To celebrate the launch of Franklin Student Ventures — our incubator program in which every student will learn how to take an idea for a product, business, or non-profit organization and turn it into a reality — we recently held our first Young Innovators Competition. We invited local students from grades 6-11 to submit ideas for improving their communities through entrepreneurship and innovation.
We chose four finalists to present their ideas to a panel of entrepreneurs, designers, and educators for feedback and consideration. The judging committee was impressed with their presentations — and with the thoughtfulness and ingenuity that these young entrepreneurs displayed! Yet that doesn’t surprise us, as we believe deeply in the creative power of young people to bring about positive change and drive progress.
Livia shared her idea for Address, a community of modular shelters and services for people experiencing homelessness. The judges found her research to be excellent and Livia’s consideration of existing city owned land for possible locations to be resourceful.
Emre pitched his idea for Empathy, a gamified social media platform designed to incentivize kindness and altruism. His platform would use a points system to encourage people and organizations to give back to their communities through service and donations. Empathy points can earn users higher ranks that they can display on their profiles. The judges were very impressed with Emre’s ability to communicate his ideas and his plan to to use social media for good.
Divya presented her idea for Teenbrainer, an online platform to help teenagers who want to find support groups to connect with others to discuss mental health challenges like insecurities and low self-esteem and build confidence. The judges especially appreciated how prescient and necessary Teenbrainer is in today’s environment.
Ruhie presented her idea for DoGooders, a platform for connecting non-profit organizations and people who are looking for community-service opportunities. Her idea was born from the difficulty she experienced when trying to distribute hand sanitizer to organizations during the onset of the pandemic. The judges were really excited about the connection to her personal story and her roadmap for scaling the platform from the Jersey City community to an international user base.
Each one of these finalists had thought long and hard about what they could do to improve the quality of life for others in different and unique ways and we applaud them for their empathy and efforts! We are so excited to have Emre and Ruhie join us as Franklin students next year, and we will be supporting all four young innovators with mentorship as they prototype, develop, and launch their ideas for the Franklin and Jersey City communities.