The 2013 Big Ideas@Berkeley competition launched in August 2012 when 160 teams, representing 555 students from 75 majors, submitted pre-proposals. After a preliminary review, 54 teams were invited to compete in the final round. These finalists were paired with mentors and worked for two months to fine tune their proposals. Congratulations to the 37 award winning projects listed below!
- “Scaling Up” Big Ideas
- Information Technology For Society
- Creative Expression for Social Justice
- Global Poverty Alleviation
- Improving Student Life
- Financial Literacy
- Maternal and Child Health
- Promoting Human Rights
- Clean & Sustainable Energy Alternatives
“Scaling Up” Big Ideas
Sponsor: The Blum Center for Developing Economies
Description of the Challenge: Prizes are awarded to student-led initiatives that have previously won the Big Ideas contest, and who have since generated excellent results that position them to make even greater progress.
Tekla Labs: Creating a global community of DIY makers and developing world scientists (1st Place)
Team Members: Todd Duncombe, Michael Kang, Bertram Koelsch, Kevin Lance, Kate Lovero, Javier Rosa, Julea Vlassakis
Tekla Labs strives to meet the unmet laboratory equipment needs of scientists and schools in resource-poor settings worldwide. Through the in-kind donation of a Dozuki platform, they have launched an interactive website that makes instructions for do-it-yourself (DIY) laboratory equipment available to scientists across the world. In an effort to expand the impact of Tekla Labs, they are now using their website to create a global community of DIY builders and scientists in the developing world, creating a sustainable source for innovation that empowers science anywhere. In addition to this, their upcoming competition, BuildMyLab, will invite designs for laboratory equipment from makers worldwide. Finally, Tekla Labs will advertise in popular maker magazines to reach a wide audience of potential contributors. They are collaborating with other initiatives to identify specific equipment needs of scientists in the developing world to improve science infrastructure worldwide.
GoodWheels (2nd Place)
Team Members: Nicholas de Raad, Christopher Ategeka, Alex Hayashi
GoodWheels will be a UC Berkeley student-run market where students can buy used bikes. Beginning in summer, they will offer a location for students to buy bikes at a lower cost and in a safer manner than they would be able to buy used bikes from strangers online. Student’s purchases from GoodWheels will have a social impact because all profits from bike sales will go to supporting CA Bikes in their work–constructing and donating custom bikes to orphans and paraplegics in Uganda.
Berkeley City College Service Community (2nd Place)
Team Members: Adena Ishii
The Berkeley City College Service Community (BCCSC) is a student-led program that assists community college students with the transfer process, provides them with enhanced leadership and service opportunities, and connects them to resources that will help them achieve their education and personal goals.
Extending a Helping Hand as Volunteer Tax Preparers: (2nd Place)
Team Members: Victoria Chu, Jorden Lam
In 2010, VITA@Berkeley, under the “Social Resources for a Healthy Community” project, successfully established its year-long program to assist students, community members, and community tax partners in collaborating around an effort to alleviate poverty through tax preparation. As a result, they helped secure $600,000 in tax refunds and credits to East Bay residents. “Extending a Helping Hand as Volunteer Tax Preparers” is an extension of this original project, with the added focus of targeting rural poverty areas outside the East Bay, such the Central Valley Region. In this project, Chu and Lam will partner with an existing financial service clinic, where volunteers can prepare taxes for local residents in a week-long service-learning opportunity, and enable them to dramatically scale up their service delivery. This project will further immerse students in the issues of poverty, and specifically rural poverty beyond the East Bay.
Fruitful Minds, Stage Two: Crossing County Lines (3rd place)
Team Members: Paulina Altshuler, Erin Dunn, Jessica Jew, Ann Kim, Samantha Louie, Lauren McAvoy, Daniela Santana, Lauren Tarver, Connie Tien
Fruitful Minds is determined to address the obesity epidemic by bringing nutrition education and guidance to students in elementary, middle, and high school. Operating the educational programs will also provide practical experience for college student ambassadors. In Stage One, they operated through one college (UC Berkeley) and served 10 local schools from 2010-2012. In Stage Two, they will be expanding to 12 schools (including 2 high schools), introduce a condensed curriculum for two new primary schools, and will partner with Saint Mary’s College outside of Alameda County. The ultimate goal of Fruitful Minds is to support partnerships nationwide and provide their unique program to any school with access to the college volunteers and resources necessary to replicate their model.
Information Technology for Society
Sponsor: The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS)
Description of the Challenge: The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) is interested in stimulating new thinking on a broad range of social benefits of information technology in areas such as: energy and the environment, health, education and life-long learning, democratic governance, response to natural and man-made disasters, transportation, delivery of government services, quality of life for people with disabilities, economic opportunity for low-income communities, arts and culture, and the effectiveness of non-profit organizations. The challenge of this contest is to describe a multidisciplinary research project that demonstrates the capacity of IT to help address a major societal challenge.
