winning teams will receive up to $3500 in cash prizes!

Creating a more socio-economically diverse pipeline for consulting

Sponsored by: boston consulting group

Students coming from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds face particular challenges and barriers to recruiting for consulting jobs (and similar professional occupations), whether they are college students or in graduate programs. For example, these students might have work obligations or limited budgets that limit their ability to attend recruiting events. In other cases they may feel unprepared or disadvantaged for certain elements of the recruiting process – from formal dinners to networking conversations. How can we improve the consulting recruitment process so that it is an even-playing field for those who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds?

Fostering inclusive commercial development in Somerville

Sponsored by: the city of somerville

Many cities across the US ranging from Durham, NC to New York City have struggled to ensure inclusive commercial development alongside redevelopment efforts. How can the city of Somerville attract and support minority businesses to ensure its redevelopment efforts foster diversity and equity?

Gender equity in corporate settings: Women in STEM

Sponsored by: novartis

According to a recent study, “Women in Workplace 2018” women remain underrepresented at every level and Corporate America has made little progress in improving women’s representation since 2015. Globally progress is also extremely slow. Since 2006, the overall gender gap has reduced by 3.6% and in 2018, there was only a .03% reduction. Studies have shown that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. How do we produce long-term, sustainable improvements in early career development, retention, and promotion opportunities for women in STEM to move closer to gender equity in corporate settings?

Improving financial literacy among women

sponsored by: invest in girls

Research over the last six years shows a persistent gender gap in financial and investment literacy and a consistent finding is that both millennial and older women score lower than men on financial literacy measures. Financial illiteracy has negative implications on women’s long-term financial well-being as women who are less financially literate are less likely to plan for retirement and be successful planners. How can we create a sustainable community where women and men, especially the uninformed, can connect and support one another in achieving financial literacy?

Improving navigation technologies for the blind

Sponsored by: microsoft

Many people have access to technologies that make navigating unfamiliar spaces easy, predictable, and inexpensive. However, the success of navigation apps is still aided by the observations people make of their environment via their natural senses. The ability to see detour signs, dangerous construction sites, poor street lighting, and many other navigation obstacles provides supplemental data to users. While navigation technologies adequately serve those who can see and thus respond to these obstacles, they are incapable of providing this additional necessary information to blind pedestrians.
How can available and emerging technologies converge to create better navigation solutions for blind pedestrians? What data will these solutions need and how will they access it? How can these solutions be useful when navigating both new and familiar spaces? How will this solution advance the state of navigation for all people? Please think broadly and creatively through this challenge.

Improving scheduling for small businesses & their wage workers

Approximately 1 in 10 workers have jobs with unstable hours. The majority of these workers are low-income, and the unpredictability of work-shifts contributes to their income instability and impacts their ability to manage other responsibilities, such as childcare. Policies to regulate how employers schedule their workers are being proposed at the local, state, and federal levels. How can we help small companies meet the requirements of these new policies and schedule workers in a way that works for both the employers and employees?

Mental Health Resources: Access for Students of Color and At Risk Students

Sponsored by: The Steve Fund

One in five adults in the US experience mental illness, but only 40% of those affected receive treatment. Access to treatment for mental health services varies significantly by ethnic background. According to 2015 data, African American & Hispanic Americans used mental health services at about half  the rate of whites and Asian Americans at about one-third the rate. Regardless of ethnicity, cost or inadequate insurance was the most common reason for not using mental health services. However, white adults are more likely to report using mental health services compared to their black and Hispanic counterparts with the same insurance status. For example 34% of uninsured white adults experiencing mental illness received care, compared to only 21.6% of black and 18.5% of hispanic adults. How might we increase access and expand the scale, scope, and usage of mental health resources for college students of color, and all at-risk students?

Mitigating discrimination on sharing economy rating systems

Researchers have found that the technological innovations that enable sharing economy platforms to make peer-to-peer transactions easier and faster than ever before can have important unintended consequences, including gender and racial discrimination. Although ratings are necessary for the marketplace to work, there is inherent discrimination in having passengers/users rate drivers/hosts and vice versa, especially when it comes to members who are female or people of color. How can we alter sharing economy rating systems to reduce bias?

Preventing sexual violence on campus

An estimated 11.2% of all undergraduate and graduate students experience sexual violence. Such experiences result in significant physical, emotional, and mental harm and impede over 11% of us from achieving our best. How can we make our students safer and prevent sexual violence, harassment and discrimination?

Revitalizing careers with livable wages

Sponsored by: grads of life

Entry-level roles increasingly require a bachelor’s degree, yet there about 5 million young adults in the U.S. who are looking for jobs without college degrees. There are opportunities in industries that do not require a bachelor’s degree and offer long term career opportunities with livable wages. The challenge is, many of these industries are aging out or seen as unattractive. Two examples include the hospitality industry and skilled trades. For example, it is anticipated that 31 million roles will be left vacant by 2020 due to retirement in the skilled trades industry alone. How do we change perceptions of industries that are aging out or unattractive to young adults without bachelor’s degrees to attract this diverse talent? What information is needed, or what channels should be used?

Society reentry from incarceration

In 2011, over half of individuals released from Massachusetts state prisons ended up back in the criminal system within three years. How can we set people up for successful reentry into society? Examples might be innovative ways to increase post-secondary education in prisons or tools for navigating resources in our local community.

What’s Missing: Holistic Criteria for Identifying and Keeping Top Talent

sponsored by: wayfair

Traditional campus and early-career hiring focuses on key success markers (e.g. school reputation, GPA, extracurricular leadership, prior work experience) that does not effectively assess candidates from underrepresented minority groups who may have relevant experience not reflected in the traditional markers. In addition, hiring managers tend to hire those with common backgrounds and styles. This often results in lack of diversity. Design an unbiased way to find, hire, and develop early-career candidates for high-profile roles at Wayfair and other high-growth technology companies.