Student social good startups raise $95,000 in T-Mobile competition – TechCrunch
A diverse collection of students with big ideas will share approximately $95,000 in prize money after participating in T-Mobile’s Changemaker Challenge. $5-10,000 might not seem like a lot for companies that make tens of millions, but for a kid just starting out, it could be the difference between pursuing and giving up on a passion project.
The competition is national and asks young people between the ages of 13 and 18 to submit their project, their business or the definition they want, and five from each of the three categories receive $5,000. One winner in each category receives an additional $5,000 plus a launch with T-Mo Brass and a chance for a final check for $5,000. You’d think they’d throw in five more to hit $100,000 even…maybe next year.
There are plenty of such competitions (last week was Microsoft’s Imagine Cup) and the ideas that crop up there are always of a humanly refreshing scale and intent.
Take finalist MedTechConnect, for example. It sounds like middleware for hospitals, but it’s two teenage cousins from Louisville who have now helped more than 2,000 seniors book vaccination appointments and other health care by guiding them through the digital processes that might otherwise have confused them.
“Access to telehealth is a basic human right. Solutions must be found, as telehealth will explode in the future…the vulnerable cannot be left behind,” they write. And they help in very practical ways – volunteer work for the digital age, perhaps, but also just a good idea: “general telehealth tech support” for people who don’t have a niece or savvy nephew consult on such things.
Just because people like Jacqueline and Amélie aren’t quite at Battlefield stage yet, doesn’t mean we can’t applaud their initiative and insight. However, they have one thing in common with many larger startups: a complete lack of a monetization plan. In this case though, that’s probably a good thing.
Here’s the full list of finalists, by category with winners first (descriptions from T-Mo and the contestants themselves, links to their cute little entries):
- Safe Teens Online (Guaynabo, Puerto Rico) A youth-led global peer-to-peer initiative that educates teens about online privacy and safety, encouraging inclusivity, safe habits and emotional well-being.
- Bridge the Gap Initiative (North Royalton, Ohio) A student-run organization designed to help seniors navigate the digital world by teaching them valuable skills like texting and video calling using their smart phones.
- STEM for the South Bronx (Bronx, NY) A high school robotics team with a vision to create an education center open to the public to explore the world of STEM.
- Scholars Program (Fairfax, Va.) An organization whose goal is to expand STEM education and STEM opportunities for underrepresented minority groups in the field.
- MedTechConnect (Louisville, Ky.) A group working to provide technical and personal support to ensure seniors are informed and have access to immunizations and basic health technologies.
“Equity in action”:
- MiSendero (Santa Barbara, CA) MiSendero strives to meaningfully integrate Latino English learners into their school communities by facilitating mutual learning experiences for all students.
- Books N Bros (St. Louis, Mo.) A virtual and in-person book club founded to amplify African American literacy and elevate stories with black and brown characters to encourage greater diversity in books.
- AUesome (Sunnyvale, CA) A therapy kit and digital app designed for parents, educators, and treatment centers to support children on the autism spectrum.
- Dorothy’s Calculator (Los Angeles, CA) A website that organizes gender identity information resources and provides support spaces for trans and non-binary youth in the greater Los Angeles area.
- Signisa (Dobbs Ferry, NY) An organization working to develop an AI-powered sign language learning app offering free and accessible lessons.
- Tobelli (Aurora, Ill.) Biodegradable food packaging that reuses the cellulose found in tobacco to create a thin, safe material to help reduce waste.
- STAR Food Sovereignty Project (Leupp, Arizona) An effort to expand local gardens and teach community members how to grow and prepare their own meals and help offset food insecurity throughout the Navajo Nation reservation.
- Recycle My Battery (Edison, NJ) A non-profit organization that works to reduce the environmental impact of batteries by setting up free recycling bins in public places in their community. (picture above)
- Open Source Autonomous Boat (OSAB) (Portland, Oregon) OSAB works to design and build small autonomous solar-powered vessels to monitor and protect ocean, river and lake environments and ecosystems.
- FYDER (San Antonio, Texas) An effort to recycle plastic bulk bags into flexible and durable 3D printer filament to extend the life of otherwise discarded materials.
Some of them are quite legit. Feel free to watch me when that pre-selection round comes around, everyone.