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RI students create startups at ChangeFest

On Saturday, April 23rd, change happened. Students from around Rhode Island and beyond united at Brown University for ChangeFest, an all-day, campus issue solve-athon. The event - a collaborative effort between Brown, theUniversity of Rhode Island and Founders League - was the first of its kind in RI.

The day kicked off with opening remarks from Founders League Community Manager, Kyle Nacci, RI Congressman David Cicilline, URI PresidentDavid Dooley, and Brown Social Innovation Initiative Director, Alan Harlam. Representatives from Design For America capped off the opening activities with a fun workshop to teach participants design thinking skills. Students then formed teams of 3-5 based on campus climate issues like education, inclusion, sustainability, free speech, human rights and health. They spent all afternoon developing startups that tackled those issues in an innovative way, with guidance from a rockstar team of mentors and a development guide co-created by Thrive URI and Business Innovation Factory.

The day came to a close with rapid-fire pitches from all of the teams, closing remarks from URI Chief Diversity Officer, Naomi Thompson and Brown Professor Barrett Hazeltine, and awards for best pitches.

In a single day, participants developed some incredible projects. 1st place winner, Shortcut, developed an app with an interactive map to help people with disabilities get around. Other winning teams - Recycle for Charity, Speak-EZ, uEat,Dynamic Education, & Pillars For People - were just as awesome! They proved that with a little bit of help, college students have the power to create innovative solutions to real problems.

Everyone was required to take a survey about their experience, and the results were out of this world:

  • 80% expected to continue working on their project
  • 93% felt more motivated to do something to improve their campus or community
  • 97% said ChangeFest increased their interest in the topic they pursued
  • 100% felt more confident in their ability to create a project

ChangeFest was clearly a smashing success, and we can’t wait to do it again next year. We’re already planning our next one, ChangeFest 2017. Our planning team will work hard all year to make the next ChangeFest even bigger and better. We just created the facebook event, so RSVP NOW! We’re also looking for entrepreneurs to serve as mentors and speakers, so email if you’re interested.

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