Maximum Impact

RED Labs Hosts Impact Competition to Bolster Local Nonprofit

This spring, the University of Houston’s startup accelerator RED Labs focused on community, hosting the Impact Competition, which tasked student participants with developing a business plan to solve a local nonprofit's business challenges, using only a $10,000 budget.

RED Labs, housed within the C. T. Bauer College of Business, partnered with Workshop Houston, a local nonprofit located in the Third Ward that operates as a free creative arts afterschool program teaching kids in different arts subjects such as media, music, dance and design.

“When you have students from the University of Houston come in here, you see an extension of what your community is,” Workshop Houston Program Director O’Shea Woodhouse said. “Students from Bauer and UH now have a hand in a community they may have never crossed without this competition. Our kids here now have a relationship with these students and can see what is possible for their future.”

The brother-sister duo of Jerzy and Xiomara Carranza placed first in the competition with their “Driving Creativity, Shaping Futures” business plan to improve each creative arts workshop, revamping the organizations visual brand identity with the creation of a new website and partnering with the Valenti Integrated program at UH’s Jack J. Valenti School of Communication for media coverage throughout the whole project. Along with the $10,000 in funding, the team was awarded $6,000 in prize money for earning first place.

“Winning the competition is very exciting,” Jerzy Carranza said. “We will continue helping Workshop Houston with the implementation of our plan to the highest degree. My sister will be hands-on helping the organization with the injection of funds for the studios while I will be the creative director and in charge of the web design. We both could not be more excited about this opportunity.”

The competition was founded by noted trader Lance Breitstein, who aimed to bring about compound positive change to local communities by empowering students to address the most pressing social issues in their community. The quality of students and connection with the community played a large influence for Breitstein in choosing his partnership with RED Labs and Bauer, bringing the Impact Competition to Houston.

“For our organization, we are always looking for universities that are on the cutting edge of programing and share the same values as our organization,” he said. “When these experiences are so real and experiential like this, you can see how the students truly care about these issues and they care about the youth that is benefited by these competitions.”

The duo of Zheren Baizhikova and Abiatou Samira Sidibe were also chosen as a separate winning team and deemed the “Safety Team” for their hygienic and facility improvement business plan. They will work alongside Breitstein to fulfill their business plan. Other business plans showcased at the competition included ideas for better grant funding resources and other aesthetic improvements to the facilities.

“The kids in this area can come here, feel safe and no longer have to be outside,” Woodhouse said. “It is hard to describe how impactful an opportunity like this is to address a problem and actually have the money and support to do it. Thanks to UH and Bauer, people are going to see an immediate impact that you would not see with a larger organization.”

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