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Youth Impact Challenge Awards over $50k to Canada’s Sustainability Leaders of Tomorrow

Sep 16, 2020

Canada’s leading impact investors launch the first Youth Impact Challenge to empower young innovators solving the world’s social and environmental problems.

September 8, 2020 | Vancouver BC

The Youth Impact Challenge awarded over $50,000 in prizes to 31 teams of Canadian youth who created scalable, practical, and impactful solutions to a major social or environmental problem.

The Challenge was thought up by Paul Richardson of Renewal Funds who recognized that the summer of 2020 was difficult for youth as summer internships and programs for young people had been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Renewal was quickly joined by InvestEco as a co-anchor and co-organizer.  Paul and Andrew Heintzman from Investeco courted fellow leaders and friends in the impact investing space to come on board as co-sponsors and Vancity, Finance Montreal’s Youth Committee, Horizon Capital, the Metcalf Foundation all added to the pot.

“The news this past six months has been grim and difficult on all of us,” said Paul Richardson. “The response to this Challenge blew me away and reminded me that we have a deep pool of smart, diverse and engaged young people in this country who are committed to a better future for all and innovative enough to achieve that goal”

Three talented youth organizers Bhoomika Saxena, Henry Richardson, and Tristan Surman were brought on in June to realize the Challenge and market it to youth across Canada. In less than 2 months the project went from a concept to a flood of nearly 200 ideas being filed by the August 6 application deadline.

Over 700 young people from 8 provinces, rural and urban regions, representing incredibly diverse backgrounds and groups submitted thoughtful, innovative ideas with plans to implement them – all with the intent to make the world a better, more inclusive, and sustainable place.

“The range and quality of the ideas that the 2020 Youth Impact Challenge generated was truly inspiring and gives me hope for the future,” said Andrew Heintzman. “InvestEco was delighted to be part of this effort to energize and support a new generation of social entrepreneurs across Canada, and we look forward to being part of it again next year!”

The top 31 projects were awarded $1200 each and assigned a mentor to help refine their pitch. Teams were guided by leaders from business and the non-profit sector to hone their idea and submit a video or slide deck for the next round of judging.

Bhoomika Saxena said, “Organizing the Youth Impact Challenge within a month of ideation was a lot of work but it was all worth it to see the smiles of participants in the Final Round, over a video conference of course. The most rewarding part was meeting incredibly inspiring people, such as the young social entrepreneurs participating and impact investors in the team.”

The final 7 delivered a live pitch to a judge’s panel and were each awarded additional prize money. The top team won for their project Voltex.  The team consisted of three young women, two machine learning developers and one a business student, who are developing a product designed to support the implementation of supercapacitors – a critical component in the climate change fight.

The challenge was a resounding success and showed the organizers just how deeply engaged young people are in solving our biggest challenges. The organizers plan to continue this momentum by making the Challenge an annual event.

Top 7 Projects (prizes on top of the $1,200 for placing in top 31):

1st Place          Voltx                $10,000           Testing supercapacitors

2nd Place         SteriShield      $5,000             Solution for medical waste

Tie 3rd              SmartEyes      $1,500             Assistance for blind people

                        Pham-assist    $1,500             Assistance in understanding prescriptions

Other top 7      Accesso          $500                Assistance for the disabled

                        newsworthy     $500                Understanding media bias


Connect with or [Andrew] for more details. 

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