School of Business invests $25,000 in student developed ESG solutions

2.23.2022 Article, Innovation, News Release, School News

A new initiative at Wake Forest University School of Business is taking the rising interests of sustainability and social responsibility to a new level with the investment of $25,000 toward student generated ideas for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) related goals at the University.

On Wednesday, the School of Business will launch ESG@Wake, an initiative geared toward encouraging students to learn more about ESG concepts and thinking critically about how to apply principles at Wake Forest University and beyond. The initiative includes a video pitch competition open to all Wake Forest students from March 1 – March 25 and a week of programming from March 28 – April 1 that will feature sessions by industry leaders and guest speakers on topics related to ESG.

“ESG is influencing how investments are assessed, board members are chosen and corporate relationships are maintained. It is changing the way we think about what constitutes success in business,” said Michelle Roehm, Interim Dean and Peter C. Brockway Chair of Strategic Management. “When we look back five years from now or 10 years from now at Wake Forest, we will see things that have changed because of the ideas generated by this competition. I feel very confident in that.”

The effort will engage the University community by addressing current challenges, collaborating with corporate partners that are leading in ESG areas, and implementing innovative ideas created by students.

“Being an informed citizen of the world is really what helps guide change,” said finance major Benny Potter.

For the pitch competition, student teams will submit a 100-second video in one of three tracks: Climate Neutrality, Globally Inclusive Wake Forest University, and The Student as a Stakeholder. Corporate partners and industry experts will serve as judges and review submissions. Finalists will present across each track and winning teams will be chosen on April 1. A total of $25,000 will be presented across nine teams, with the first-place team in each of the three categories receiving the grand prize of $5,000, second place winners receiving $2,500, and third place team winners receiving $1,000. There is also an opportunity for further investment by the University.

“ESG@Wake offers a unique opportunity for Wake Forest students to learn and contribute to solutions we all face in today’s complex business environment,” said T.J. Truskowski, Chief Development Officer for the School of Business. “Students at Wake Forest are focused on the intersection of change and growth – both in themselves and our world. Engaging our community in discussions about how business can make a difference is an important step toward progress.”

ESG@Wake will officially kickoff February 23, with a launch event where Windstream CEO and School of Business MBA alumnus Tony Thomas will serve as the guest speaker. Windstream, a privately held communications and software company, is a sponsor of the initiative. Windstream was recognized as a Sustainalytics ESG Industry Top Rated company and a Regional Top Rated company in 2022. The company will be the first investor in the ESG Innovation Fund, an opportunity to further raise money to implement student ideas and solutions.

Global professional services organization EY will also serve as a sponsor and EY representatives will serve as competition judges, along with other corporate partners.

To learn more about the ESG@Wake initiative at the Wake Forest School of Business, visit:

Media Contact: Danyelle Gary,, 336.582.0622