A project focused on the plight of refugees carried the popular vote over other philanthropic ventures at the college's third annual "Ideas of March" entrepreneurial competition, but didn't win the $5,000 top prize.
Five teams of students presented appeals for project funding to a panel of three judges in the contest, which was sponsored by the college's Center for Civic Engagement and industrial supply corporation MSC Industrial Supply Co., headquartered in Davidson.
The student teams were vying for three monetary prizes—two decided by the judges and one "peoples choice" prize determined by audience members. The Davidson Refugee Support project received the second prize of $3,000 from the judges, plus the $1,500 audience favorite prize.
But the judges awarded first prize of $5,000 to the group "NAMES" and their project titled "Circle." It's an app to provide simple do-it-yourself projects and activities for pediatric patients facing long-term hospitalizations.
Max Feinstein '16, who developed the idea with Arianna Montero-Colbert '18 and Julian Bertini '19, noted that children can get easily bored and depressed during extended hospital stays, and that existing enrichment programs are only useful when a representative from the program visits the hospital.
The app, which will be coded over the summer, seeks to make this service available to anyone at anytime, so long as they have an iPad. App activities will include cooking lessons and a tutorial for landscape paintings. Ideally, patients will complete these activities with friends and family members.
Competition judge Stacey Riemer, director of the Center for Civic Engagement, said the judges selected Circle because it best met the competition criteria.
"The competition is about meeting a community-defined need, having a plan to meet the need, and doing it in an innovative way," she said.
The other judges were Davidson's Hannah Levinson, director of innovation and entrepreneurship, and Robert Breese, MSC vice president of profitable growth. Breese told the audience MSC was donating the prize money for the event in its third year because the students' work reflected the founding of his firm.
"MSC began as an entrepreneurial venture by our founder, who started his career selling tools out of the back of a truck in New York, and built it into a major corporation," he said.
The five teams that qualified for the competition had the opportunity to discuss their projects with Kristin Booher, the college's director of community service.
The three projects that weren't selected as prize winners were "Earth Kids" (selling artisan-made goods from India and Kenya in Davidson, and using the profits to fight human trafficking), a project to help the homeless in Denver design and market fashion goods, and a project to help low-income secondary school students aspire to college.