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Dell Social Innovation Challenge

On May 14, 2013, student innovators, academics and corporations got together at the Dell Social Innovation Challenge Awards at Austin Music Hall to demonstrate what the powers of positive thinking and purpose with a healthy side of inspiration can accomplish. This was truly a celebration of student innovation with lively music, good food and beverages and a raffle for prizes given by some of the sponsors. And I must admit, it was a great venue to meet others as everyone was talking about who and what their driving inspirations are to make this world a better place.

First, here are the staggering numbers:
Over 25,000 student teams have applied in the seven years of the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.
Five teams were finalists for the awards. That’s out of 2,600 projects that were sent in this year.
$350,000 was awarded last night to various projects.

Next, the truly inspirational:
Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell Inc.; our co-founder and chairman, Roy Spence; and Blake Mycoskie, founder and Chief Giver of Toms shoes were among the speakers of the night who shared the stories of their companies and gave advice to the young entrepreneurs. They also all touched on the fact that big things start from small seeds. If you think you can’t do something because you’re only one, then think again and think bigger.

Quintos told us that every student has the power to change the world. And that is a LOT of positive change. Spence said that entrepreneurs represent the spirit, passion and drive of the future. He also said that having a purpose with true passion is being brave enough to jump first and learning to fly on the way down. Mycoskie informed us that giving is the most gratifying experience of his life.

Each of the five finalists gave a 90-second speech informing the audience of their projects. All were excited to spread the word of not only why what they are doing is important to them, but also how their projects would help to make the world a better place. The grand prize was awarded to Solar Conduction Dryer for their approach to help improve the economic condition of the Indian farmer population by solar processing of agricultural products.

I walked away with a wonderful sense of purpose. I took notes throughout the night of my projects that I had hoped to start when I attended college and how those might be presented now. I woke up in the middle of the night with the hope that I had passed on seeds of great vision to my students in my almost 11 years of teaching at the high school and college levels. A few speakers touched on this when they vocalized the importance of teaching social awareness and never giving up on your dreams to the next generation of students.

So what are you passionate about and how are you going to help change the world?

Image courtesy of @DellSocialInnov.

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