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NFTE Awards Over $16K to Innovation Challenge Winners

Young entrepreneurs were rewarded for their creative ideas to advance the UN's Global Goals.

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) recently announced the winners of the NFTE World Series of Innovation (WSI) for the 2021-2022 school year. Twenty-one teams of emerging social entrepreneurs won a total of $16,800 for their proposed solutions to WSI’s seven challenges. Each of these focused on advancing a United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).

The World Series of Innovation is an annual global competition that invites young people ages 13 to 24 to tackle innovation challenges aligned with the UN SDGs. The challenges help young people learn about the critical issues addressed by the UN Global Goals while developing their entrepreneurial mindset. NFTE’s World Series of Innovation challenge series is presented by the Citi Foundation. Additional support comes from leading global companies that prioritize investment in the UN SDGs.

“Every year, teams of young people from across the world tap into their creativity for innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and CEO of NFTE. “Young people are bold and ambitious and often motivated by what they’re passionate about. WSI offers them an opportunity to develop their ideas. It rewards them for thinking creatively about issues such as poverty, equity and inclusion and social and environmental justice.”

2021-2022 NFTE Innovation Challenges

The seven innovation challenges offered in the 2021-2022 competition were supported by Bank of the West; Citi Foundation; Mary Kay Inc.; Saint-Gobain North America; Ernst & Young, LLP (EY); Maxar Technologies; and PIMCO. Volunteer judges from these and other organizations ran coaching sessions for student competitors or served on judging panels. Executives from the supporting companies adjudicated the final round. In total, more than 280 volunteers put in more than 800 hours supporting the competition.

“As longtime supporters of NFTE, we see the tremendous value in fostering entrepreneurial thinking in youth as a way to drive inclusive economic growth,” added Brandee McHale, Head of Citi Community Investing and Development and President of the Citi Foundation. “WSI nurtures the next generation of diverse young entrepreneurs by giving them the freedom to showcase their creative potential while finding solutions to global challenges.”

Thousands of young people across the U.S. and other countries around the world began working on the challenges last fall. Judging concluded in March and prizes are currently being awarded to the top finishers in each challenge category. First place winners receive $1,500, second place winners receive $600 and third place winners receive $300.

World Series of Innovation winners, listed by challenge category:

Bank of the West Move on Climate Challenge (SDG 13) winning ideas:

  • First Place: eCircular, a digital application and e-waste ecosystem that incentivizes consumers to recycle their used electronics. Developed by 18-year-old Robin Ye in Singapore.
  • Second Place: Rainbow Paper, a paper solution created from rice straws to solve air pollution caused by rice straw burning in Vietnam. Developed by 15-year-old Huy Phon Vu and 15-year-old Hoang Hung Vo, students at British Vietnamese International School in Hanoi, Vietnam and Vinschool Times City in Hanoi, Vietnam respectively.
  • Third Place: TradiFoodMarket, an app that aims to make food markets in Taiwan more efficient by allowing vendors to connect directly with consumers. Developed by 16-year-old Cai-Xuan Lin, 16-year-old Yusin Hsiao, and 16-year-old Cheng-Yang Ho, students at Kang Chiao International School in New Taipei City, Taiwan.

Citi Foundation Inclusive Growth Challenge (SDG 8) winning ideas:

  • First Place: Luminous Teen, a teenage freelancing platform where teenagers’ passions and talents can connect with markets that need services. Submitted by 18-year-old Nasif Iqbal, 18-year-old Sabrina Tasnim, 18-year-old Aumio Sarker and 14-year-old Ahnaf Ilman, students at Notre Dame College in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Sabujbagh Government College in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Wordbridge School in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Residential Model College in Dhaka, Bangladesh, respectively.
  • Second Place: Seattle Trims, a nonprofit providing complimentary haircuts and resume preparation to unemployed individuals in the Seattle area. Developed by 18-year-old Cameron Sandoval, 16-year-old Michelle Wu, 18-year-old Meghan Reiner, and 17-year-old Kevin Shao. Students at Mercer Island High School in Mercer Island Washington, Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California, Jserra Catholic High School in San Juan Capistrano, California, and Mountain View High School in Mountain View, California, respectively.
  • Third Place: Education$Go, a website that provides personalized scholarship opportunities to under-resourced students. Developed by 16-year-old Angelina Lezcano, a student at Coral Gables Senior High School in Coral Gables, Florida.

