On Thursday, November 16 CUBE 4.0 teams will gather as a cohort for the first time to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week and participate in team building activities and an initial design thinking session with HQ Raleigh’s Liz Tracy.
CUBE has selected 14 teams to participate in its 2017-2018 CUBE 4.0 program. This year’s participants, whose interests span from climate change to mental health in Pakistan, will join CUBE’s growing roster of change-makers. Over the past five years the social entrepreneurship incubator, located on the third floor of the Campus Y, has supported nearly 30 teams of social innovators as they put their ideas for solving the world’s greatest problems into practice.
The 2017-2018 CUBE 4.0 cohort will spend the next nine months generating impactful social ventures centered around problems important to them. CUBE 4.0 will offer CUBE’s signature benefits like mentoring, access to a 24/7 co-working space, and seed funding, as well as new opportunities. For the first time, CUBE 4.0 is offering a supplemental Spring course, PLCY 490 Designing for Impact: Social Enterprise Lab, taught by Melissa Carrier, Professor of the Practice in Public Policy. A new summer incubation session will follow to allow participants to co-work full time on campus and in the field while participating in activities and trainings on social venturing.
Another program modification involved the application requirements. Rather than only accepting students with fully-formed venture ideas, CUBE required student teams apply with a strong understanding of a social or environmental problem. Their nine-month participation with CUBE 4.0 will shape how to best address this problem.
“We chose teams who exhibited a commitment to applying the mindset, processes, tools and techniques of business entrepreneurship as a force for good in addressing their selected problem,” says program director Laura Fieselman.
This year’s cohort includes undergraduate and graduate students from a range of disciplines including business, psychology, education, environmental health science, policy, political science, environmental studies, sociology, philosophy, biology, global studies, and computer science. Meet the teams below, organized alphabetically by the problem they will address.
Problem: Accessible Public Transit Data in Developing Countries
Team member: Eric Insler
His take: All across the developing world there are extensive networks of inter-city buses (and other forms of transportation) that are the vital transportation arteries of these countries. They facilitate homegrown business, tourism, and social networks. However, rarely is the information for this transportation available in any central location. As a result, people and economies suffer. Eric believes there needs to be a better system in place to help locals and tourists find accurate public transportation information.
Problem: Access to Coding and Computer Science Education
Team member: Angelina Patel
Her take: Angelina believes teaching students to code equips them with a revolutionary understanding of the world through the power of technology. However, most public schools lack the proper resources to teach computer science. In high school, Angelina enjoyed attending a computer science camp at UNC-Chapel Hill, but when she returned home to Savannah, Georgia there was no space for her to continue to build her burgeoning coding skillset. Consequently, she started a non-profit called “Savannah Kids Code” to make computer science and coding more accessible and approachable for her local community. Seeing the passion of young participants and the gratitude from their parents has fueled her desire to grow this non-profit into a larger social venture.
Problem: ADHD Interventions in Limited-Resource Schools
Team members: Katie Leelynn Biggers
Her take: While some classically-used interventions work for children with ADHD or ODD, they don’t work for everyone. In schools where resources are limited and teachers are already stretched, Katie believes a specifically-designed intervention is necessary. With the proper attention, small problems in childhood don’t have to develop to bigger concerns later on.
Problem: Climate Change and Marine Conservation
Team members: Lucy Best, Eliza Harrison, Emily Kian, Evan Rodgers
Their take: At the 2016 Bioneers Conference, Bren Smith, the Executive Director of Greenwave, presented about the success of his 3D ocean farm. Using a system of underwater anchors, ropes, muscle socks, and oyster cages, the farm can produce up to 20 tons of sea vegetables and 500,000 shellfish each year. Since this presentation, Lucy, Eliza, Emily, and Evan have become more aware of the opportunities and challenges associated with marine conservation and food production. Specifically, the team has taken a special interest in the development value and environmental service opportunities associated with sustainable ocean farming.
Problem: College Admissions
Team members: Joseph Nail, Wesley Price, Jane Tullis
Their take: FairEd aims to address the lack of navigable resources available for underserved students during their college admissions process. As Joseph, Wesley, and Jane applied for college, they realized that certain groups of students lacked the adequate at-home and at-school resources necessary to prepare a successful application – even if the students have demonstrated an ability to succeed at the level of higher education. FairEd seeks to tackle this disparity through resource location and cohesion while also maintaining a mentorship program in the resource area of college preparedness.
Problem: College Readiness for All Students
Team members: Andrea Barnes, Angela Chin, Destiny Talley
Their take: With little resources, African American communities across the United States struggle with enabling their youth to compete with students who come from more racially and socio-economically privileged backgrounds. Teachers and administrators wrestle with getting students to meet standardized goals with inadequate resources. Students have trouble defining their goals and role in society in face of negative stereotypes that are constantly pushed on their community. Andrea, Angela, and Destiny hope to improve existing resources and expand access for low-income students through policy and law.
