Incubating ideas for social change

Do you or a group of friends have an idea to address a need on campus or that benefits the community? iChangeFIU, formally known as GOJA-iChangeFIU Social Innovation Challenge, is one of the newest programs at the Center for Leadership and Service. 

iChangeFIU today is still a social impact program that strengthens the capacity of students to develop innovative solutions to complex social problems. Our overall mission is to create a space where students can learn about social innovation and entrepreneurship, pitch an idea to address a need in our campus community to a panel of informed judges, receive mentorship during the process, and earn a chance to be awarded funding to kickstart those ideas. 

How to participate

iChangeFIU is the premier social innovation shark tank at FIU! All you have to do is come up with a 3-5 minute pitch that:

  • Identify a problem that affects a specific population
  • Identify a potential solution to that problem
  • Describe how your idea for a sustainable venture (non-profit or for-profit) can be a part of the solution

Apply Today!

Past winners

  • 2016-2017

    Andrea Saladrigas

    Master Honey

    We aim to empower lower income women to start their own micro beekeeping business by proving them with all the education and economic resources that they need, as well as assuring them a steady line of income by buying and commercializing the honey produced.

  • 2017-2018

    Alyssa Pepio

    H.E.A.R.T.: Human trafficking Education and Resource Training

    Many anti-trafficking organizations provide some form of training on human trafficking, however very few focus on education environments, and even fewer follow a sustainable “train the trainer” format. Human Trafficking Education And Resource Training plans to take a trauma-informed, education focused, and sustainable approach.

  • 2018-2019

    First Place: Vikaasha - Yashaswi Tapadia, Arquimides Perez-Leyva, and Katie Friescen

    Growing up in India, Yashaswi (Yashi) Tapadia, a sophomore studying economics, saw farmers struggle — working more than 80 hours a week and still not able to make enough money and yield enough crops to feed their families. So, she, along with Arquimides (Arqui) Perez-Leyva and Katie Friescen, sought out a solution. The team decided to bring greenhouse technology to schools so that children of farming families can bring the skills and knowledge back home.

    Read the full story: Bettering the lives of farmers in India through its youth

    2nd Place: Good Dog Project - Angel Ribolla

    Angel Ribolla, a FIU Online senior studying psychology and entrepreneurship, took her college experience full-circle when she Skyped-in from nearly 1,000 miles away to pitch her passion project helping people train dogs via instructional web videos. The Good Dog Project, which Ribolla has been developing since early 2017, will offer online dog training videos to shelters, rescues and people adopting dogs. She also wants to make “Dog Trainer in a Box” kits for new pet owners and trainers alike to have the tools and resources they need to work out behavioral issues with their furry friends.

    Read the full story: Bringing an online education full circle — for the pups

    3rd Place: HeadLight - Kennedy Villard

    When Kennedy Villard brought his first car to school in 2017, he was shocked by the parking pandemonium he endured trying to find a spot. After talking to students, he realized others have experienced the same problem. Villard decided to do something about it. Villard, a senior studying broadcast media and international relations, invented an app called Headlight, that helps commuter students find spots efficiently and quickly.

    Read the story here: Student turns parking struggle into $1,000

  • 2019-2020

    1st Place: Vi Natirel - Rebekah Antoine

    There is High Maternal Mortality Rates and this project works to address Racial Inequity & Disparities in Maternal Health with a Family Wellness Center that focuses on the overall well-being and wellness of families. By providing a supportive and nurturing maternal health workforce and environment that fosters growth and empowerment during each stage of a family life cycle, my hope is to close this gap disproportionally affecting women of color.

    2nd Place: College Thrifts - Patricia Garcia

    Every year 19.9 million students will attend colleges and universities across the U.S. On college campuses across the nation, pride and school spirit are second nature. Buying college merchandise is a popular way for students to represent their school community and exhibit their school spirit. However, students simply hoping to sport their school's name may be deterred from purchasing such items due to their high cost. In pricing these products so high, universities are excluding lower-income students who cannot afford to purchase this merchandise, while catering towards those who can. College Thrifts is an inclusive, resale application for students/alumni to buy and resell their gently used college apparel while also reducing their carbon footprint.

    3rd Place: InvisaBro - Natasha Passarini

    1 in 5 students suffer from mental illnesses that limit their success and development in their studies, social and personal lives. They don't have any tool that provides easy-to-use resources all in one place to grow and learn basic, yet important areas of life when passing through these critical stages and ages of development. InvisaBro is an all-in-one app that is designed to provide help to students as an “invisible guidance” as if it were an older sibling helping rather than a parent telling them what to do. The app’s main purpose is to help students who suffer from at least one invisible mental illness or simply do not have the privilege of having an older sibling to support them. App users will be supported in areas all the way from school and health, to their finances, professional careers, and useful resources. The app will be customized to suit each student with their own set of needs and interests.