ParkExperienceMap (1st Place)
Team Members: Luis Aguilar, Colin MacArthur, Eric Zan
To survive, California’s National Parks must become relevant to people of diverse cultural backgrounds. But even as California’s population continues to diversify, people of culturally diverse backgrounds have been less likely to use National Parks and other public lands than others. If the percentage of African Americans and Hispanics who visit, volunteer, donate and lobby for parks does not increase, California’s parks could face substantial gaps in funding and support as its population becomes more diverse. Drawing on ten years of research describing what brings underserved populations into parks, this team proposes implementing ParkExperienceMap, an online participatory mapping system for creating custom visitor and staff-authored park maps, to be distributed both online and in print. ParkExperienceMap will harness crowd-sourcing and paper-based interfaces to provide park maps to underserved populations while simultaneously gathering their thoughts on the park experience. Working with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, they will build and test whether this application can encourage visits by under-served minority groups.
Low-Cost Utility-Driven Guardian Robot for Older Persons Living Alone (1st Place)
Team Members: Peter Cottrell, Sebastian Hening
This team’s faculty advisors received CITRIS seed funding this year to investigate the activity patterns of older persons living alone, and simultaneously, the capabilities of various sensors such as cameras, temperature sensor, and a two-way microphone for remote monitoring by family members. The goal of this CITRIS funding is for family members or their surrogates to remotely control a robot system over the Internet when they suspect a problem or are unable to reach their loved ones by phone. The goal of this Big Ideas proposal is to make this system autonomous, enabling the robot to monitor activity by detecting utility pattern anomalies. This will allow the system to identify and indicate potential problems and then alert the family members, while heading towards the location of the last utility activity. This project will use a commercially available vacuum robot, “Roomba,” as the base, allow for two-way communication using a mounted tablet, integrate a thermal camera for health data, and analyze the data for the surrogate to inspect and take the appropriate actions.
Facilitating Independence for Photo Capturing, Browsing, and Sharing for Blind People (2nd Place)
Team Members: Dustin Adams, Susumu Harada, Caitlin Hernandez, Sri Kurniawan, Daisuke Sato
Both sighted and blind people value having a photographic memento of a moment, a place, or an event. However, due to the visually oriented nature of photography and the lack of non-visual cues to indicate the content of the photo, the photographs taken by blind people are often lacking, sometimes missing the photo subject entirely. This proposal draws on research from team members that investigated how blind smartphone users take, store, and retrieve photos, which found that blind people want to, but hesitate to share photos because it is impossible to identify the photos after they are taken. The advent and ubiquity of smartphones provide a customizable framework that can help blind people capture, organize, browse, and share photos. The overarching aim of this research is to facilitate independence for blind people in capturing, browsing, and sharing photos using a smartphone. As blind people have to rely on non-visual cues to retrieve or organize photos, we plan to test various aural representations of the photos. We also plan to help blind people organize their photos by providing an organization scheme that matches their mental models, which would vary by various characteristics.
Small, Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for CAL FIRE Reconnaissance (2nd Place)
Team Members: Luis Bernardo, Chase Heckman, Kevin Kirkpatrick, Mark Lazzaro, Alexander Martinez, Jorge Nunez, Kelsey Nze, Erik O’keefe, Angel Sepulveda
Wildfires are a major part of California’s ecology and take a large amount of resources to monitor, contain, and ultimately suppress. Cal Fire is the state entity that is responsible for suppressing wildfires in California. Operations help improve the ecology of the local habitats by protecting rare and/or unique ecological resources, as well as protecting human property. Air-fighting resources such as fixed and rotary winged aircrafts are often used in fire suppression efforts. However, these tools are expensive to utilize and sometimes pose safety concerns such as pilot fatigue and low visibility flight. The goal of this proposal is to reduce the use of full-scaled crew-carrying aircraft by using small Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) in fire monitoring operations. Their project will create an UAV that could provide 24-hour monitoring to reduce the cost and increase the safety of wildfire monitoring. This would allow for traditional aircrafts that monitor fires to be used for different missions (e.g. water drops, short hauls, or resupply).
m3d (Mass Minable Medical Data) (3rd Place)
Team Members: Sabrina Atienza, Georgy Ramonov
m3d is the “Google for Healthcare”—an intuitive and fast search engine for clinical and biomedical research. Existing technology uses outdated software to manage massive data sets, proves unintuitive with drag-and-drop interfaces, and demonstrates major issues in software architecture and scalability. The m3d software solution utilizes cutting-edge technology that ensures optimum performance analyzing Terabytes of data and ensures the most productive user experience. The end-users of m3d include hospitals, clinics, research centers, and pharmaceutical companies. m3d has partnered with UCSF to build a modern and full software solution built on the existing technology frameworks to provide healthcare with its much-needed intuitive and fast search engine for clinical and biomedical research.
Creative Expression for Social Justice
Sponsors: Committee on Student Fees; The Arts Research Center; The Townsend Center for the Humanities
Description of the Challenge: The Arts and Humanities provide many meaningful ways to draw attention and contribute to discourse, advocacy, and positive action related to poverty and inequality. The Creative Expression for Social Justice category invited proposals related to creating art, music, photography, written and spoken word, film, dance, new media, other forms of expression, or activities to facilitate such expression to address issues of poverty alleviation and social justice.
AMASS Media: Democratizing Access to Multimedia Services (1st Place)
Team Members: John Chang, Carolyn Kao, Dominick Ng, Yang Wang, Clayton Yan, Hannah Yang
AMASS Media’s mission is to democratize access to multimedia services to empower social impact organizations. Today, the increasing popularity of crowd funding and social media campaigns has heightened the importance of videos and short films as marketing materials. Videos are essential for an influential online presence, but professional videography services are usually expensive or otherwise inaccessible for nonprofits. Through surveys, interviews, and online research, AMASS has confirmed that a) social impact organizations have a great need for cheaper videography services; and b) amateur and early-career (A&E) videographers looking to build their portfolios can fulfill these needs. However, no reputable online platform currently exists to connect nonprofits with A&E videographers. By fundamentally transforming the video production landscape, AMASS Media’s services will 1) create a powerful way for A&E videographers and nonprofits to advance their agendas, and 2) lead to a growth of creative content and greater public awareness of social justice issues.
The Secret Life of Urban Animals (2nd Place)
Team Members: Rebecca Hui
Often overlooked in urbanization are relationships between people and animals. This project will reveal how changing human-animal relationships are related to the development of global cities through artistic maps. By understanding the secret lives of urban animals in developing cities, the project will offer insights into how to develop Zoopolis, or cities where both people and animals can coexist. Team member Rebecca Hui was struck by the resiliency of urban animals, noticing that a unique sense of place emerges as cows manifest self-awareness and personalities, a consequence grounded in India’s long traditions of reverence towards all life forms. But this form of coexistence is diminishing as cities are changing, and conflicts arise over possession and use of space. As cities urbanize, human-animal relationships change as crucial ecological corridors for many animals are destroyed. By following animals in a developing world urban context, “The Secret Life of Urban Animals” intends for these maps to help us empathize with the animals whose lives are increasingly affected by people, and highlight the importance of those beings with whom we share our world, no matter how familiar or alien.
Nossa Communidade, Nossa Historìa: Our Community, Our Story (2nd Place)
Team Members: Lorna Porter
“Nossa Communidade, Nossa Historìa” (“Our Community, Our Story”) will bring a program of artistic expression to the youth of Brazil’s Rocinha favela. The program will take a group of twenty children, aged ten to fifteen, and spend four months providing them the opportunity to express their stories through different artistic modes with the goal to improve the student’s conception of the self. The programs will provide guidance for students to tell their personal narrative, focusing on writing, photography, reusable art and music, and ultimately create an exhibit that will be displayed in all socio-economic areas of Rio de Janeiro. The children will meet four times a week in this program to receive assistance with homework and cultivate the emotional benefits of an increased sense of self-worth that comes from accomplishment and much needed personal attention. The children will stay involved in the program to develop leadership skills and remain involved in art classes after the four months finish, even as the program will restart the cycle with twenty more children.
STORIE: Students for Educational Equity (3rd Place)
Team Members: Ela Banerjee, Lindsay Walter
STORIE will help students of the Berkeley Unified School District and UC Berkeley jointly investigate the issue of educational inequality and tell their personal stories of how inequities have affected their lives. The project will work specifically with Studio H at REALM Charter School, a design and build program that teaches critical thinking and technical skills through a community project completed over the course of a semester. They will work with the teachers of Studio H to develop an educational equity project that will allow students to investigate educational trends on a national and local level, and will then offer a complementary, afterschool, documentary filmmaking project that would enable students to investigate inequities through the stories and experiences of their peers. In partnership with the Studio H teacher, they will apply the studio’s creative inquiry process to help the students’ research inequities, map out key stakeholders, and ground trends in lived experiences. Specifically, STORIE will invite community leaders, including representatives from the City and District 2020 Vision process, to speak to the students, and will travel to interview Cal professors in the Graduate School of Education. Together, the afterschool project will edit interviews into a 10-15 minute documentary that STORIE will show at a 2020 Vision community event and on the University of California, Berkeley campus.
