Social Innovation Solution Competition

The Social Innovation Solution Competition (SISC) offers BYU students from various disciplines the opportunity to come together and apply their skills to help solve real-time issues for an organization that has partnered with the Ballard Center.

Register Here

What is the Social Innovation Solution Competition?

A solution competition is an event, much like a case competition, in which teams of three to five students have ten days to analyze and present a solution to a social entrepreneurship organization’s real-world challenge. Solutions will be judged by a knowledgeable panel; winning teams are awarded cash prizes.

How is this related to homelessness?

Grappling with homelessness isn’t a position most of us expect to find ourselves in. But for thousands of Americans, it’s their reality and is found to some degree in virtually every community any of us will ever live in. This year, SISC is partnering with an innovative organization in San Francisco to provide BYU students with the opportunity to learn deeply and present impactful solutions while helping to shatter stereotypes and change the conversation around those experiencing homelessness. 

 

FAQs

Homelessness is a very complex social problem calling for involvement from the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. To work on homelessness in a broad sense can be overwhelming and bring accusation of a lack of focus and impact that can’t be measured. To slice up homelessness and work on a specific piece of the puzzle is much more quantifiable but can be difficult to scale up–considering how unique the experience of homelessness can look from place to place and person to person.

Lava Mae is an organization formed in 2013 with the specific intent to serve in the “emergency service” slice of work within homelessness by bringing mobile hygiene to the streets of San Francisco. To do this, founder Doniece Sandoval spearheaded the effort to acquire recently retired city buses and repurpose them into shower and toilet stalls.

The showers are critical, and the dignity that they help restore builds resilience for those experiencing homelessness. Four years later, Lava Mae has been asked by over 1,500 communities for their help in bringing the same service to their communities. The need is clear, but Lava Mae is being very intentional about how to grow in ways that make it easier for partners to implement quickly, overcome financial barriers, and run operations in a way that is customized to succeed in the communities that adopt the model.

At kickoff night on Monday, 23 October, at 7:00 p.m., you will be provided with a “challenge document” that outlines:

  • Lava Mae’s history – including the founder’s vision, initial growth in San Francisco, as well and expansion into other cities in the U.S.
  • Lava Mae’s culture
  • Reasons for varying levels of success
  • Investors’ interest in Lava Mae
  • The specific problem concerning Lava Mae’s growth that the founders are considering

Hard copies will be given to each team present, and email copies will be sent to all participants. The challenge document will be about ten to fifteen pages, including appendices. With teammates, participants will perform research on the challenge and potential solutions and create a presentation of that solution.

The document is written by the directors of the solutions competition who traveled to the organization to gather data and build a comprehensive summary of the organization, its history, and the issue to be addressed in the competition. This allowed the directors to become content experts on the issue so they can serve as mentors to you and your team throughout the competition and after each round. This also ensures quality in the competition submissions to contribute to the eventual solution for Lava Mae.

Registration: Individuals and teams can register beginning Friday, 29 September. Complete teams must be registered no later Monday, 23 October at 11:59 p.m. This coincides with the kickoff, held at 7:00 p.m. that night, which will be the last chance to be placed on a team.

Round 1: Teams will have until Wednesday, 1 November, at 11:59 p.m. to submit a copy of their presentation (Powerpoint, Prezi, etc.) and a one-page summary memo. All teams will then present a live pitch to a panel of judges on Thursday, 2 November, in a fifteen-minute time slot between 4-9 p.m. Each presentation should be ten minutes or less, allowing for five minutes of Q&A. The three teams with the highest scores on the judging rubrics, will be announced as finalists later that evening.  

Round 2 (finals): On Friday, 3 November, each of the three finalist teams will present their solution to Lava Mae and other social entrepreneur judges for ten minutes and answer questions from the judges for five minutes. This event will be open to all of campus and all SISC participants are encouraged to attend. 

We’re happy to connect you with other people who are interested in participating but don’t have a team. Register and indicate that you don’t have a team and you’ll be able to tell us a little more about your situation.

Register here.

Benefits:

  • You’ll learn to look at the world differently by developing solutions for far-reaching challenges while receiving feedback and mentorship regarding those solutions at each round of assessment.
  • You’ll work in a team of three to five BYU students whose ideas will spur and improve your own.
  • Whether or not a finalist, your ideas will be passed on to the founder for consideration and implementation.
  • If a finalist, you’ll be able to present your ideas to the founder of the organization in person along with other social entrepreneur judges.

Prizes:

  • Finalists will be invited to lunch with Lava Mae, BYU faculty, and local nonprofit leaders in work regarding homelessness directly after the final competition on Friday, 3 November.
  • The three finalist teams will be awarded a share of $9,000 prize money.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at sisc@byu.edu. Seriously, we’re interested in your concerns or questions and want to do our best in resolving them. We will respond to all emails within 24 hours.

Past Competitions

The Problem

Social entrepreneur and Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree Nathanael Molle founded an organization named SINGA with a vision of helping refugees in Paris integrate into the local community by connecting them with French citizens who share similar interests. He set up one-on-one meetings between a handful of refugees and Parisians and found that these regular meetings helped refugees develop a network and learn the language. All of the refugees in this initial group gained confidence, developed friendships, and found jobs to match their skill set.

SINGA has since grown in Paris to 20,000 active volunteers. SINGA now hosts and facilitates advertising for events that connect local citizens and refugees in addition to connecting refugees with housing via hosts who have similar personal interests and professional ambitions. Because SINGA was so successful in Paris, it expanded to other French cities and has launched in five other countries with different programs suited to the most impactful results in each.

The Competition

Over one hundred and fifty students from over thirty different majors across campus came together to learn about SINGA and apply their skills to solve this problem. This was by far the largest Social Innovation Solutions Competition BYU has ever hosted.

The Problem

Fairtrasa is a social enterprise that builds honest, fair and rewarding connections between the consumer and the farmer, based on a shared commitment to high-quality and nutritious food. In partnership with Fairtrasa, subsistence farmers lift themselves out of poverty and grow to be successful agro-entrepreneurs. However, in view of the massive challenge to lift millions of small-scale farmers out of poverty, Fairtrasa needs to take a fresh look at its scaling strategy in order to accelerate its expansion process both on the supply and the sales side.

The Competition

About eighty students from thirty different majors across campus came together to learn about Fairtrasa and apply their skills to solve this problem. Undergraduate students competed alongside graduate students in the semifinal round, which included ideas ranging from creating a spotlight metrics program, generating joint ventures with banks, and taking part of government anti-cocaine programs to give a sustainable alternative to farmers.

The Problem

The 2015 case competition featured Skoll Foundation awardee, Fundación Paraguaya. Since 1985 this organization has grown to include a highly successful microfinance program, a self-sustaining agricultural school, and many other programs to support its clients. In spite of establishing a strong track record for increasing incomes and having a 98 percent repayment rate on all microloans, people were not getting out of poverty.

In order to make getting out of poverty more manageable and measurable, Fundación Paraguaya created Poverty Stoplight. This program is both a metric and a methodology, breaking poverty down into fifty indicators that clients self-assess as being red, yellow, or green. Now that the organization had a way to track and define poverty, it needed to figure out how to motivate people to take action and begin to transition their indicators to green. 

The Competition

About one hundred students from twelve different majors came together to learn about Fundación Paraguaya and apply their skill set to this problem. Undergraduate students competed alongside graduate students in the semifinal round, which included ideas ranging from bike rental and lottery programs to a poverty stoplight Olympic program that gamified the process to leverage the positive social capital and competitive spirit of the people.