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This week, an inspiring group of mission-driven teams from UChicago advanced to the next stage of the 2024 John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge (SNVC). The selected teams plan to launch ventures focused on a broad range of innovative solutions, including  supporting employment opportunities for work-eligible migrants and refugees; improving social media literacy among students; and developing efficient waste management systems in Indonesia. 

Throughout the Spring Quarter, these ventures will dedicate their efforts to kick-starting a nonprofit or for-profit organization with a social mission at its core. Participants hail from Chicago Booth, the Harris School of Public Policy, and the College.

Six to seven ventures will be chosen as Edwardson SNVC finalists at the end of the quarter and compete for at least $150,000 in cash prizes on Tuesday, May 21.

The Edwardson SNVC is the social impact track of the New Venture Challenge (NVC), the University of Chicago’s nationally ranked accelerator program. The SNVC is run by Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, along with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

This year marks the 14th year of the Edwardson SNVC, which has helped to jump-start more than 200 startups that have gone on to raise more than $165 million. Notable alumni include solar-powered light company LuminAID, online voter guide BallotReady, autism therapy provider AIM Clinics (now Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers), Africa-based e-commerce platform Wasoko, Chicago-based nonprofit Debate it Forward, pathway to homeownership venture LadderUp Housing, and urban composting startup Demi.

2024 Edwardson SNVC Teams Include:

Blueline creates the throughline between political campaigns, retaining Democrats’ best talent in non-election years by matching staff with participating employers for short-term contracts. Blueline ensures that staffers maintain meaningful employment between cycles—and that Democrats have the campaign staff they need to win. (Booth) 

Chicago Brigade is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting student veterans with top US firms. Chicago Brigade accomplishes this mission by providing student veterans access to professional development opportunities and networking events. (Booth, College) 

Execute is a social media platform that empowers individuals to take action on the issues they care about. Individuals receive to-do lists of actionable tasks from activists, organizations, and influencers to support their causes. Individuals can also see the tasks their friends are doing, which creates a sense of community. (Booth) 

Iziko Ryacu is a social enterprise that produces and distributes energy-efficient clay-based stoves for rural Rwandan households. It aims to educate people on the benefits of clean cooking and climate action. It involves local residents in the production and distribution process, creating jobs and income opportunities. (Harris) 

KindEd is a nonprofit that provides a social media literacy curriculum for schools and advocates for policy changes across Illinois school districts. The aim is to equip and empower young people with the curiosity and knowledge to become agents of change. The curriculum seamlessly integrates literacy and social-emotional learning standards. (College, Harris) 

Kuleta is a digital marketplace that connects vendors of nonperishable goods based in Kenya with customers in the United States, starting with members of the African diaspora. Kuleta serves as a bridge between the local African market and the African diaspora abroad. (Harris) 

LexyAlgo is a fintech company dedicated to streamlining the divorce process to solve a massive gap in access to justice in divorce court. Free of charge, the service helps users rebuild their financial lives post-divorce. (Booth)  

Nosso is a subscription service that gives people the option to borrow products that are used infrequently (folding chairs, tools, board games, select kitchen appliances) and thus not worth buying. Nosso’s goal is to reduce the number of things urban residents buy. (Booth) 

OHR is a B2B SaaS platform leveraging conversational AI to enhance early career development, focusing on first-generation and low-income college graduates, by facilitating their transition into the corporate world and improving workplace integration and performance. (Booth) 

Palm.Guide offers a digital multilingual case management system and community resource navigation services, while using AI to assist with credentials verification, skill-based employer placement, and individual career journey development for workforce-eligible migrants and refugees. (Booth, Harris) 

Portal Tours creates and curates immersive tours and experiences within diverse city neighborhoods with an emphasis on culture, small businesses, and design. While highlighting the stories that make cities unique, Portal Tours provides a social and interactive space for locals, tourists, and corporate groups alike. (Booth) collects and maintains large-scale datasets on the structural integrity of buildings in the Philippines and generates building-specific structural maintenance recommendations for natural disaster resilience. connects local governments and construction firms with the demands of actual residents, who are the key stakeholders affected by a building’s structural integrity. (Booth) 

Reverse equips adolescent girls at risk of chronic health conditions to improve their health through strengthened connections to care providers and customized treatment plans that address unique barriers to health. The organization also offers leadership development training so girls can be stewards of their community’s health. (Booth)

Second Nature is a virtual farmers market, connecting consumers looking for high-quality, locally sourced food to small-scale producers in their area. Customers enter their zip codes, browse the available products, choose what they want, select a delivery option, and receive all their items in one convenient delivery to their door. (Booth) 

Sirkularis combines efficient waste management solutions tailored for middle-to-low-income communities in Indonesia with cutting-edge SaaS tools for circular economy businesses. Sirkularis empowers households and local businesses to responsibly manage waste while aiding businesses in optimizing resource usage, fostering a greener and more sustainable future for all. (Harris)

Taproot partners with nonprofits to 1) acquire e-commerce businesses, 2) revitalize the brands of these businesses by connecting them to the nonprofit’s cause, and 3) provide the nonprofit with a stable, scalable source of revenue to fund their mission. (Booth)  

The Dev Difference provides a simulated mock interview environment for candidates, allowing them to practice interview scenarios, receive immediate feedback, and enhance communication skills. This user-friendly platform is tailored for students and career transitioners, offering valuable resources to first-time interviewees who may not have an established network for technical interviews (Booth, Computer Science)

TrackPatch is a bioadhesive tracker that can easily be attached to children’s skin to locate their whereabouts, monitor their health, and receive critical alerts during an emergency. This product features a medical-grade, waterproof bioadhesive that ensures maximum reliability and biocompatibility. (College) 

To get the latest news and events planned around this year’s John Edwardson, ’72, Social New Venture Challenge, sign up here.

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