Finalists Set to Compete in the Big Ideas Grand Prize Pitch Day

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Six of the most innovative projects in the 2012-13 Big Ideas@Berkeley contest have been selected to present their projects to a panel of judges and the campus community at the Big Ideas Pitch Day Grand Prize. Winning teams will secure additional funding for their projects. The annual Pitch Day event, held in Blum Hall on April 25th from 2-5pm, will feature presentations by multidisciplinary groups of undergraduate and graduate teams addressing social problems in two categories: Campus & Community Impact and Global Impact.

“Being selected for Pitch Day is a huge honor,” said Michael Bakal, a member of the Building Youth Leadership in Rabinal team that has been named a Pitch Day finalist. “Having the opportunity to share the stories and aspirations of the youth we work with in Guatemala shows that the world is not indifferent to their destiny, and that there are people and institutions out there who believe in young people’s capacity to better their communities and our world. Big Ideas is helping us transform potential into action!” Michael added.

Presenting teams will take the stage for a five-minute project pitch followed by a question and answer session. The 1st place team will receive $5,000, the 2nd place team will receive $3,000, and the 3rd place team will receive $1,000. All these projects remain in the running for prizes in one of Big Ideas’ nine contest categories, for which the winners will be announced later this month.

The teams presenting under the Campus & Community Impact category are:
UC Berkeley Science Shop: Developed by a group of undergraduates from College of Natural Resources and a Haas MBA, the UC Berkeley Science Shop will provide community non-profits, small businesses, and local government offices free or low-cost access to student scientific research on campus. The Berkeley Science Shop would provide Berkeley students the opportunity to contribute to the welfare of their communities through their research.
AMASS Media: The idea of an interdisciplinary team of undergraduates in Computer Science, Business Administration, and Film Studies, AMASS Media seeks to expand access to quality multimedia services for social impact organizations. This project connects student early-career videographers looking to build their portfolios with community non-profit organizations looking for quality multimedia services.
Cashify, A Social Platform and Business Model for Financial Literacy: The undergraduate team behind Cashify has developed a model for financial education that uses interactive online games to empower students by providing the necessarily knowledge and resources to make sound financial decisions. Students using Cashify would navigate college life as a virtual financial adventure—students would track their own personal finances, participate in games that teach essential financial concepts, and interact with others. Through this reward-driven interactive financial adventure, Cashify aims to spread financial awareness in the Berkeley campus and beyond.

The teams presenting under the Global Impact category are:
Building a Youth Leadership Association in Rabinal, Guatemala: This team, composed of graduate students in the School of Public Health, School of Education, and medicine, seeks to empower indigenous teenagers in Rabinal, Guatemala, to design and implement solutions to their community’s public health problems. This project builds on the work of team member Michael Bakal’s organization, Voces y Manos (Voices and Hands), which sought to improve community health though the provision of medical care. This project is a response to community feedback, which revealed that communities wanted to take control over their own health. After training a group of indigenous teenage leaders, this project will give the Youth Leadership Association control over a $4,000 budget to implement public health solutions in their community.
The Pachamama Project: Led by a team of graduate and undergraduate students from College of Natural Resources, the College of Engineering, and the Environmental Science, Policy, and Management Department, this project will work toward the realization of human rights through gender equity, education, and access to clean water and sanitation in Cochabamba, Bolivia. The Pachamama Project will use education initiatives to engage with the stigma surrounding female reproductive health and the hygienic management of menstruation. While working toward improving the health of women in Bolivia, the Pachamama Project will also engage in community discussions on human rights to water, education, and gender equity.
Emmunify: Graduate students at Haas, the School of Public Health, and the School of Information are addressing the disproportionate lack of immunizations that reach rural populations in India. Emmunify is a non-profit social venture that enables rural villagers to carry an electronic medical record containing their child’s immunization history on an electronically readable tag laced on their phone. Emmunify would allow for rural families to be reminded of immunization appointments via SMS text and voice messages. By dramatically simplifying the immunization process for rural villagers and health workers through technology, Emmunify has the potential to decrease the number of preventable child deaths in rural India.

The Big Ideas People’s Choice Video Award, worth $2,500, will also be announced at the Pitch Day event. This contest invited all Big Ideas finalists to submit a video about their project, giving the public an opportunity to vote for their favorite project video. Eighteen videos are currently featured on the Big Ideas facebook page.

Watch the live Pitch Day webcast at