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$100,000 in grant money for new ideas — Get Involved in the President’s Challenge (3/20 deadline)

posted Mar 7, 2012, 12:06 PM by Andrew Rosenthal
A guest post by

The President’s Challenge is a new initiative, hosted by the i-lab and sponsored by Drew Faust, that asks students to contribute their ideas to help change the world.  Teams are asked to submit their ideas by March 20; ten finalist teams will be awarded $5,000 each on April 2; the grand-prize winner and up to three runners up will be awarded up to $100,000.
The Challenge’s five global issues have been defined by a panel of Harvard faculty.  They are: clean water, personal health, empowering education, global health, and clean air.
It sounds like a tall order, but the Challenge is a vehicle for students to make an impact.  All kinds of ideas are welcome to enter, whether their positive impact is intentionally designed or a happy byproduct of the venture; ideas will not be excluded for not being directly driven by the specified area of social impact.  Projects that have a second-level connectedness to the global issues are totally eligible for entry.
For example, a restaurant concept that focuses on healthy food absolutely falls under the personal health issue, as providing healthy alternatives to average restaurants is an important step in the fight against obesity.  Similarly, a platform that empowers childcare providers to teach the children in their care is eligible for entry in the education category, although this teaching will not take place inside a school.  Lots of ideas and technologies that are in development meet the standard of second-level connectedness, and they are welcomed for entry into the Challenge.
For-profit ideas are as welcome as non-profit ideas. The full information is on the website, but if potential participants have any kind of concerns regarding the Challenge, whether about their eligibility, the suitability of their ideas, how to formulate a proposal—please direct them to Challenge Coordinator Kate Range (
If you don’t have a project to enter, join a team—a lot of people who already have ideas are looking for teammates with skills.  As this is a cross-disciplinary, University-wide initiative, students from different schools are encouraged to work together to leverage each other’s skill sets.  The team matching page is a great way to do this.  You can enter your information and wait for someone to contact you, browse the list and reach out to someone who’s working on something interesting to you, or both.  The link is here  Joining a team is a fantastic way to participate.
Initial proposals are due on Tuesday, March 20.  The i-lab will support participant teams throughout the Challenge process and is committed to helping students bring their ideas to action.
Kate Range
Project Coordinator
The President’s Challenge
Harvard i-lab
T: (617) 496-6425