The 2019 Building a Better World Through Business event series was held on Loyola University Maryland’s Evergreen campus on March 26-28, 2019. The annual series featured three events designed to celebrate the good that business does for society. All events were open to Loyola students, faculty, staff, alumni, the Baltimore community, and friends of the University.
On March 26, Loyola welcomed Bill Strickland to campus to provide the keynote address: “The Art of Leadership, and the Business of Social Change.” Mr. Strickland, who has been recognized by the U.S. Senate for his contributions to social innovation, is the executive chairman of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation—a jobs training center and community arts program that works with corporations, community leaders, and schools to provide disadvantaged children and adults the opportunities they need to build a better future.
More than 275 attendees filled McManus Theater and were inspired by Mr. Strickland’s call to action and inspirational message of how an organization can have a lasting impact on its community. “People are born into the world as assets, not liabilities,” Mr. Strickland said. “It's all about how you treat them. Join me in making this planet a better place. You guys have the DNA to do it, and I believe I’ve got the model!”
The Student Pitch and Poster Competition was held on March 27 and it was sponsored by M&T Bank. The event drew nearly 275 attendees, including students, faculty and interested community members. Josh Smith, Dean of Loyola’s School of Education served as the MC and Stuart A. Smith III, Managing Director, M&T Investment Banking Group, the competition’s sponsor, was on hand to congratulate the winners.
Prospective submitters were asked to respond to the challenge: “Develop an initiative, service or product that contributes to Baltimore’s economic and social well-being.” A total of 42 teams, representing 109 students, submitted proposals. Twelve teams—consisting of 29 students—were selected to present at the pitch event. A new feature in this year’s lead up to the pitch competition was to pair each of the teams with mentors from Baltimore’s entrepreneur community to help the teams refine their business idea and final presentation.
The pitch event was conducted in two parts. The first was a “quick fire” poster session in which each of the 12 teams had two minutes to deliver their pitch to the judges. This year’s judges – Kerrie Carden of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures, Mustafa Wahid of Transitioning U, Josh Russakis of Venture for America, and Tim Frank of Frank Industries – then had three minutes for questions. The judges then named five finalists to the final round in which the teams presented to the full audience. The teams again had two minutes to present their business idea, followed by questioning from the judges.
First place, earning a $1,500 award, when to Sarah Hasnain for her Stell.AR Speller application. This application was designed to address the issue of literacy in the Baltimore city schools. Second place, earning $1,000, went to Rachel Jarman and Angela Cottini for Robot Roadtrip, a program designed to teach young students basic engineering skills. Third place, earning $500, went to Quinn Cosgrave for his Insure Next Door program designed to provide insurance to low income individuals. A new category for 2019, the People’s Choice, earned $500 for Paul Troise, Ben Cuizon, and Ryan Diehl for their plan to provide Baltimore with a fleet of solar powered buses.
Student participants, including those not among the finalists, indicated they found the experience fun and helpful. All have been encouraged to continue to work on their ideas with faculty and community experts, and to take particular advantage of the services being offered by Loyola’s newly-formed Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Rachel Jarman of Robot Roadtrip, class of 2021, agreed, “I believe having a pitch competition on campus adds value not only to Loyola, but the surrounding areas as well. It allows the ambitious students of Loyola to apply their education to a real-life problem that they have been inspired to change or improve, leading to research, development, planning, and ultimately seeing their idea become reality.”
The event series concluded on March 28 with the “Loyola, Business, and Community Partners: Coming together to Build a Better Baltimore” networking event and panel discussion. The event was moderated by John Brothers, president of the T. Rowe Price Foundation and Program for Charitable Giving. Panelists included: Augie Chiasera, Regional President, M&T Bank, Tyson Garith, Director of Project Services, Strong City Baltimore, Kelly Hodge-Williams, Loyola alumna '89, Former President & CEO, Business Volunteers Maryland, and Michael Walton, Founding Principal of Atlantic Investment Associates, and Member of the Board of Sponsors for the Sellinger School of Business and Management.
With more than 120 Loyola students, faculty, and community members gathered in the 4th Floor Program Room, the lively conversation brought a wide range of opinions on ways to strengthen strategic connections and establish new partnerships, discuss existing resources for stakeholders, and identify outstanding community needs.
What should one focus on when forming a strong partnership? “A real ability to be self-aware as an entity is of critical importance,” says Mr. Garith from Strong City Baltimore. Others on the panel agreed that “partnerships in business are like a marriage — communication, shared values, and balance of investment/return maintain a beneficial and effective relationship for both parties.”