From Farm to People: Connecting People to Their Food Source (Hon. Mention)
Team Members: Lauren Tarver
The establishment of innovative and sustainable farms is crucial to changing our current food system into a sustainable, environmentally friendly, and healthy system. From Farm to People will illuminate innovative farmers, producers of food, and food activists across the nation, shedding light on the people making efforts to create a new paradigm for how we think about food. Providing visual context as well as written documentation for these sustainable producers will support the establishment of a closer connection between the consumers, as well as give people a notion of personal relation and responsibility. While there is a need for more future-forward thinking farmers, From Farm to People will also confront the larger problems encompassing public health and the issues within our current centralized, industrial food system. This project has three parts that use photography and writing to offer a way to see the community and larger public impact of sustainable farming, creating a strong relationship between users and the farms that produce their food.
Global Poverty Alleviation
Sponsor: The Blum Center for Developing Economics
Description of the Challenge: Propelled by the energy and talent of students committed to helping the nearly three billion people who live on less than two dollars a day, the Blum Center for Developing Economies is focused on finding solutions to the most pressing needs of the poor. This competition asked students to describe an action-oriented project that would help alleviate poverty. Possible areas of innovation included financial services, wireless technologies and services, education, health care and agriculture.
Building a Youth Leadership Association in Rabinal, Guatemala (1st Place)
Team Members: Michael Bakal, Kira Levy, Kimberly Vinall
Six years ago, as a junior at UC San Diego, Michael Bakal received a student grant to coordinate a health fair in the indigenous community of Rabinal, Guatemala. Since then, Michael has returned to Rabinal 10 times and formed a non-profit organization. Named Voces y Manos, his nonprofit originally sought to improve health through direct provision of medical care. However, feedback from the community enlightened him to the reality that this was just a band-aid solution to a much deeper problem: the community’s lack of control over its own health. This project seeks to address this issue by empowering a group of indigenous teenagers to form their own Youth Leadership Association to design and implement innovative solutions to the community’s most pressing health problems. After receiving extensive training, the Youth Leadership Association will be given total control over a $4,000 budget, which they will have one year to allocate toward developing innovative solutions to the community’s most critical challenges. This will not only incubate sustainable solutions to local health challenges, it will also prepare the next generation of indigenous youth to assume leadership in addressing the most pressing challenges facing their communities.
FlowBit (1st Place)
Team Members: Nick Lee, Hung Leong, Cory Levy, Yasir Motiwala, and Nicole Murphy
FlowBit will create a low-cost, flexible system that is capable of providing the following services to developing world projects: remote monitoring, remote control, and accessible data storage. The goal is to drastically improve the scalability of existing developing world projects while improving transparency and service to the people who depend on them. For their pilot project, they will install a prototype system on a water-dispensing kiosk in Mexico through collaboration with Mexican non-profit Fundacion Cantaro Azul and researchers at UC Berkeley. FlowBit is currently in talks with leaders of two social enterprises: LoLo Utility in India and Fundacion Cantaro Azul in Mexico. Although the organizations have different business models and serve culturally-influenced markets, they both struggle with similar key issues. They mentioned that if technology could help in scaling up or maintaining their networks, more people would gain reliable access to clean drinking water at even lower prices. FlowBit’s technology provides three essential capabilities: real-time monitoring of sensors, wireless control over systems, and access to big data collection over an entire smart water network. FlowBit will turn rural water delivery from reactive management to preventative management.
Roofing Out of Poverty (2nd Place)
Team Members: Hasit Ganatra, Pablo Rosado, and Naomi Rosenberg
India is experiencing rapid migration from rural areas to cities. Rampant urbanization in India has caused the proliferation of slums and increased demand for adequate housing. Among many of the physically and socially deteriorated living conditions that characterize life in the slums, housing with poor structural quality is one of the major limiting factors in the advancement of socio-economic growth. A functional roof is a basic and essential component of shelter for a family, but poor house planning and a lack of resources results in inadequate and unsafe roofs for families. After surveying 15 low-income households in a slum in Ahmedabad, India, this team got direct feedback from the field that helped them identify the top current roofing problems: extremely hot indoor temperatures, high roof maintenance costs, leaks during monsoon season, and the presence of asbestos. Roofing Out of Poverty’s challenge is to design an affordable and reliable roof that not only addresses these top priorities, but is modular, fits within a financially viable business model, and improves the safety and quality of living of low-income home dwellers. Their product will fill the market gap between inexpensive, low-quality roofing options and cost-prohibitive concrete slab roofs.
Vision from the Bottom: Providing a Brighter Future (2nd Place)
Team Members: Silvina Bee and Moon Parks
Vision from the Bottom aims to bypass the costs of customized eyeglasses and vision screening by implementing a social business model and supply chain network to deliver easy, inexpensive and effective vision correction to people in Cambodia. Using recent innovations in self-refraction technology for vision screening and standardized eyeglass products for vision correction, Vision from the Bottom will provide job training for vision vendors—a door-to-door community-based sales force for self-adjustable glasses. Vision vendors will also provide a basic eye-disease detection test and can consult and coordinate visits to eye clinics or hospitals for patients who need further care. Vision from the Bottom will apply an incentive-based, scale-up supply chain so vision vendors who achieve higher sales are provided with more discounts when acquiring these self-adjustable glasses for the purposes of selling them to customers, and they will also be promoted to a higher position.
