Serve-Learn-Sustain is proud to announce the two team winners of the 2017 Civic Innovation Award, sponsored by the Commerce Club Foundation of Atlanta. The teams and their projects are described below, in blog posts written by the students.

The Award funds both teams to work with SLS partner the Center for Civic Innovation to support development of a social enterprise that addresses a local community need. CCI will train and support the teams in:

  • Identifying a real community need
  • Business model canvassing and financial modeling for the social enterprise
  • Developing mission and problem solution statements
  • Developing a pitch

Students will also receive co-working passes to CCI that will give them access to a community of social entrepreneurs in Atlanta. In addition, they will be able to attend events and programs at CCI throughout the semester.

As explained below, one of the teams will also research, analyze, build, and test a proof of concept for a social innovation prototype that nurtures sustainable communities, as part of the Georgia Tech CREATE-X Idea 2 Prototype (I2P) program (research course 2699/4699) for 3 hours of credit and a grade. Here at SLS, we are excited about this new partnership with CCI, CREATE-X, and these two enthusiastic teams! And we look forward to tracking their progress.

Congratulations Kaitlin and Vinutna, and Chloe and Samantha! And a big thank you to the Commerce Club Foundation of Atlanta for their generous support.



Project: Inventory Application for Nonprofits

Team Members: Kaitlin Rizk (IE) & Vinutna Veeragandham (CS)

Written by Kaitlin Rizk

Around the world girls miss three to five days of school each month due to their menstrual period. Many girls fall behind and can even drop out of school because of this issue. Fortunately, an organization, Days for Girls, is making reusable sanitary pads for girls so that they can stay in school each month. Their production centers are in Uganda, Ghana, and Nepal where local women make the sanitary pads and sell them to women and girls in the community. Days for Girls manages their inventory by hand tracking it through paper and whiteboards, which has become a very tedious process. After working at Days for Girls in Summer 2016 I noticed how arduous the process of managing inventory was.

When I came back to Georgia Tech in the fall, I interviewed many nonprofits and social enterprises and found a similar process of using paper and handwriting tags for products in managing inventory. This is when InventBox was created. InventBox is a web application that manages inventory for nonprofits and social enterprises. Our clients, both in Uganda and the United States, are organizations that can use this application in order to worry less about inventory management and more about the mission of their organization.

Currently, InventBox is working on developing the web application. We are an exciting team of two women at Georgia Tech both passionate about women’s empowerment and helping nonprofits grow to reach their goals. The teammates are myself (Kaitlin Rizk), an Industrial Engineer, and Vinutna Veeragandham, a Computer Scientist. We have three clients for which we are developing the application: Days for Girls in Kampala, Uganda, SPOUTS, an organization that makes ceramic water filters in Kampala, Uganda, and Mister Migs, an Atlanta-based organization that makes dog clothes and gives career opportunities to marginalized youth in the United States.

This semester we are going to work with the Center for Civic Innovation on developing the right features for these organizations. Our goal is to offer a simple, user-friendly interface to help these organizations manage their inventory and grow their businesses, ultimately impacting many people along the way. The Center for Civic Innovation is a community-driven research and development lab for social entrepreneurs. We will be given the amazing opportunity of personal mentoring with the Center for Civic Innovation, a place where many nonprofits and social enterprises were able to launch from! We will have the ability to be a part of a community of individuals that want to change the world just as we do. We hope this community will give us guidance and support to reach many nonprofits with InventBox.

At the same time, Georgia Tech’s Create-X program is allowing us to get undergraduate research credit by participating in the Idea 2 Prototype course that they offer for students. They are giving us support to work with a Georgia Tech faculty that will help us explore our ideas. Both Create-X and the Center for Civic Innovation will be majorly important in our company’s development.

We are excited to be a part of the Center for Civic Innovation’s community! We are very grateful for this opportunity provided by Serve-Learn-Sustain and cannot wait to make a sustainable business that will lift the burden of inventory management from nonprofits. 


Project: Promote Healthier Lifestyles among GT Students

Team Members: Chloe Kiernicki (INTA) & Samantha Gistren (EnvE)

Why We Started

We both have a passion for sustainability and incorporating its principles and actions into multiple areas of our lives. One of our team members, Samantha, an Environmental Engineering student, developed a passion for sustainability whilst growing up in communities where homelessness, pollution, and overall waste were a prevalent tragedy in the area; the second member, Chloe, a student active in Serve-Learn-Sustain, grew her passion through community gardens in her neighborhood and, specifically, through seeing the relationship that food and food security has on connecting cultures and developing bonds amongst peoples of various backgrounds.

After becoming friends through the Grand Challenges program during our first year at Georgia Tech, we found a common interest in community growth through urban agriculture.  Through this friendship, we enriched our common interest and began to work together to explore the role and effects of urban agriculture in the Metro-Atlanta area.

What We Have Done So Far

Utilizing resources at Georgia Tech and the Center for Civic Innovation, we have reached out to individuals already working in their own communities to integrate healthier living habits and sustainable food practices.  Through community events and interaction, these individuals aid empowerment and the development a sense of pride in community and, thus, a pride in oneself.

Guided by our interaction with these experts and research reports conducted about various Atlanta districts, we, Samantha and Chloe, have formed connections beyond campus with hope to foster similar practices in our own community, Georgia Tech.  By collaborating with and learning from D2DAW, an urban farm in West Atlanta dedicated to involving locals in their focus of urban sustainability through urban food and farm production, we have gained hands-on experience both on the farm and in the importance of community education.

Why We’re Excited about This Project

We are so excited to be able to bring about change in the individual lives of college students by promoting healthier lifestyles.  Through greater consumption of fresh and local foods, students can increase their mental wellbeing and provide positive economic benefits to the surrounding area.  We both believe that a healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy mind, which is essential to prosper at a rigorous school, such as Georgia Tech.  Our team is eager to cultivate this passion and engage other students, and, on a larger scale, to the greater Atlanta area, specifically in food deserts and low income areas. We are also eager to spread awareness about the benefits of agricultural and environmental sustainability. 

What We Hope to Accomplish

This semester, we will use our own community, Georgia Tech, and resources at the Center for Civic Innovation to explore how to create demand and interest in fresh, healthy foods as an integral part of students’ lifestyles. Thanks to the Commerce Club Foundation of Atlanta, we will explore the factors that drive the purchase, preparation, and consumption of everyday meals, and how to gradually change these habits to create a more sustainable future.  Through the information and data we gather, we will outline a program that incorporates sustainable living principles into the everyday lives of students to spread the appreciation of local agriculture and lead more students to actively make more sustainable choices in their food consumption.  We will found the program this semester through an online blog or newsletter initially targeted toward interested Georgia Tech community members to educate students before working directly with them to provide hands-on learning experiences taking care of gardens, and working with local farmers to see the direct effects of growing food locally and sustainably.

Using the knowledge gained through connections and through the work itself, we hope, later on, to expand to surrounding areas and urban farms in Atlanta!