A team of undergraduate students — Ashley Ho and Julia Pepper from New York University, Kaiji Uno from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Polina Yakubova from Baruch College — has won the annual U.S. Accenture Innovation Challenge. This year’s nonprofit partner is the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), providing opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue active lifestyles through physical fitness and competitive athletics.
Student teams developed proposals to help CAF scale its High School Adaptive Sports Program to introduce more middle and high school students with physical disabilities to the value of physical activity and being part of their school track and field teams. The winning team was a collaborative effort by students from the three schools and their proposal was selected following three rounds of competition during the winter semester. Nearly 700 students applied to participate in the Challenge and 47 student teams from 80 undergraduate programs across the United States competed.
The winning team’s solution calls for intensifying community engagement efforts by establishing a student volunteer program and alumni network and by expanding CAF’s social media presence. CAF program presence would be elevated through a new networking portal and digital marketing featuring influencer engagement and support (E.g., from Paralympians, and other accomplished adaptive athletes by sport), user-generated content, media coverage and spotlight achievements.
“We are thankful for this opportunity to rally innovative ideas from university students to help address needs and aspirations of the 21 million Americans who are physically challenged,” said Marty Rodgers, Senior Managing Director of Accenture’s U.S. South Region and Executive Sponsor for the Accenture Innovation Challenge. “As we emerge from the pandemic, with growing digital and networking capabilities, it is an especially exciting time to boost and expand efforts to support healthier and more active lives for millions of individuals living with physical challenges.”
“The thoughtful evaluation and recommendations from this talented pool of college students was very impressive. The ideas and forward thinking on how to raise awareness and reach more student athletes with physical challenges will lead us all to a more inclusive world,” said Nancy Reynolds, Chief of Strategic Partnerships for CAF.
Launched in 2012, the Accenture Innovation Challenge is an annual case competition providing college students from across the United States an opportunity to offer ideas and solutions to support a priority goal of a nonprofit organization.