100 Strong (3rd Place)
Team Members: Vrinda Agarwal, Julie Brown, Madeeha Ghori, Smriti Joneja, Ruhi Nath
100 Strong is an innovative non-profit that will give at-risk teenage girls in San Francisco the skills they need to take leadership roles in bettering their communities. First, one hundred teenage girls will be invited to participate in the program. The girls will be paired with a UC Berkeley undergraduate and, together, the pair will select a service-based project they want to develop during the program. Then the one hundred girls will attend a two week leadership workshop, the 100 Strong Summer Workshop, that focuses on developing their leadership potential by planning out their project and learning how to lead a non-profit project. Through the course of the two-week program, the participants in 100 Strong will observe non-profits in action in San Francisco, learn from guest speakers, and participate in leadership building exercises. 100 Strong will give at-risk teenage girls the skills they need to create change within their own communities, developing these girls’ leadership potential by equipping them with the training and skills they need to be change makers within their own communities. The goal is to pilot a new leadership program that will not only empower girls to better their own lives, but will also empower girls to better the lives of others.
Lungs For Life (3rd Place)
Team Members: Brenna Alexander, Ariella Godblatt, Drew Thompson, Paulina Tsai, Allie Wallace, and Simon Wang
Though smoking is a prevalent issue among the homeless population, it is rarely addressed. Many factors predispose homeless individuals to nicotine addiction, and the underserved often do not have sufficient medical care or the strong support base that is critical to kicking the habit. The Suitcase Clinic, a student-run volunteer organization serving the homeless in the East Bay, aims to launch a project called Lungs for Life. They intend to treat the health related issues associated with smoking and create a social network to empower clients to successfully quit. The project has three main components: asthma/COPD screenings; treatment through prescription inhalers; and weekly, student-run support groups supplemented with nicotine replacement. Lungs for Life will establish monthly screenings for respiratory issues and secure more funding for inhalers and diagnostic tools, creating tailored client plans for asthma control. Lungs for Life will institute student-run support groups to not only provide important health information, but also offer an open space for clients to express their hardships and reach out to one another. The enactment of a smoking cessation program will mark Suitcase Clinic’s pioneer effort to expand services beyond acute treatment and into long-lasting care.
Improving Student Life
Sponsors: Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC)
Description of the Challenge: UC Berkeley is a rich and diverse milieu of student life and initiative. Proposals for this competition focused on new policy programs, initiatives or services that are aligned with the strategic priorities in the Division of Student Affairs: access, service, and engagement. Proposals included implementation plans that, among other things, outlined the specific roles of individual and/or groups of students, staff, faculty, and external collaborators in executing the idea.
The UC Berkeley Science Shop: Connecting Communities to University Research (1st Place)
Team Members: Karen Andrade, Erik Behar, Sushma Bhatia, Hekia Bodwitch, Melissa Eitzel, Jennifer Palomino, Leah Rubin
Many science students at UC Berkeley view science as a tool that allows them to advance the frontiers of human knowledge and have a positive impact on society. For many students, the gap between their work and its real impact on society makes it difficult to believe that their work is relevant, leading to a loss of motivation and ultimately to high attrition of these talented individuals from science-related degrees and careers. This attrition and disconnection is at odds with an increasing need for access to scientific knowledge and research in many communities. Science and technology are fundamental to problem solving, and access to science and research often dictates who has a voice in policy and societal decision-making processes. This big idea is to translate community research questions into projects that undergraduate and graduates can carry out. By facilitating and fostering the relationship between community non-profits or small businesses and students’ research in the Bay Area, which has a distinctive landscape of non-profit organizations in diverse fields, business startups and progressive local governments, Science Shop will spark distinct solutions for social and environmental problems.
Push Me, Pull You: O-Chem, the Fun Way! (2nd Place)
Team Members: Norman Bae, Prithvi Bomdica, Nithya Lingampalli, Rahul Nayak, Vinay Viswanadham, and Hubert Wang
This proposal’s plan is to develop a computer program that can be used to practice electron-pushing mechanisms in organic chemistry. Students struggle significantly in electron-arrow pushing mechanisms, a critical part of an organic chemistry course’s grade. By implementing this project, Push Me, Pull You hopes to increase students’ understanding of this phenomenon in organic chemistry, and therefore further students’ overall understanding of the subject. The application for this computer program will include a tutoring and a solving level. With this new program, Push Me, Pull You, will help students to better understand organic chemistry, and take away the unnecessary fear that strikes new organic chemistry students.
