services for "points" using a local community fair to meet and exchange those skills. 

Georgetown University

Winning Team: Aris Morrison (University of Disctrict of Columbia), Emmanuel Balogun (Howard University), Si Chen (George Washington University), and Soundarya Venkatesh (Georgetown University)

Winning Idea: The Bus Buzzer is simple: it works like a food buzzer at a restaurant, but helps increase mobility for elderly or other users with impairments. As the bus approaches,users enter their destination on the screen on the bus. The driver hands them the buzzer. A minute or two before their stop approaches the buzzer starts vibrating. It repurposes an existing technology for a new context. 

Johns Hopkins University

Winning Team: Charles Gulian (Johns Hopkins University), Christopher Schilder (Johns Hopkins University), Mehr Pastakia (Johns Hopkins University), and Mayriam Robles Garcia (Johns Hopkins University)

Winning Idea: There will be 83 million people over 65 living in the US. HearIGo is a solution that leverages technology that elderly folks already use –  cane and hearing aid. It integrates Google Maps and GPS, simplifies payment methods by automatically paying his fare, and connects users to a safety method like life alert monitoring safety. 

California Polytechnic State University

Winning Team: Brett Wittmuss (Cal Poly SLO), Emily Foley (Cal Poly SLO), David Xenakis, (Cal Poly SLO), Lara Sly (Cal Poly SLO), and Tomy Tran (Cal Poly SLO) 

Winning Idea: Bus Buddy is a kiosk system located at bus stops to help overcome hurdles for those with physical impairments. The kiosk allows the user to type in a destination, and prints out instructions for you. It also lets you pick up a device that informs you when the bus arrives. When complete, there's a receptacle on the bus to return the device. It doesn't rely on a cell phone, and keeps it low tech for the users who need it most. 

Duke University

Winning Team: Jonathan Tan (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill), Jasmine Tan (Duke University), Paulin Grieb (Duke University), Naiwen Wong (Duke University), and Mike Papakonstantinou (Duke University)

Winning Idea: Ride Along Max (RAM) -- helps plan everyday movement for elder populations through prepared trips that help users  engage in city life and in activities with younger generations. Each trip starts at home with the user visiting the RAM website wit prepared trips. Then, a RAM shuttle takes the user to where he wants to go and connects him to people who are also going on this trip.

Babson College

Winning Team: Ayush Singhal (Babson College), Gahyun Kim (Rhode Island School of Design), John Mathai (Rhode Island School of Design), and Niklaus Sugiri (Babson College)

Winning Idea: StreetSmart -- a program that provides integrated real time community based updates into sidewalks to help people who are visually impaired. The solution would use the same principles as Waze. The app updates based on what individuals see on the street (traffic, accidents, construction, congestion, etc.)- and would improve upon itself with more updates from everyday people. It would leveraging existing technology like Google Maps and would allow people with disabilities to better navigate and feel comfortable and safe in their commute.

University of Oregon

Winning Team: Carolyn Taclas (University of Oregon), Keala Verigan (Oregon State University), Sydney Quinton-Cox (University of Oregon), and James Greisen (University of Oregon)

Winning Idea: This branded Portable Community Center builds off the thrill of community and connection at food truck block parties. The mobile truck will travel on a set schedule and use park 'n ride lots and bus stations as a host for different activities and events that will perk up the waiting time and what happens before and after commuting. The community center offerings could include food, activities, outdoor excercise space and could be easily tailored to users' needs based upon feedback. It's also a low-investment option that could test out the success of this format.

Northwestern University

Winning Team: Enrique Ferrero (Northwestern University), Maria McKiever (Northwestern University), Shangyanyan Li (University of Illinois at Chicago), and Szymon Gluc (Northwestern University)

Winning Idea: Alfred -- a solution that is about turning the personal vehicle into a personal assistant. It's a regular car with special features that leverages technology that already exists -- the car would turn on an Access Point to alert interested parties that the car could be selling services or products. Car is not just sitting around, it is getting things done while the user is doing other things. Additionally, the car helps sync your life with travel -- if you input where you're going, the car will calculate the shortest possible distance. 

Vanderbilt University

Winning Team: John Booker (Vanderbilt University), Jonathan Tari (Vanderbilt University), Joseph Hechter (Belmont University), Shaquille Blake (Fisk University), and Jacob Sheffield (Lipscomb University)

Winning Idea: Refugee Mobility Program -- this program  connects refugees with each other and carpool services. Refugees will go through a driving program, eventually get permits, drive around more and get a chance to get driver’s license while building a community. Drivers are given access to a vehicle and all they have to do is keep up credits. They can purchase their own vehicle and fully immerse in a new culture while building up credits.

Carnegie Mellon University


Winning Team: Nikhil Sridhar Rangar (Carnegie Mellon University), Swati Rajendran (Carnegie Mellon University), William Kurniawan (Carnegie Mellon University), and Yunzhe Zhang (Carnegie Mellon Univeristy)

Winning Idea: Smart Cycle -- a modular system (device and helmet) that transforms bicycles. It allows children to travel independently while building their social lives and reassuring parents. A few features of the device, which attaches onto bicycle handlebar, when the biker signals right, it connects to helmet and turns a signal on back of the helmet. it also includes an SOS signal to connect to parent and authorities. The system only works when the helmet is on, promoting safety. 

University of Texas - Austin

Winning Team: Armando Perez (U.T. - San Antonio), Joel Weber (U.T. - Austin), Laura Walker (Texas A&M), and John Adamo (U.T. - Austin)

Winning Idea: Able -- a high tech vehicle that integrates mobility assistance devices with standard personal transportation options. It is a customizable vehicle within a vehicle that makes the elderly or others with mobility issues feel more agile and comfortable. The smaller vehicles would take principles from technology like the Roomba to learn the layout of drivers’ personal spaces, while easily linking with car bodies.  It could be personally owned or owned by companies or hospitals, and allows elderly to feel more independent in their daily activities.

Students at Northwestern's Next Generation Mobility Challenge get expert advice
Students at Northwestern's Next Generation Mobility Challenge get expert advice

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Better Your Day with Better Bowl and the Newman's Own Foundation Challenge

UC Berkeley students Rebecca Moll, Leo Sakaguchi and Marie Ohnesorge are hoping to solve a number of earth-sized problems, one smoothie at a time. Through their startup Better Bowl, the young entrepreneurs will take produce that’s otherwise headed to the garbage bin and they’ll upcycle it, if you will, ending up with delicious-but-nutritious creations, such as the PB&J Smoothie Bowl: a blended base of blueberries, bananas and spinach, topped with hemp seeds, granola, honey and more fresh fruit.

The mission accomplished is threefold: reducing food waste; educating the public on proper nutrition (especially college students on a budget) and making proper nutrition accessible to a wider income level (again: college students on a budget). And the smartest part about their business plan? They’ll be paying half price for their ingredients, meaning they’ll be making money in no time (hurray for college students on a budget!). 

We caught up with founder Moll recently to ask her a few questions about the ideas behind Better Bowl, as well as how the project has changed for the group since they were chosen to participate in the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge.

1. What inspired this idea? I distinctly remember a close friend of mine sharing a statistic from a Food Policy class she was taking at Berkeley that over 40 percent of all produce in the United States goes uneaten. This number really stuck in my head and inspired me to make a change.

2. What’s been the best thing? Connecting with faculty, peers and industry leaders to discuss my idea.

3. How on earth are you managing to do this and still be a student? I really see truth in the saying, "if you're passionate about what you do, you'll never work a day in your life." I'm thankful to have a supportive team, amazing mentors and advisors guiding me in this venture.

4. How has the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge made a difference? The Newman's Own Foundation Challenge has been a great catalyst for our idea. When we found out we were one of the 20 teams selected to receive funding and mentorship gave us the confidence to further pursue our idea.

5. Have you ever done anything like this before? The Better Bowl is my first venture, but I've been involved with numerous food start-ups and sustainability and environmentally focused organizations constantly throughout my time at Berkeley.

If you're interested in learning more about Better Bowl or would like to get involved, e-mail Rebecca.

This is part of an ongoing Q&A series between Net Impact and the teams participating in the Newman’s Own Foundation Challenge. Learn about another team, FoodInno here. Continue checking the blog to see what else is happening behind the scenes with these ambitious food innovators.

Locally sourced, seasonal, organic creation by Better Bowl
Locally sourced, seasonal, organic creation by Better Bowl

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