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Yale students vie for the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize

NEW HAVEN -- On April 16, students from across Yale will pitch their ideas for civic innovations that address New Haven community priorities — from new tech tools to novel social ventures — in a new program called the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize.

Elicker Plan
Mayor Justin Elicker's Transition Plan


Using a report compiled by Mayor Justin Elicker’s transition team and informed by recent community forums, Yale students are thinking about how they might help the city achieve goals spanning from arts and culture to health and housing. Yale is piloting this prize among its students with the hope that, if it proves successful, student teams from across the community will have the chance to pitch their innovative ideas to help the city of New Haven.

“As Yale’s entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem continues to develop it’s crucial that we leverage our resources to empower our neighbors,” says Onyeka Obiocha, managing director at the Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking at Yale. “The New Haven Civic Innovation Prize is a clear pathway to foster student innovation in service of the New Haven community.”

Teams vying for this $10,000 prize will compete at Startup Yale – a celebration of the entrepreneurial spirit that culminates in several pitch competitions awarding cash prizes to the strongest ventures. This year, due to the impact of COVID-19, the event will be held online. While Startup Yale has been around for half a decade, this is the first year of the New Haven Civic Innovation Prize which was developed to directly connect student innovations with the city of New Haven.

A dozen teams submitted applications for consideration, and four of the most promising will compete for the cash award and the opportunity to work with New Haven.  The student-led innovations making the final round include:

  • DreamKit is a 501(c)3 social impact start-up that creates a city-wide data-driven ecosystem that supports homeless youth financially, socially, and professionally.
  • Havenly Treats is a food business and job and leadership training program for refugee women. Havenly is women-run and its objective is to become refugee-run by 2030.
  • WISSP (The Widely-Integrated Social Services Platform) is a social safety net for housing unstable Connecticut residents. The platform networks tenants, landlords, and social services together to improve housing outcomes.
  • Cambium Carbon works to plant 1 billion new trees in the US by 2030. They facilitate a new urban forest economy by linking existing independent players and connecting national-scale funding and partners to local circular economy initiatives across the US to provide the necessary momentum to catalyze change.

Judges for this prize competition will include members of the local community, such as Sarah Miller, Co-chair of Mayor Elicker's transition team and Michael Harris, executive director of the New Haven Innovation Collaborative.

You can watch teams compete for this and other prizes on April 16-17 through the Zoom platform.  Registration is free and can be found here.

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