Hult Prize Finalists
Two teams of Middlebury Institute students, TucanTú (top) and “Learning Roots Network” (bottom) will compete in the regional finals of the annual Hult Prize competition in Boston and San Francisco on Saturday, March 14.

of the regional competition in San Francisco last year and was picked to participate in the seven-week Accelerator Program in Boston to build their prototype. The team, known as Salud2, is currently working on a launch of their project in Mexico City.

In part as a result of the great success of Salud2, the Middlebury Institute was one of the universities chosen to host an on-campus competition last fall. The Learning Roots Network team of Kelly Quackenbush MPA ’15, Noah Halton MPA ’15, Timothy Cunningham MAIPD ’16 and Katie Barthelow MPA/MAIEM ’16 advanced directly to the Regional Finals in San Francisco on March 14. They are very excited to deliver their pitch challenging dominant ideas about where knowledge comes from, who creates it, and what is considered valuable, at the event on Saturday. “We are going to examine what early childhood education means from a new perspective,” shares Kelly, “and synthesize that with our knowledge of holistic development.” She adds that they intend to demonstrate how they can serve the 10 million children living in urban slums and fill a market gap in the United States at the same time.

is the brainchild of Laura Benoit MPA ’15, Derek Musial MBA ’15 and Jeanette Pelizzon MPA ’14, who submitted their idea for an innovative social enterprise the traditional way and beat out 20,000 other applicants to advance to the Regional Finals in Boston. After participating in the campus competition in November, the team went back to the drawing board with the input from the judges and came up with a new approach. “We have put a lot of time and energy into better understanding the needs of young children and how best to address them in a sustainable manner in the urban slum,” says Jeanette. Building on real-world work experience dealing with some of these issues on three continents, the team has added the theories and tools acquired at MIIS to come up with an innovative approach to the challenge.

The winning teams from the five Hult Regional Finals will be invited to attend the Accelerator Program to further develop their idea before presenting at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting in New York in September. The grand prize winner will receive $1 million in seed funding.

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Jason Warburg

Eva Gudbergsdottir