Problem: Emotional Intelligence and Soft Skills Development for Young People
Team: Caroline Kennedy, Scott Emmons, Joseph Nail
Their take: A growing body of academic research shows the importance of life skills such as habit formation, mindset, and positive psychology for success in all areas of life. However, despite their importance, life skills are rarely taught in a formal setting. Caroline, Scott, and Joseph have conducted hundreds of customer interviews and found that 81% of people who do not currently dedicate time to self-improvement, actually want to dedicate time, but they do not know how or do not have a method of self-improvement they enjoy. The team believes formal courses teaching life skills could show students what to study and how to turn knowledge into habits that will transform their lives.
Problem: Food Insecurity on UNC's Campus
Team members: Robert Richey, Adina Girmay, Colby Kirkpatrick,
Their take At the end of the previous fall semester, a friend told Robert, Adina, and Colby that she had 113 dining hall swipes left and wanted to donate them somehow. The team initially thought there could be a way to share extra swipes with those experiencing homelessness in the Triangle community, but after some research, they realized that there may be a more immediate problem to address of student food insecurity directly around them. A lack of proper nutrition affects every aspect of students’ lives and limits their potential. The team believes that college is not a place to be limited, but a time to learn about yourself and reach your full potential.
Problem: Homelessness and Billboard Waste
Team member: Anastasia Soule
Her take: The billboard business model includes rapid turnover on signs, which produces an excessive amount of vinyl. Last summer, Anastasia was able to experience firsthand how this vinyl can be used for social and environmental good. She worked with Street Sleeper, an organization in Cape Town, South Africa, that transforms used billboard vinyl into sleeping bags. Street Sleeper employs 3 previously homeless individuals to cut, wash, and sew the billboards into bags. Anastasia enjoyed seeing the connection between the organization’s work and the Cape Town community. As an economics, public policy, and social entrepreneurship major, she hopes to integrate her insights from this work abroad into her venture.
Problem: Inclusive STEM Education
Team members: Lauren Casey, Rachael Hamm
Their take: According to the University of Alabama School of Medicine, 65% of the population are visual learners and 10% are kinesthetic learners. Targeting 75% of students, Lauren and Rachel’s venture, Tactil, strives to inspire creativity and encourages curiosity beginning at a young age. Currently, there are companies that connect teachers with 3D printed models for their classrooms, but they do not come with learning aids. Likewise, there are companies that sell classroom STEM models that come with learning material, but the material does not align with standardized curriculum. The models that are sold by these companies are upwards of $75-200+, whereas Tactil would provide a model and learning aids for significantly less.
Problem: Jobs for Refugee Women
Team member: Anum Imran
Her take: The scope of support for refugees in the US is limited, be it derived from government or corporation. Refugee women in particular are not given much opportunity to enter the workforce as the emphasis is placed on providing their husbands a job instead. Women are most often left at home with their children, or waiting for their school-aged children to return, but this time could be utilized to engage in a creative and skilled pursuit of economic mobility. Anum believes that with the right resources, refugee women can use their skills to create products that can be sold within their local community, and as a result establish a small business.
Problem: Mental Health in South Asia
Team member: Salma Baig
Their take: Salma was raised in Pakistan and saw many people suffer from various types of mental health disorders including depression, anxiety, adjustment disorder, as well as developmental disorders such as ASD and global delayed development. While mental health concerns are present across all communities, Salma believes problems are particularly high in third world countries due to a lack of understanding of mental health, the social stigma regarding mental health, and a lack of resources. As a graduate student studying school psychology, Salma is passionate about early intervention for young children and adolescents to get them the help they need.
Problem: Reforming Zero Tolerance Policies at School
Team member: Ariel Washington
Her take: Not only has research shown that zero tolerance discipline policies in schools are ineffective at deterring student misbehavior, these policies have also been proven to cause negative long-term consequences like increased risk for academic failure, school dropout, substance use, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. For schools, negative consequences include higher teacher turnover rates, antagonistic relationships between students and teachers, and unhealthy school climates. As a school psychologist, Ariel is committed to seeking alternative disciplinary solutions that support equitable and democratic learning communities for all students in every school.
Problem: Undocumented Student Access to Higher Education
Team members: Tiffany Turner, Cecilia Polanco, Breana Galdamez
Their take: Undocumented and DACAmented students in the United States have disproportionate access to higher education opportunities due to a lack of eligibility for public financial aid, scholarships, and work opportunities. This team plans to create scholarship opportunities through exploring community partnership programs and developing a new food truck business.