Free Ventures (3rd Place)
Team Members: Jeremy Fiance, Sam Kirschner, Alex Mandel, Sahana Rajasekar, Arushi Saxena
Free Ventures is UC Berkeley’s first student-initiated non-profit startup accelerator, meant to catalyze the development of young entrepreneurs to innovate and create high-impact, sustainable ventures. Free Ventures is a key part of an innovation movement that involves changing the culture amongst the student body from focusing all of their energy on classes to a world where the things learned in the classroom can translate into real world products and services. They intend to do this by giving young entrepreneurs access to student consulting, mentorship, funding, and a more intensive accelerator program for students that show a higher potential of success. Initially they plan to implement a pilot program of roughly five passionate student teams that will be given mentors, project deadlines, and seed funding all wrapped up in 10 weeks. The pilot will help them to build an initial infrastructure, which they will use as a platform to build on. This organization will work along current leaders on campus to help accelerate Berkeley’s already talented student body into a more creative, free thinking group of students with a higher potential to pursue their passions and create meaningful ventures.
Sponsors: The Haas School of Business; The Blum Center for Developing Economies
Description of Challenge: Proposals for this category involve improving the financial literacy of young adults as they transition to universities, state schools, and community colleges. The proposals focus on the question: “How can we better equip high school students or incoming freshmen with the basics of managing sources of funding such as financial aid (grants/scholarships/loans), credit cards, pre-paid debit cards, among others?”
Cashify, a Social Platform & Business Model for Financial Literacy (1st Place)
Team Members: Shuonan Chen, Justin Chu, Virginia Chung
In partnership with business sponsors, Cashify will establish a sustainable program to support an interactive online platform for financial literacy, targeting entering students at various schools. This platform will allow students to open accounts with which they can gain points by completing tasks such as reading the monthly newsletter, completing periodic trivia on financial literacy, and engaging in the online social community by sharing their activities and participating in forums that discuss financial tips and are moderated by professionals from sponsoring schools. Students’ accounts would be directly tied to their school email to ensure security settings. Cashify will also partner with existing institutions to provide the information and resources that would benefit students not only in the present term but also in the long-term. The material will be presented in interactive formats such as simulation games, which not only provide information but also actively engage students, allowing Cashify to characterize financial literacy as something fun and meaningful for students.
Cash FLOW: Financial Literacy (2nd Place)
Team Members: Leanne Fan, Lizi Feng, Brian Kim, Siranush Manukyan, Akash Patel, Felicity Tang, Dennis Vidalj, Alice Wang
Cash FLOW aims to address the problem of low financial literacy by bringing personal finance classes to high schools. Through these classes, high school students will be equipped with the knowledge and skills to make informed financial decisions during and after college. Currently, the team leads a weekly “Teaching Financial Literacy” DeCal course that teaches students about personal finance and guides them to apply their knowledge by counseling low-income individuals at homeless shelters. By using the student-to-student teaching model, instructors hone their leadership skills, solidify their knowledge base, and create a platform for open discussion with students. Leading an after-school program in high schools, starting with the pilot program at El Cerrito High during the 2013-2014 school year, the team intends to use their democratic teaching model to provide high school students with the key money management skills that they will need to succeed in their post-high school lives. The curriculum includes loans, budgeting, banking services, financial aid, and other financial information that may impact their lives.
L.I.F.E. Courses (Learning and Inspiring through Financial Education) (3rd Place)
Team Members: Jacqueline Aldaco, Blanca Zepeda
This project will target students and their parents through a year-round program focusing on financial literacy. This program will focus on Richmond High School in Richmond, CA, which is a socio-economically disadvantaged and underserved school primarily serving students of color. L.I.F.E. will also conduct a one-day conference on the UC Berkeley campus in the spring semester for students from all around the East Bay area to increase outreach and accessibility as well as extend knowledge and resources.
Maternal & Child Health
Sponsors: USAID; The Blum Center for Developing Economies
Description of the Challenge: Each year, 350,000 women die due to complications during childbirth, and approximately 10 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday. In the vast majority of cases, the causes of these deaths are preventable, occurring because expectant mothers and young children do not have access to health care services and informational resources or receive sub-standard medical care. The Improving Maternal and Child Health Competition rewards innovative solutions to safeguard the health of expectant mothers and young children.
Emmunify (1st Place)
Team Members: Sanat Kamal Bahl, Erik Krogh-Jespersen, Anandamoy Sen, Jessica Watterson
Emmunify is a non-profit social venture providing a unique solution for patient identification and immunization tracking in rural India. The project’s technology allows any rural villager to carry an electronic medical record containing their child’s immunization history on an electronically readable tag placed on their phone. Families are reminded of their immunization appointments via an SMS text message or a voice message sent to their phone. When the parent arrives for their child’s vaccination appointment, the data from their electronic medical record can then be read and updated by a healthcare worker using a low cost handset with near field communication capabilities. Emmunify’s technology dramatically simplifies the immunization process for both the rural villager and the health worker, ultimately delivering on the big impact goal of reducing child mortality.
