UC Berkeley Financial Literacy and Economic Justice Conference

UC Berkeley Financial Literacy and Economic Justice Conference (UC Berkeley)This project seeks to implement a two-day “UC Berkeley Financial Literacy and Economic Justice” Conference, an annual, campus-wide event open to all college students. It will be the first student-led and student-organize conference of its kind. On the first day of the conference, facilitators from dozens of student organizations, UC Berkeley faculty, and community partners will host a projected thirty lectures and workshops on various aspects of financial literacy and topics on socioeconomic inequality. Core workshop topics will include preparing a tax return, planning a personal budget, navigating student financial aid, and tackling the rising cost of tuition and housing. Students can opt to do public service around the Berkeley/Oakland area in pilot groups focusing on how to apply financial literacy skills to needy communities. Students may also choose to directly engage with student organizations and community partners on specific financial needs such as having their taxes filed for free. Finally, attendees will reflect on the entire conference — workshops, public service, keynote — in specially moderated groups by conference organizers.

Highland Health Advocates

Based in Oakland, Highland Health Advocates is an advocacy program addressing socioeconomic determinants of health by connecting patients/families with community resources. As part of a larger consortium, HHA mobilizes highly-trained volunteers from various backgrounds to improve patients’ health outcomes. The program is comprised of clinic-based social screening and assistance programs, several of which use volunteers and other workforce development recruits to staff a resource “Help Desk.” Compared to the original 15 volunteers, the program has more than quadrupled in size in three years. The desk itself has expanded to three times as many hospital departments and has hired a paid program coordinator, a total of 19 shift leads, 4 program interns, and an MSW intern. With continued expansion and improvement, HHA strives to both better prepare volunteers to advocate for patients and cultivate an understanding of social determinants of health within the community. Through a culture of service, HHA aims to introduce its model (toolkit) to other regional hospitals and gradually improve the way healthcare is approached in the U.S.


Lifenik (UC Berkeley)


In the United States, suicide rates have increased 60% over the last 50 years, depression is predicted to be the second-most prevalent health condition in the world within 5 years, and 1 in 3 regular kids have already engaged in self-injury by the time they reach adolescence. Just like learning math or a foreign language, research has shown that practicing a certain skills can lead to greater emotional health, well-being, and fewer mental health issues. Lifenik is a research-based web and mobile application that makes online kids games and activities that strengthen neurocognitive processes that promote emotional health. It aims to develop fun, accessible, and affordable programs for children with no way to prevent or treat mental health issues.

Feces to Fuel: Saving Trees, Budgets, and Lungs

Feces to Fuel: Saving Trees, Budgets, and Lungs (UC Berkeley)The increased market demand for household cooking fuel in Kenya provides an opportunity to improve livelihoods and the environment. This project unlocks the potential in human feces and other waste streams by transforming it into an affordable household cooking fuel. Sanivation, a partner organization, produces charcoal briquettes derived from human and agricultural waste that is cheaper than traditional charcoal. These fuel briquettes produce less smoke than traditional charcoal, consequently reducing the users’ exposure to toxic fumes and reducing indoor air pollution. Feces to Fuel aims to aid Sanivation with the technical and design work necessary to expand their business and scale production to 180 tons of fuel derived from waste products per month.

Kuy Kuitin: Mitigating Indigenous Conflicts Through Education in Chile

kuy kuitinThe Mapuche conflict of Southern Chile confronts Mapuche indigenous communities that fight to recuperate their lost territories against the Chilean state. National mass media outlets have been misinforming the national population about the causes of the violence labeling the Mapuche movement as “terrorism.” However, specialists are in agreement that this is not the case and the roots of the present Mapuche struggle are historical. The objective of this project is to design a pilot scheme that aims to “re-educate” the misinformed Chilean upper-class, based in the northern capital of Santiago, about the history of the Mapuche conflict. Four teachers selected from a poll of 10 elite high schools will spend ten days working with the school community learning how history is taught and lived in the context of where the conflict unfolds. These teachers will stay with a host-family of the school, learning about the Mapuche conflict, “on the ground”. The four teachers will then come back to their educational communities in Santiago to transmit their experiences and design a project to aid the Mapuche educational community that hosted them. The whole process will be recorded by a documentarian and then released as a documentary film.
(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Conflict & Development” Category)

Youth Ag-education Innovation Cooperative


This project seeks to establish a Youth Ag-education and Innovation Cooperative (YAIC) to empower at-risk youth by putting them in the position to work side-by-side with their peers. By including a constitution and by-laws, this program will give young farmers ownership of their ventures so they gain leadership, teamwork, and communication skills within a democratically led institution. YAIC will partner with a local Rwandan NGO, Building Bridges to Rwanda (BBR), and a private American aquaponic company, WeFeedUs, to establish agri-tourism study abroad programs with four American universities. The fundamental goal is to help youth change their negative perception of agriculture through a participatory community-based curriculum program within the framework of a successful agricultural cooperative.
(Note: This project originally won in the Big Ideas “Conflict & Development” Category)


sideProject would like to introduce the new-age resume: a dynamic, “3-D” professional profile that not only displays work history but also demonstrates employability skills. Currently, the resume as a job application tool limits applicants from displaying their full capabilities and restricts employers from getting a holistic view of their candidates. This project is reinventing the resume by creating a networking platform that enables users to showcase their skill sets through small “Projects.” A Project resembles a case competition or company-sponsored contest with a prize incentive that requires users to submit proposals to a live business problem within a given time frame. Each Project will be individually designed with a sponsor, and coded with the set of skills necessary for a complete proposal. Upon submission, the sponsor’s logo and corresponding skills will be linked to the student’s profile (AKA their 3D resume) as recognition for their work. sideProject arms students with the tools to realize their own potential and more accurately reflect their individual skill sets.

Visualizing the Invisible

Visualizing the Invisible (UC Berkeley)This project seeks to develop an experiential learning tool that allows users to personally feel what it is like to be censored. The site would feature a highly visual and interactive system that allows users to see what content from their own document would be censored in China. The need for this project is twofold: there is a strong need to raise awareness among Americans about censorship in China to encourage citizen participation and engagement in free speech, and to collect more data for researchers to understand American’s perception and understanding of censorship in China. This visualization will allow users to submit their own content and then visually see words and phrases that are censored being removed from their document. The project will educate them of potential reasons for each removal, provide related articles that are censored in China and create an interactive and engaging narrative for users to recognize the importance of Internet freedom.

Catalyst@Berkeley Expansion Program

catalyst at berkeley
Catalyst@Berkeley is one of the first student-led health-tech incubators geared towards enabling undergraduate students to solve tomorrow’s biggest health problems. The goals for Catalyst are to bring passionate students together to create heavily-needed health-tech products to market and improve lives. It teaches student-founders how to pick the right problems to solve (clinically-validated and with the right product-market-team fit). By the end of the incubation period, all teams are expected to be ready to scale with a top-tier accelerator program. Most importantly, Catalyst wants to provide students the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship in the life sciences and digital health fields through hands-on experience.