The Turner Family Center for Social Ventures presented the Hult@ Vanderbilt competition on November 7, 2016. The Hult Prize is a global case competition that challenges university students to propose bold solutions to global challenges. This year’s Hult Prize challenge is: Can we build sustainable, scalable social enterprises that restore the rights and dignity of 10 million refugees by 2022?
Vanderbilt student teams were presented with the challenge and given only a matter of weeks to prepare and present their solution. Kelsey Moore (School of Nursing ’17), TFC Programming Board Member and Campus Director for Hult@ Vanderbilt, directed the competition and helped organize interdisciplinary teams.
“As campus director for this year’s Hult@Vanderbilt, I am so proud of our teams. I watched as strangers came together, united by an interest in solving a great challenge, and persevered through the challenges of working on an interdisciplinary team with a tight timeline. With this competition, Vanderbilt students joined an international conversation about how we can improve the lives of involuntary migrants. Judges and guests at the Hult@ Vanderbilt competition noted that students were professional, compassionate, and sure to be powerful forces in making positive change.”
On November 7, student teams competed in a semi-finals round, followed quickly by a finals round, judged by a panel of cross-sector experts in the fields of public health, law, refugee services, and social enterprise. Our winning team, including Andreas Guentner (Owen ’18), Kevin Lubin (GPED ’18), Ben Rasmus (Owen ’18), and Thayer Rosenberg (Owen ’18), presented a solution called Code 4 All, restoring dignity through education and work, which will equip displaced individuals by teaching them how to code and connect them with companies. Andreas, Ben, Kevin, and Thayer were matched together as a team when they registered individually for the Hult@ Vanderbilt competition.
Their diverse experiences and disciplines made for a dynamic team. Kevin Lubin, a first-year graduate student in the Graduate Program for Economic Development (GPED) is a recent graduate of Millersville University in central Pennsylvania, where he studied Financial Economics. Prior to entering Owen this fall, Thayer Rosenburg (Owen ’18) served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nicaragua, followed by three years working in the global health sector in Washington, DC. Andreas Guentner is a former professional soccer player and financial consultant from Germany. Ben worked at a non-profit in Seattle focused at the intersection of hunger and food waste. Not only did they get to know one another, but they also networked on campus, across Nashville, and across the country and globe to ensure that their solution effectively addressed the pressing needs of refugees. Here’s their story of engaging in the Hult@ Vanderbilt competition – and the road to Hult Prize Regionals in March!
On the Hult@ Vanderbilt experience
Our experience with Hult@ Vanderbilt was awesome. Similar to other teams, we spent a lot of time noodling around ideas – we met four to five times just to discuss ideas. We were able to narrow about 12 big ideas down to just a few and went out to discuss the possible solutions with local experts to get their feedback about how best to move forward. For example, we consulted with Professor Robert Barksy at Vanderbilt who is an expert on refugee issues and who has led trips with Vanderbilt students to refugee camps. We also connected with the Nashville non-profit, NICE, the Nashville International Center for Empowerment, and with an employee at the Gates Foundation who serves on a board of a nonprofit that helps to relocate refugees domestically.
Kevin shared, “I enjoyed the experience very much. In the short amount of time, I’ve enjoyed learning more about my teammates and using our unique skills and experience to develop and present a great idea. In addition, we made connections outside of the classroom.”
On community partnership with NICE
In order to adequately address the issue, Andreas and Thayer reached out to NICE to solicit direct feedback about issues and problems facing refugees as they resettle in the Nashville area. They met with representatives from NICE in person who provided insight into some of the common issues refugees face here and suggestions to address these problems. The very useful feedback provided by Carre Coy, NICE’s Director of Development, helped our team narrow our focus and come up with a more nuanced idea that would be applicable to refugee populations domestically and internationally. Carre even came to support our team the night of Hult@ Vanderbilt competition! We hope to continue to partner and learn from NICE as we move onto the next stage of the Hult Prize Competition.
Preparing for Hult Prize regionals
With several months to prepare for the Hult Regional Competition in Boston, Ben shared, “We are super excited to dive deeper into the idea of how teaching refugees how to code can provide a livelihood and well-paying job. We plan to focus closely on the details of the business plan and how the idea can scale.”
We are using the many resources that have been made available to us. We will keep in contact with Dr. Barksy, Carre from NICE, and the TFC for guidance and assistance. We also have to continue developing our idea, so we will meet regularly to continue improving our presentation.
Reflection and gratitude on the Hult@ Vanderbillt experience
Hult@ Vanderbilt was a wonderful experience and we want to thank everyone who helped us develop our idea and the presentation. The event was a great experience and we were thrilled to be able to present with other classmates from various graduate programs from across campus.
“I would like to thank TFC for matching me with a great team, and I hope we can make TFC and Vandy proud at regionals!” – Kevin Lubin
Kelsey, Hult@ Vanderbilt Campus Director, shared, “While only one of our teams will go on to Regionals Finals from our competition, we hope that others will apply through the open round for their own place in the next round. The work they are doing is so important, and I believe they are all on their way to doing great things in this world!”
With special thanks to our Hult@ Vanderbilt judges:
Teresa Wells, The Threshold Group (Seattle)
Lindsay Daniels, National Council of La Raza (Washington, D.C.)
Kathy Edson, Emmy Award winning community engagement facilitator, previously with Nashville International Center for Empowerment (NICE)
Vanessa Lazón, Mayor Barry’s Office of Neighborhoods and Community Engagement, Office of New Americans
Mohamed Shukri-Hassan, Entrepreneur, previously with Welcoming Tennessee, TIRRC, and AMAC (American Muslim Advisory Council)
Amy Richardson, Siloam Family Health Center
Stephanie Teatro, Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC)
Samar Ali, Bass, Berry & Sims
Andrew Dustan, Assistant Professor of Economics at Vanderbilt University
Cabot Pyle, Dugas/Turner Family Foundations