EY Collaborate for Impact Challenge (SDG 17) winning ideas:

  • First Place: MVMNT, an app that partners eco-conscious consumers with local green businesses and activism networks to foster sustainable lifestyles. Developed by 16-year-old Jason Lin, 16-year-old Daniel Shi, 16-year-old Jack Harman and 16-year-old Eric Wang, students at Cranbrook Kingswood School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
  • Second Place: AUesome, a social enterprise aiming to improve access to therapy for children by creating specialized kits and app-based support. Developed by 16-year-old Anshul Gupta, 17-year-old Isabella He, and 18-year-old Andrew Kim, students at Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, California, Mission San Jose High School in Fremont California and University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California, respectively.
  • Third Place: DIGS, a blockchain-based smart grid that aims to increase electric efficiency and drive the transition to renewable energy. Developed by 17-year-old Evan Tok, s student at Catholic High School PJ in Selangor, Malaysia.

Mary Kay Gender Equality Challenge (SDG 5) winning ideas:

  • First Place: STEMinists, an online portal that connects female professionals to mentor young female STEM students. Developed by 15-year-old Misaki Nguyen, a student at Silver Creek High School in San Jose, California.
  • Second Place: Pads for Peace, a feminine product subscription service that donates one box to homeless shelters per box purchased. Developed by 14-year-old Ashley Cohen, 14-year-old Olivia Mooney and 14-year-old Ashley Simonian, students at Brentwood School in Los Angeles, California.
  • Third Place: Black Girls Mean Business, virtual summer business program matching Black high school girls with leading business mentors.  Developed by 17-year-old Brianna Holmes, 18-year-old Cherry Zhang, 17-year-old Alyssa Torres and 17-year-old Rachel Holmes, students at Silver Creek High School in San Jose, California.

Maxar Resilience from Space Challenge (SDG 11) winning ideas:

  • First Place: Eagle Eye, which harnesses geospatial data to aid in waste management of urban areas. Developed by 18-year-old Robin Ye and 18-year-old Bryan Ng from Singapore.
  • Second Place: GeoSat, which uses SMAP satellite data to predict potential landslides in Taiwan to increase alerts and evacuation efficiency. Developed by 16-year-old Pan Yung-Shian and 16-year-old Casper Liao, students at Kang Chiao International School in Taiwan.
  • Third Place: Wild Ping, an immersive map that combines various interfaces to display relevant information to inform fellow wilderness explorers. Developed by 18-year-old Spencer Jordan and 17-year-old Thomas Brasch, students at Mead High School in Spokane, Washington.

PIMCO Food Equity Challenge (SDG 2) winning ideas:

  • First Place: Verdant City, a three-tiered citywide project that aims to reduce produce distance by connecting local schools to produce. Developed by 16-year-old Redding Baldwin, 16-year-old Taj Melhuish and 17-year-old Jack McCuddin, students at Episcopal School of Los Angeles in Los Angeles, California.
  • Second Place: Grains for Migrants, a mobile app establishing partnerships between wholesale producers and migrants. Created to address the lack of access to quality foods to underserved migrant communities. Developed by 18-year-old Daniel Yin and 17-year-old Justin Cheong, students at Hwa Chong Institution in Singapore.
  • Third Place: Last Call, a mobile app directory allowing low-income families access to affordable groceries in Santa Clara County. Developed by 17-year-old Charlise Lardizabal and 17-year-old Lara Bella, students at Independence High School in San Jose, California.

Saint-Gobain Sustainable Cities Challenge (SDG 11) winning ideas:

  • First Place: Cardbio, which manipulates the properties of cardboard to create several sustainable construction materials. Developed by 16-year-old Arnav Grover, a student at Academy of Information Technology and Engineering in Stamford, Connecticut.
  • Second Place: Rubix Living, inspired by a Rubik’s cube, this modular living unit provides sustainable housing to unhoused people. Developed by 15-year-old Renee Wang, a student at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, California.
  • Third Place: Reconcrete, leverages the limestone-forming ability of concrete to create a self-healing carbon-negative concrete solution. Developed BY 21-year-old Abhishek Patra, a student at the Birla Institute of Technology Mesra in India.

Visit for more information about the 2021-2022 challenges, sponsors and prizes. A new set of innovation challenges will launch in September for the 2022-2023 academic year competition.

About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit organization that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle and high school students from under-resourced communities, as well as programs for college students and adults. NFTE reaches 50,000+ students annually in 25 states across the U.S. and offers programs in 18 additional countries. We have educated more than a million students through in-school, out-of-school, college and summer camp programs, offered in person and online. To learn more about how we are promoting inclusive capitalism and building the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs, visit

About Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant communities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

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