From food deserts and school bus emissions to end-of-life planning and legal access, the sixth annual John Edwardson, '72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC) featured new ideas to tough social and environmental problems. On May 24, the seven SNVC finalist teams pitched their social impact start-ups to a panel of judges including Rachel Kohler, ’89, founding principle of KoHop Ventures and CEO of NowPow; Eric Weinheimer, ’94, president and CEO of Forefront; and Marguerite H. Griffin, director of philanthropic services at Northern Trust.

Judges awarded the following prizes:

  • First Place Prize: AccessArc, a socially conscious legal technology company, and JoinGiving, a digital platform that helps companies court customers through the causes they support, tied for first place. Each first-place team received $20,000 in prize money.

  • Third Place Prize: KitcheNet, an organization that provides heathy meals to families living in food deserts, and Solar Bus 4 Schools, a technology solution company that lowers diesel emissions in school buses, tied for third place. Each team received $5,000 in prize money.

There were no second place winners. Other finalists were ACT3, Mind Matters, and ReadAskChat.

The social impact track of the Edward L. Kaplan, '71, New Venture Challenge, the SNVC is the cornerstone of the new Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program, which expands resources and programming available to UChicago students, alumni, and faculty interested in social-impact startups. UChicago Trustee and Booth alumnus John Edwardson, ’72, donated $5 million earlier this month to establish the Edwardson Program, building on his initial $5 million gift in 2013. Edwardson is the retired chairman and CEO of CDW.

"This year’s SNVC teams brought innovative solutions to a range of social, environmental, and cultural problems," said Robert H. Gertner, Joel F. Gemunder Professor of Strategy and Finance and faculty co-director of Chicago Booth's Social Enterprise Initiative (SEI). "With the of the Edwardson Social Entrepreneurship Program, SEI now has even more resources to support these teams and all of UChicago’s social entrepreneurs as they take on big, global issues.”