ISE Students Wow At XPRIZE Connect Pitch Day

As a Xennial (a micro-generation born between 1977 and 1983) watching Gen Z navigate this world, I’m continually amazed by what I see. I grew up drinking hose water, checking out books by writing on the card in the back, and eventually transitioning to computers and dial-up internet. I can still hear the America Online (AOL) connection noise. In high school, I didn’t think about things like climate change, renewable energy, or clean water. The world just…was. But now, the world is different, and this current era is being shepherded, molded, and driven by the brilliance, innovation, grit, and resilience of Gen Z.

Young minds can teach us so much about the world in which we live and help us develop ideas and solutions that launch society forward. This year, Inner Strength had the honor and privilege of launching the first XPRIZE Connect program in Philadelphia. Our groundbreaking program provided a cohort of high school students with a unique opportunity to contribute to solving global challenges while enhancing their understanding of Inner Strength principles. These students had the chance to refine their skills in stakeholder analysis and large-scale problem-solving, focusing on identifying breakthroughs in Renewable Energy and Water Pollution Management.

On May 25th, seven exceptional students from Bodine, Carver, Central, and Freire High Schools presented their final pitches to the XPRIZE Connect team, technology experts, and business leaders. “Inner Strength’s program with XPRIZE Connect is more than just a program; it’s a catalyst for the next generation of thinkers and problem-solvers. Watching these young participants tackle complex global challenges with such dedication and ingenuity reaffirms my belief in the power of youth-driven innovation,” said Frantz E. Alphonse, a competition judge and Co-Founder & Sr. Managing Director of Project Black at Ariel Alternatives, LLC, and an Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School.

Throughout the paid internship, student participants engaged in group exploration and mindfulness practices, which played a crucial role in enhancing their ability to approach complex challenges with innovative thinking, clarity, and resilience. These practices fostered a calm, open-minded, and focused mindset. By integrating mindfulness with creative problem-solving techniques, the students were better equipped to analyze stakeholder perspectives and develop effective solutions. The approach underscored the importance of combining emotional intelligence with critical thinking skills in education.

The two teams had amazing presentations and impressed all the attendees with their teamwork, idea development, and grasp of the scope of the problem statements. For their incredible work, graduates were recognized with completion certificates signed by the CEO of XPRIZE, Anousheh Ansari! With minds like these, the future is looking a lot brighter.

Sure beats drinking hose water!

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