By Ryan Lawler
Earlier this year we teamed up with NationSwell, an organization dedicated to powering solutions and innovations that will move the world forward, to find entrepreneurs looking to bridge the opportunity gap.
By launching the Samsung NEXT Innovation Challenge, we searched for innovators focused on advancing opportunities in education, workforce development, or economic empowerment.
After reviewing hundreds of applications, we narrowed the field down to five finalists: Literator, RaiseMe, Edovo, Sou Sou, and TalkingPoints. Whether it be through improved early childhood education, financial empowerment, or providing better access to technology within the criminal justice system, each company brought a unique approach to how we can use today’s tools to bridge the opportunity divide in America.
At a private event in New York hosted by Samsung NEXT and NationSwell this week, we held a roundtable discussion with the finalists and announced the winner of the challenge. Below are just a few key highlights from the discussion:
- “Literacy is one of the things that is the biggest blocker for student success … so for us, it was a no-brainer that literacy would be the big systems change work that we wanted to tackle first. But it’s turned into a bigger vision beyond that.” — Michelle Ching, Literator
- “If we’re not helping people, if we’re just opening the door and saying ‘Go home,’ we run the risk of very rapidly destroying any gains we made in [criminal justice reform] because of a few minor events … it’s about helping people learn and develop and make choices.” — Brian Hill, Edovo
- “There are so many communities abroad, even immigrant communities in the US, they’re using these informal lending circles to save money amongst themselves, rotate money and fund their goals … so I thought to myself, ‘This is a system that’s working, what if we modernized it with tech?’” — Fonta Gilliam, Sou Sou
- “We started focused on the financial aid part of the equation because we see that’s the biggest barrier for students and families, but ultimately we want to help all students discover and realize their college ambitions.” — Preston Silverman, RaiseMe
- “Most of the resources right now are going to school environments and teachers, which is also really important, but we can also unlock the power of parents and families to be able to improve student performance.” — Heejae Lim, TalkingPoints
And the winner of the Samsung NEXT Innovation Challenge is… Literator!
- Samsung NEXT (@SamsungNEXT) November 14, 2018
We’re excited to support Michelle as she works to help teachers provide better, more personalized instruction to students and promote literacy across the country.
Originally published at https://samsungnext.com on November 16, 2018.