AccessArc and JoinGiving take home top prizes in nationally ranked accelerator competition, which awarded $50,000 to student startups
The Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI) at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business is pleased to announce the winners of the John Edwardson, '72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC), the social entrepreneurship track of the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation’s nationally ranked Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge (NVC).
The SNVC, founded in 2011, launches enterprises from across UChicago with social-impact missions and plans for financial sustainability.
First Place Prize:
AccessArc, a socially conscious legal technology company, and JoinGiving, a digital platform that helps companies court customers through the causes they support, tied for first place. Each first-place team received $20,000 in prize money. AccessArc seeks to mitigate the effects of mass incarceration by increasing accessibility to legal advocacy for currently incarcerated individuals and their families and to reduce the public burden caused by mass incarceration. JoinGiving pairs businesses with nonprofits and manages a gift card donation process that provides a new way for nonprofits to connect with Millennial supporters and for businesses to reach new customers.
Third Place Prize:
KitcheNet, an organization that provides heathy meals to families living in food deserts, and Solar Bus 4 Schools, a technology solution company that lowers diesel emissions in school buses, tied for third place. Each team received $5,000 in prize money. KitcheNet connects community centers, public kitchens, and cooks to provide affordable, healthy meals for vulnerable families living in food deserts. Solar Bus 4 Schools aims to lower children’s exposure to diesel emissions by engineering school buses that integrate solar energy, hybrid electric drivetrain, idle reduction, and GPS mapping to reduce in-cabin emissions at a low cost.
There were no second place winners. Other finalists were ACT3, Mind Matters and ReadAskChat.
SNVC finalists share in $240,000 of in-kind services including office space, legal services, and professional consulting. More than 70 judges—including experienced social and traditional entrepreneurs, impact investors, nonprofit leaders, and Chicago Booth alumni—provided feedback throughout the program. Judges included Rachel Kohler, ’89, founding principle of KoHop Ventures and CEO of NowPow; Eric Weinheimer, ’94, president and CEO of Forefront; and Marguerite H. Griffin, director of philanthropic services at Northern Trust. A full list can be found on the SNVC website.
The SNVC is the cornerstone of the new Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program, which expands resources and programming available to UChicago students, alumni, and faculty interested in social-impact startups. UChicago Trustee and Booth alumnus John Edwardson, ’72, donated $5 million earlier this month to establish the Edwardson Program, building on his initial $5 million gift in 2013. Edwardson is the retired chairman and CEO of CDW.
"This year’s SNVC teams brought innovative solutions to a range of social, environmental, and cultural problems," said Robert H. Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance and faculty co-director of SEI. "With the of the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program, SEI now has even more resources to support these teams and all of UChicago’s social entrepreneurs as they take on big, global issues.”
About the Social Enterprise Initiative
Since its inception in 2012, Chicago Booth’s Social Enterprise Initiative has served as a research and learning center for students, alumni and faculty who aspire to solve social, environmental and cultural problems. Through programming and curricular development, SEI equips students and alumni with the knowledge, network, and experience needed to make an impact on societal issues. SNVC alumni include LuminAID, Moneythink, and BallotReady, among others.