Student pitch competition winners receive funding to implement ESG solutions

4.6.2022 Article, News Release, School News

Wake Forest University School of Business recently selected the winners of its inaugural ESG@Wake student pitch competition.

Spearheaded by the business school and supported by a variety of campus partners, ESG@Wake encouraged students to learn more about environmental, social, and governance related concepts and ways to apply principles at the University and beyond. A total of $70,000 will be used for cash prizes and additional funding to further develop and implement top placing ideas.

The competition was open to undergraduate and graduate students in all Wake Forest academic programs, including business, law, divinity, arts and sciences, professional studies and medicine. Ideas presented ranged from increasing the use of solar energy on campus to supporting greater access and equity through the development of a food co-op.

“It was amazing to see the innovative pitches at the ESG@Wake student competition. The diversity of focus areas and academic concentrations illustrate just how much potential there is for students to make a difference in such critical focus areas as sustainability, social responsibility and corporate governance,” said John Montana, Executive Director for Strategy and Innovation. “The passion and commitment of these young leaders is inspiring, and we are excited to see what they will accomplish in the future.”

A total of 90 students submitted video pitches in one of three tracks: Globally Inclusive Wake Forest University, Student as a Stakeholder and Climate Neutrality. Student winners were selected on April 1, the conclusion of a week of programming that featured sessions by industry leaders and guest speakers on topics related to ESG. Corporate partners and industry experts served as judges.

ESG@Wake and ESG Week were sponsored by Windstream, EY, and Wells Fargo.

2022 ESG@Wake Pitch Competition Winners

First place teams in each of the three categories received a grand prize of $5,000, second place winners received $2,500 and third place team winners received $1,000.

Track: Globally Inclusive WFU

1st Place: Co-op Grocery Store

Pitch: Initiate a campus co-op grocery store managed by students that will provide goods for every diet style. The store will include subsidized prices for high-quality foods, products from local farms and items for those with special dietary needs. Members who pay for the store will determine items sold.

Team members:

Victor Akangah
Stevenson Cerisier
Rotchild Dorson

2nd Place: Project T.O.N.E

Pitch: Implement Project T.O.N.E ( Teaching, Opportunity, Networking, and Engagement). The initiative will work to provide credited professional development for faculty to create and catalog culturally relevant, peer-reviewed tested resources; support sponsored experiences at more diverse institutions to build connections and cultural literacy; expand formalized and track programing for professional context to be utilized by faculty and students; fund cross-campus student and faculty led projects and experiences in the community that support innovation.

Team members:

Kim Mayes
Maalik Hazziez
Serita Liles
Jaliyah Grant

3rd Place: Wake Forest International

Pitch: Advance global interconnectedness education by creating Wake Forest International, an academic program that includes virtual classes and degree programs for local and international students.

Team members:

Matthew Slutzker
Kimberly Tomkies
Joshua Savitz

Track: Student as a Stakeholder

1st Place: Sustainability 101

Pitch: Develop and implement a Sustainability 101 course to educate all students on how to think sustainably. The course will feature lectures on sustainable behaviors and include a research project that allows students to investigate one aspect of sustainable living and explore ways to incorporate the habit into their lifestyles when leaving college.

Team members:

Anna Loynes
Caroline Walker
Emy Yamamoto

2nd Place: Deacon Drive

Pitch: Develop, Deacon Drive, a geolocation based app that will allow student riders to request rides from student drivers. The app will provide benefits and a rewards system to all student participants.

Team members:

Matthew Slutzker
Kimberly Tomkies
Joshua Savitz

3rd Place: First Year Seminar

Pitch: Redesign first year seminar (FYS 100) courses to prepare students to address ESG issues. FYS courses will highlight critical ESG challenges and provide experiences for new students to explore global sustainability issues. Through this model, students will develop their networking and advocacy capabilities alongside the very people with whom they will lead Wake Forest into a more sustainable future.

Team members:

Ty Hardimon
Andrew Wright
Tony Piacenza
Emma Soederstroem

Track: Climate Neutrality

1st Place: Velocity

Pitch: Install solar charging velocity tables that will serve as sustainable and ADA accessible outdoor workspaces that are completely self-sufficient and can charge up to 50 devices a day.

Team members:

Marie Claire Goff
SJ Willis
Patti Chen
Steven Niepa
Maya Sidhu
Ramona Suris
Caroline Ward

2nd Place: Solar-powered

Pitch: Implement solar-powered charging stations across campus that will convert solar energy to electricity where electrical outlets are not available.

Team members:

Blaire Jackson
Lucy Kingma
Bridget Barsanti
Emma Starzyk

3rd Place: Wake Energize

Pitch: Retrofit gym equipment to create and store energy during every workout by utilizing new advancements in motion and vibration harvesting technology to convert human motion into direct current power.

Team members:

Matthew Slutzker
Kimberly Tomkies
Joshua Savitz

Media Contact: Danyelle Gary,, 336.582.0622