University Teams Leverage Technology to Help Nonprofit Organizations Solve Challenges
Student teams from Cornell University and Georgetown University have been named winners of the 2015 Accenture U.S. Innovation Challenge. The annual competition, launched in 2012, gives students an opportunity to develop solutions for challenges faced by nonprofit organizations. The winning teams are then paired with Accenture management consultants who work with the students on a pro-bono basis to implement their ideas. This year, the program will help nonprofit organizations Ashoka and World Vision International meet their growth and development goals.
“They didn’t concentrate just on a concept, but also spent time understanding the challenges of implementation, which added a sense of realism to the challenge.”
“The teams have developed innovative, scalable and sustainable solutions to support the good work of Ashoka and World Vision and help the organizations expand their impact,” said Marty Rodgers, managing director of Accenture’s nonprofit practice. “Working with students and nonprofits is a critical part of Accenture’s ongoing efforts to change the way the world works and lives.”
The 2015 Challenge had a record number of participants, with more than 1,200 undergraduate and advanced-degree university applicants and 595 students selected to compete. This year’s Challenge included 15 participating universities and four diversity organizations, with the winners selected following three rounds of competition from the fall of 2014 to January 2015. The competition was divided into undergraduate and graduate categories.
Undergraduate student teams were assigned the task of helping Ashoka determine how to improve the skillsets of its U.S. workforce by creating a talent development model to be delivered through industry partnerships across multiple mediums. Ashoka focuses on bringing together people, resources and ecosystems needed to spur social change. The organization provides start-up financing, professional support services and connections to a global network in order to engage entrepreneurial talent to solve complex social problems. A team of undergraduate students from Georgetown University created the winning solution, “weLearn,” a training site that leverages massive open online courses, business case studies and other existing materials.
“Partnering with key teams from Accenture, students and our social entrepreneurs through the Innovation Challenge came at the perfect time to showcase the power of working collaboratively to enable talent development focused on addressing social sector challenges,” said Jason Bernhardt-Lanier, Global Talent Lead, Ashoka.
Graduate students were challenged with developing a solution to support World Vision’s mission of working with children, families and communities worldwide to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice. As a part of that mission, World Vision provides emergency assistance to children and families in fragile contexts, or areas affected by natural disasters and civil conflict. Specifically, the advanced-degree students were asked to determine a way to provide primary education to children in such situations. The winning team from Cornell University developed “Pillars of Clouds,” a flexible education model focused on bridging student learning gaps.
“I was most impressed by the quality of the thinking displayed in the work of each team,” said Dave Young, chief operating officer, World Vision International. “They didn’t concentrate just on a concept, but also spent time understanding the challenges of implementation, which added a sense of realism to the challenge.”
In Accenture’s 2014 Innovation Challenge, teams of undergraduate students from the University of Pennsylvania and advanced-degree students from the University of Michigan were selected to work with Accenture to support the nonprofit organizations Goodwill Industries International and Usher’s New Look Foundation.
Learn more about the Innovation Challenge, Accenture’s human service and nonprofit work, and its global program, Delivering Public Service for the Future.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 319,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. www.accenture.com.
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