Que Viva La Mujer: Knights Landing Community Maternal Health Program (2nd Place)
Team Members: Pooja Boinapalli, Elizabeth Johnson, Nandini Nittur, Sarah Yang
This team aims to open a maternal care unit with an onsite OB/GYN in the Knights Landing community of Yolo County. Since the closing of CommuniCare in 2008, the community of approximately 750 migrant families and undocumented workers living in Knights Landing has lacked access to comprehensive health care in their community up until the beginning of this year. The project will provide women with more birth control options, urine tests, emergency contraception, and prenatal packages. These packages would include prenatal vitamins and vouchers for transportation to hospitals in Sacramento and the greater Yolo County. The goal is to integrate community members in all steps of the process, ensuring they take an active role in their own health care and the health care of their neighbors. Que Viva La Mujer would not just be a place where women can see a gynecologist in their own community, but also their resource for all their maternal and post parturition health care and educational needs.
India Smiles (2nd Place)
Team Members: Hani Ahir, Priyanka Athavale, Ashmita Baral, Amina Khimani, Nikita Patel, Priya Patel, Karen Sokal-Gutierrez, Radka Varimezova
India Smiles is a 3-year project aimed at alleviating childhood malnutrition and poor oral health outcomes caused by the transition from traditional agricultural-based diets to processed snack and “junk foods” in India. Through an effective entrepreneurial and social marketing model for community-based distribution of oral health care products and services by local community health workers, India Smiles works towards improving oral health in children ages up to age six. The project will employ oral hygiene education, application of fluoride varnish, preventative oral health care, dental examination, and distribution of toothbrushes, toothpaste and dental assistance to provide not only health benefits for mothers and children, but also financial benefits for the entrepreneurial health workers fostering a system of community involvement and sustainability.
Promoting Human Rights
Sponsors: USAID; The Blum Center for Developing Economies; The Human Rights Center; The Data and Democracy Initiative
Description of the Challenge: Although the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights was designed to be a common standard of human rights for all peoples in all nations, human rights violations exist in almost every part of the world; Amnesty International’s 2009 World Report states that individuals are tortured or abused in at least 80 countries, face unfair trials in at least 50 countries, and are restricted in their freedom of expression in at least 70 countries. The challenge for this competition is to develop a proposal that will, in some way, combat the causes or consequences of corruption and thus directly or indirectly foster the rule of law.
The Pachamama Project (1st Place)
Team Members: Rebecca Peters, Lindsay Dreizler
The Pachamama Project strives to eradicate taboos and stigmas associated with menstruation and improve the human right to clean water and education in Bolivia. The goal of the project is to develop and disseminate information regarding menstrual hygiene management (MHM) in underserved peri-urban indigenous and migrant communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia. By fostering community and school level participation in discussions and education about water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH), and MHM, the Pachamama Project seeks to broaden understandings of the human right to water, gender equality, and basic human rights. This project, in collaboration with the NGO, Water for People, will collect information in areas overlooked by the government, facilitate community organizing, lead education initiatives, and involve local stakeholders in project decision making. By framing MHM as a human rights issue, it can tap into larger discourses of justice, equity, and gender equality instead of remaining a taboo subject with complex stigmas assigned to it.
Bay Area Resource Connection: Health Equality Through Resource Consultation and Medical-Legal Partnerships (2nd Place)
Team Members: Sudarshan Bhat, Abby Burns, Gabriel Fregoso, and Wijin (Jason) Kim
We believe all humans have the right to health and wellbeing regardless of socioeconomic status. The roots of good health must begin long before the administration of a therapeutic drug. Several socioeconomic factors including nutrition, housing, and education often determine a family’s state of health. We plan to train a group of committed undergraduates to staff a “help desk” at Highland Hospital in Oakland. Emergency room and chronic disease clinic staff will refer appropriate patients and their families to the help desk, where the volunteers will walk these clients through the process of accessing a multitude of resources. We will provide support with finding housing, employment, food access, child-care, and medical-legal advocacy, among other necessities. We are collaborating with East Bay Community Law Center and students at the UC Berkeley Boalt Law School to provide legal services. The goal of this interdisciplinary approach is to improve the health of low-income patients, enhance the patient experience, reduce emergency room utilization by high frequency patients and ultimately lower healthcare costs in outpatient clinics and the emergency department.
