STEMUp Youth Maker Prize

Do you have a great idea to solve a problem in your community? Through STEMUp Youth Maker Prize, a live competition, we award small grants to help middle and high school aged youth who are involved in STEM programming test innovative ideas that can solve problems in their communities. Prizes will be awarded on November 19, 2019, and winning projects will be implemented between January – April 2020.
To enter the competition, submit a video here.

Continue reading below to learn more about the United Way of Greater Atlanta prize criteria and frequently asked questions.

What kind of problem do you want solved?
Youth know about challenges in their communities and our region and probably already have ideas on how to solve some of them. Though United Way isn’t defining what problem youth are focused on addressing, it is important to remember that proposed projects must be youth-led, STEM-related and have a way to measure impact.

Additional areas of priority for United Way include improving engagement in STEM by under-represented groups, social innovation, and partnerships with STEM-related businesses.

What is the application process?
The Prize is targeted to middle and high school aged students and the agencies that serve them (i.e. schools, community based non-profit organizations) through STEM programming. Interested groups of students/youth are asked to submit a 2-4 minute video presentation explaining the problem they are attempting to solve, their solution, and the partners who they will work with for implementation. These video presentations do not need to be professionally produced. Cell phone videos or handheld camcorders are preferred. The important thing is that the content of the video is compelling and incorporates the selection criteria listed in the next section of this document.
Ten finalists will be invited to Round 2 where they will be required to submit a 2-page written proposal + budget and prepare a short presentation for the live finale event.

How do I apply?
Interested applicants are asked to submit a 2-4 minute video presentation explaining their idea, the problem they are attempting to solve, and their innovative solution. Videos do not have to be professionally recorded–cell phone/digital camera videos are highly encouraged. Videos are to be submitted via the video submission website. Applicants that are selected to go on to the next stage will be required to submit a two-page proposal with a budget and, if interested, will be offered coaching support to improve their presentation and implementation plan. Apply now.

How do we ask more questions?
United Way will be hosting an informational webinar on September 5, 2019 at 3:00 p.m.. The webinar will be recorded for any interested groups who cannot attend. The recording will be added to this page.

What is the deadline for submission?
The deadline for video submission is Friday, October 4, 2019 at 5:00 p.m. Finalists selected to move forward will be notified by October 21, 2019.

How many awards will be made?
The number of awards will be based on the dollars available and judges’ decisions. All ideas that are presented at the finale event will be eligible for funding.

How much are the awards?
These are small awards to support students in implementing their winning idea. Awards will range between $250.00 and $5,000.00, depending on the request, the scores/merit of the idea, and the complexity of the solution.

Who is eligible?
Middle and high school-aged youth within United Way’s 13 county area (Butts, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, Dekalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding and Rockdale Counties) who are involved in STEM programming.

Youth applicants must have a “staff champion” from their school or non-profit agency that will be a primary point of contact for United Way. That staff person must be an employee of the agency who is positioned to approve and support implementation of the proposed idea.
Applicants must have affiliation with a non-profit organization or school that will serve as their fiscal agent.

Is this funding renewable?
This funding supports a 4-month project (January – April 2020). There is currently no commitment being made for additional funding. The winners will receive coaching post-award.

How will award winners be selected?
This award is designed to empower youth to use their voices and leadership to improve their community. All videos will be reviewed by a panel of community leaders that include entrepreneurs, business partners, nonprofit service leaders, issue experts and others who will be scoring ideas on the following 5 criteria:

  • Solution Oriented – clearly defined need with goals that directly address a particular community/social problem, removes barriers, or increases efficiencies.
    • What problem are you trying to solve?
    • How will you use the money to try to solve it? Be specific.
    • Why do you think this will work?
    • Describe any challenges you anticipate and possible solutions to those challenges.
    • What research did you do to come up with this idea?
  • Realistic – feasibility of the implementation plan (clear goals and objectives, achievable scope of work and timeline, sufficient resources)
    • Can this be done in 3 months? If not, what parts can be done in the first 3 months and how will the project continue?
    • What are you trying to achieve?
    • How will you know if you are successful?
  • Youth Leadership and Collaboration – clear evidence that the project is youth-led and utilizes partnerships to address the stated problem.
    • Who will do what? What will team members be responsible for doing?
    • Describe any partners you will be working with – like teachers, companies, etc.
    • Are there any other resources you will be using to implement the project such as money and supplies?
  • Creativity/Innovation – ability to demonstrate creativity, new or unconventional thinking
    • How is your idea unique?
  • Social Responsibility – the project shows a priority placed on diversity, equity and inclusion.
    • “Social responsibility” means that people (like your team) have a duty to act in the best interest of their environment and society, not just themselves.
    • Equity is giving everyone what they need to be successful. This requires understanding the challenges that some individuals or groups of people face and helping to reduce those barriers.
    • These things are very important because, as an example, we know that girls and people of color are much less likely to work in STEM careers, and it isn’t because they are less interested or less skilled.

Finalists will be selected from the larger pool of applicants and will be required to submit a two-page proposal and budget. The final winners will be selected by a panel of judges at a live event on November 19, 2019 using the above set of criteria.

Why is United Way offering this now?
United Way of Greater Atlanta is committed to solving complex community problems and building a community of leaders who are continuously looking for innovative and creative solutions. We believe that young people’s leadership and voice are critical to addressing the social and economic issues facing our communities. It is our goal to ensure both the process and results of the Prize will showcase young people’s ingenuity and resourcefulness.

Can the prize be used for planning or research?
The STEMUp Youth Maker Prize is designed to support young people’s ideas to solve problems in our region. The proposal should be backed by research, implementable between January – April 2020, and be able to measure impact.

How do I know if I have a truly innovative idea?
Our best advice is to test your idea with a wide variety of people and practice making your “pitch.” This will help to renew your idea and allow you to master your presentation.