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2020 Social Changemaker Challenge

November 13, 2020

Brought to you by Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact and Principal

Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact (IAMNCC) is excited to announce the 2020 Social Changemaker Challenge, funded by Principal. The Challenge is open to current college students in business or related majors interested in using emerging business skills to address complex social problems. Student teams will be supported in taking a systems-level approach to understanding the problem, identifying gaps, and proposing solutions.

The Social Changemaker Challenge uses higher education’s human capital to create innovative solutions to complex social problems. It helps students get experience addressing complex social problems by demonstrating highly sought-after workforce skills like leadership, problem-solving, critical thinking, adaptability, and teamwork.

Student teams will work with a local community or campus partner to submit an application to participate. The application will include a description of the problem and plans for the partnership. IAMNCC staff will select and invite student-community teams to the innovation challenge day. On the day of the challenge, teams will learn about systems mapping and ideation and receive coaching from Principal staff and nonprofit partners. Teams will then deliver their pitch to a panel of Principal staff members and community judges and be eligible for project implementation prizes of up to $10,000. Teams will be judged on their understanding of the problem at a systems level, their identification of gaps, and the connection of these to their proposed solutions.


April 27, 2020 – First priority team applications

August 28, 2020 – Second round of team application due, review, and notified

September 2020 – Webinar for all team members to review concepts related to the problem research stage

November 13, 2020 – Challenge competition day online and winner(s) selected

May 2021 – Project reports due from winning teams


Members and affiliates of Iowa or Minnesota Campus Compact are eligible to apply for this opportunity. Applications must include at least one campus and one community partner. Members and affiliates can partner with agencies that are not members or affiliates with IAMNCC. Campuses can submit more than one application.

Application Process

Campus teams should identify a nonprofit and/or community partner prior to applying. The application process should include a strong understanding of the problem the team will be seeking to address. Teams will be chosen based on this understanding and the strength of their partnership.

Lead applicants can be students, staff, or faculty from Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact member campuses. The application form is now closed.

Project Examples

A range of projects and partners is encouraged. Applications will be judged on their understanding of the problem and their partnership. A few examples from other Campus Compact-supported projects are below.

Sandbags to handbags

Students noticed that following a major flood in the area, empty sandbags were being sent to the landfill, adding to the negative environmental impact of the disaster. The discussed the issue with the city and considered ways of reusing the bags. The also met with a community organization supporting refugees in artisan income projects. The students partnered with the organization to have the refugees turn the sandbags into handbags. The students then arranged for the marketing and sale of the handbags with proceeds going to the refugee organization.

Problem-solving student food insecurity

Students realized that many of their peers were facing food insecurity. They came together with a faculty member to study the issue and conducted a survey of campus. They learned that at least 40% of students experienced some level of food insecurity. They started working on solutions, beginning with a partnership with a local community organization interested in working to connect students to existing community organizations. They established an office on campus for that organization and led a campaign to raise funding to pay for staff members’ time on campus.

New tech leads to stronger small businesses

Students in a course on business finance noticed that many small businesses in their local area were struggling to stay open despite a growing student population. They met with small business owners and eventually connected with the neighborhood association. It was determined that many small business owners needed updated technology to cut costs. The students applied for a grant and set up a training program to help business owners access new technology and learn how to integrate it into their business.

After the Challenge

Prize-winning teams will also be matched with a mentor from Principal to support them through the initial implementation phase. The initial implementation phase will last from November 2020 to May 2021. At that time, the funded organization is expected to complete a report outlining the accomplishments and use of funds. There are no restrictions on the use of funds. Winning teams may also be eligible for additional support from Campus Compact staff and programs.


Zoom web conference


Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact