Four campus groups to receive $15,000 from Campus Y Social Innovation Inccubator program

Members of four campus groups are looking forward to receiving $15,000, free building space and faculty advising for their own social innovation.

The Campus Y announced the four winners of its first Social Innovation Incubator program at the TEDxUNC conference Saturday.

Originally, the plan was to pick three groups to occupy the third floor of the Campus Y building, but the selection committee could not decide on which group to turn down, said Richard Harrill, director of Campus Y.

The Campus Y is in the process of raising $15,000 for each group to use, and $10,000 for renovations to the space, Harrill said.

The Campus Y then submitted a proposal to the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost to use the space after the previous organization moved for the Social Innovation Incubator.

One group, HOPE Gardens, has already started moving into the incubator space, he said.

HOPE Gardens focuses on developing relationships between the University and the community, including high school volunteers, gardeners, the homeless and low-income families.

Co-chairwoman Meg VanDeusen said the group will use the space as headquarters, and members hope to use the resources to develop a sustainable program that will deliver food to low-income families in the area.

Another winner, Carolina Music Outreach, connects volunteers and students from low-income families for free music lessons to students.

The program enlists 40 music students, but has twice the number of applications, and students have to bring their own instruments, co-president Katie Weinel said.

Weinel said the group will use the money to create a Music Empowerment Program, which will lend instruments to its participants.

“Being a part of Campus Y gives credibility and will let more people know about it,” co-president Maggie Peng said.

Both groups are planning to use the new advising resources to receive non-profit organization status, members said.

Members of winning group KM Water Solutions plan to use the money to distribute inexpensive microbial water quality testing devices to countries like Bangladesh and Tanzania.

The devices were developed by two UNC professors, said Alice Wang, a doctoral student who is helping to develop KM Water Solutions.

She said the group does not have a business model but wants to use these opportunities to meet the demand they already have for their equipment.

“We have gotten a lot of interest from different international organizations, academia and NGOs, and we need to get our product out there to people who need it,” Wang said.

The fourth winner, SEA Brand, is an apparel company that identifies clothing colors with causes and donates 25 percent of its profits to charity.

David Baron, co-founder of the group, said he created SEA to study ethical production business.

“We want to make the connection to the cause much less obvious and obnoxious,” he said. “Style comes first.”

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