Michigan is My Home is the only UM student organization focused on empowering the homeless and impoverished populations through care package programs, social advocacy, and community engagement. The organization has a 10-member executive board and between 30 to 50 volunteers who will work on assembling care packages for low-income families transitioning into homes across Washtenaw County.
FoodFinder is both a smartphone app (FoodFinder – Fighting Hunger) and a website (www.foodfinderga.org) that delivers valuable information to food insecure children and their families to let them know exactly when and where they can receive free food assistance near them. Free food resources like food pantries, churches, and co-ops are listed, and the information for each resource includes things like street address, phone numbers, hours of operation, and languages spoken. FoodFinder requires zero monetary or login input from the user, and it provides all available resource data quickly, easily, and privately.
Robert Greenfield, Arnold Reed and Drew Koszulinski
Blacklist is Flipboard for the socially blacklisted perspectives of America - a media app for communities of color. We're reinventing diverse-driven media by bringing it into the mobile age and evolving the "conversation around diversity" into an interactive, cultural experience that users can engage with. Blacklist solves the problem of diverse media inaccessibility by pooling the best news, media, and trending content on the Internet and customizing content towards the narrative of the user.
2016 Runner-Up: Ditto
Brianna Wolin and Parisa Soraya
Over one-half of all American adults live with one or more chronic medical conditions. Often called “invisible illnesses,” feelings of loneliness are pervasive among these populations as patients do not feel fully understood or interpersonally connected, resulting in a high prevalence of depression. Ditto is a mobile application that provides on demand, in-person support by connecting individuals living with the same chronic illness in order to mitigate feelings of depression and isolation (www.findyourditto.com). With Ditto, individuals with chronic illness can find a support system whenever and wherever they need it and begin to feel like "it's not just me."
Allison Powell and Kyle Bettinger
PuffBarry is an alternative communication device for people with ALS or other muscular degenerative diseases. The device measures puffs of air through the nasal cavity and uses a Morse code like structure to allow patients to create sentences. Allison and Kyle were inspired to make this device after a good family friend, Dr. Michael Barry, passed away from ALS. After receiving the TEDxUofM Award for Innovation, Allison and Kyle went on to win The Start-Up, a competition hosted by the Center for Entrepreneurship at UofM. Allison also had the opportunity to give her very own TED talk at TEDxTraverseCity, which can be seen here.
2014: The Redlining Project
Zoe Stahl and Theo Schear
The Redlining Project is a public art installation and accompanying documentary about the practice of redlining. Redlining is a once-legal discriminatory practice whereby banks, insurance companies, and other financial institutions refused loans, mortgages, and insurance to those living in low-income neighborhoods in Detroit. Zoe and Theo had a vision to make the general public aware of the practice of redlining, and to reveal how the now-illegal practice has had long lasting and detrimental effects on previously redlined communities. With the help of a neighborhood group, Zoe and Theo physically outlined previously redlined neighborhoods with red thread. Accompanying this they created a small documentary to raise awareness of their project. Their documentary can be viewed here.