Truth as Freedom: Promoting Human Rights and Accountability through Access to Information in Sierra Leone (3rd Place)
Team Members: Holly Dranginis
In its current reconstruction phase, Sierra Leone has made valiant efforts to reckon with its past and develop rule-of-law, historical memory, and accountability for war crimes. However, Sierra Leone has a history of corruption and remains one of the poorest nations on earth. Today, citizens need food, healthcare, and education. But they also need to trust their government. State secrecy breeds distrust and resentment among citizens— traits that can escalate into upheaval. The government has responded to this need by establishing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). FOIA laws empower citizens to request and receive information once kept as classified; thereby breaking through walls of secrecy that once concealed state corruption and violence. Equipped with the support of the National Security Archive and extensive professional experience in transitional justice and human rights, Truth as Freedom will harness FOIA’s innovative power to engender respect for human rights in Sierra Leone. Partnering with FOIA experts in the US and the growing citizen-movement for access to information in Sierra Leone, Truth as Freedom will be motivated by two goals: 1) Test and thereby strengthen the enforcement of the new FOIA law by assisting requests filed by local citizens and 2) gather and analyze documents resulting from those requests to build a dossier of potential evidence for human rights-related litigation.
Clean & Sustainable Energy Alternatives
Sponsors: The Blum Center for Developing Economies; The Berkeley Energy & Climate Initiative
Description of the Challenge: The aim of this category is to encourage the adoption of clean energy alternatives that are sustainable and have the potential for broad impact. Proposals may focus on the design, development, or delivery of sustainable energy solutions and can be domestic or international in scope. However, all proposals should clearly demonstrate the relationship between the proposed intervention and its impact on the environment.
Off-Grid Solar Electrification in Africa with Mobile Phone Interface (1st Place)
Team Members: Louis Kang, Ivan Maric, and Henry Wang
This project seeks to provide a feasible and sustainable solution for growing energy demand in Africa. Its core innovation is in the village-scale solar power system that is currently being prototyped at UC Berkeley. One team member’s extensive contacts in renewable energy organizations in Ghana gives this team a platform and local access to start implementing pilot systems. Ghana’s growth rates for energy need, population, and development approximate Sub-Saharan Africa’s on a whole, and therefore can be used as a suitable benchmark for testing. This team utilizes an array of inexpensive solar panels to provide remote generation. A predictive back-end will provide energy generation forecasts up to three-days ahead, and will convey expected generation shortfalls through SMS to end-users. Electricity sales will be on-demand and sold via mobile credits, expecting to generate USD $50 per month for a 2kw system.
PT-E generator: Harnessing the Energy of Moving Cars (1st Place)
Team Members: Tuan Hoang, Phuc Le, Long Tran
PT-E generator proposes to build a device that can harness the energy generated by the impact of moving vehicles onto highway and city road surfaces. This energy is then converted into electricity that can be stored in batteries or uploaded into the electric grids to power residential and public facilities. The device uses the same mechanism of an automatic watch to store and release the mechanical energy collected from vehicles. This project may help solve the ever-increasing energy demands while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and cutting back the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere that cause global warming.
Wallflower Ventilation: Intelligent Home Ventilation Network with Wireless Control (2nd Place)
Team Members: Eric Burger and Ari Novack
Traditional central heating and cooling systems treat an entire house as if it were one room with one uniform temperature. Furthermore, these systems fail to provide room-specific temperature control, instead heating or cooling the entire home based on the readings of a single temperature sensor in the thermostat. By installing a wirelessly controlled vent cover, equipped with temperature sensor and motorized shutter in each room of a house, the Wallflower Ventilation system provides the ability to control room-specific temperature settings. Each vent will communicate with a central thermostat that controls and monitors the network. The thermostat will also record temperature readings to the homeowner’s online account. By accessing the system’s website, the user can update their desired temperature, change settings from their smartphone or office computer, and track their home’s energy use. With this system, the home’s ventilation network can become part of the Internet of Things, offering real-time monitoring, access to weather forecasts, and the incorporation of advanced analytics.
Near Zero (3rd Place)
Team Members: Sadegh Asefi, David Atkins-Maters, David Olmos, Togay Ozen, Marwan Rammah, and Paul Weitekamp
Unlike chemical batteries that have a limited power output and diminishing cycle lives, flywheel batteries can supply quick surges of power in milliseconds with a reliable 20-30 year lifespan. The small footprint of flywheel batteries makes them easily deployable in any environment. Near Zero’s rapid ramping abilities, high cycle life, and low maintenance make it an ideal supplement to current regulation plant operations. While current installed storage capacity is seeking to compete with fossil fuel regulation plants, Near Zero aims to enable more efficient operation of these plants in a collaborative integration. The ability to provide both energy absorption and generation services at fast ramp rates means that less capacity is needed per regulation event, which enables the plant to increase the number of ancillary service market bids and reduce idle time. While the flywheel is ideal for the initial ramping of supply, Near Zero’s customers will increase asset utilization after the ramping period has ended or when installed flywheel capacity has been discharged.