Changemaker Challenge


The Changemaker Challenge

The Changemaker Challenge encourages Cougar students to create positive change by taking action on our campus and in our local community.

The Changemaker Challenge is a global initiative, and at the College of Charleston, the Sustainability Literacy Insitute is calling on undergraduate and graduate students to pitch a sustainable solution to an environmental, economic or social problem -- and demonstrate an understanding of that problem on a systemic level. The Changemaker Challenge is comprised of two parts: a proposal and a pitch competition. 

A panel of judges will then select finalists and invite them to participate in a pitch competition in the Spring 2020 semester. The pitch competition includes a 3-minute pitch and a 5-minute Q&A session with Changemaker judges. Ultimately, the judges will award $5,000 in prize money to various teams and participants.

Changemaker Challenge projects can target problems on or off-campus and should be implementable within a few months. You can explore Changemaker entries from around the world for inspiration.

By participating in Changemaker, you can create a well-developed portfolio to share with future employers or members of the community -- and have your proposal vetted by experts with the knowledge and skills to help you make a positive difference. Plus, competing in the challenge is a good resume builder and an opportunity to receive funding for your idea.

Getting started

To learn more about the Changemaker Challenge or to brainstorm with us, please contact Changemaker Challenge coordinater and Sustainability Literacy Institute Innovation Fellow Dave Hansen at

Dr. Hansen will host a series of workshops for students interested in particpating in the 2020 Changemaker Challenge. We welcome you to drop by our HQ to learn more:

  • Monday, November 25 from 9 to 9:30 a.m. (Center for Sustainability, 14 Green Way, Room 302)

We encourage you to work alone or with a team of up to 5 people. You will need to find a mentor who can help guide your project proposal and implementation. A mentor can be anyone -- professor, community member or a fellow Cougar student. An ideal mentor is someone who has first-hand experience with or knowledge of the problem you hope to solve. Mentors should provide sound, relevant feedback to inform your proposal and pitch. Teams may have more than one mentor.  

To submit a proposal for the 2020 Changemaker Challenge, please complete your proposal form using this Google Form here. Your mentor will also need to complete a mentor commitment form

If you have questions or want to learn more, please contact Dr. Dave Hansen at

A successful proposal

Our panel of judges will assess proposals using the following criteria:

  • How well your team describes the problem
  • How well your solution fits the problem
  • The potential impact your solution will have*
  • Creativity of the solution*
  • Likelihood of being implemented by March 2020*
  • The longer term (3yr-5yr) impact of the project*

*A trade-off your team may emphasize or de-emphasize over another criteria. For example, your team may design a project that is very creative, but perhaps not readily implementable. 

Register for the Changemaker Challenge here!