ChangeFest; Thrive; social change; activism; event planning; student organization
Upon getting involved with, and eventually becoming the President of, the student organization, Thrive, I felt a spark of innovation within me. Thrive is an entrepreneurial organization centered around helping students create socially impactful projects. While each member initially worked on their own individual projects, we capitalized on the connections and resources we had mutually to create something bigger than ourselves as a group. That is where the idea for ChangeFest came about. ChangeFest is a day-long event where students have the power to make substantial change on their campuses. Many college students lack the intrinsic motivation to push themselves beyond the constraints that outside influences, such as family or society as a whole, set for them. This event works to challenge students and help them discover their fullest potential, which they may not have tapped into otherwise. The way it works is students pick one of eight topics that focus on campus issues, and are placed on a team of three to five students that also feel strongly about the same issue. Teams are comprised of students from various universities all throughout the state of Rhode Island. They work the whole day to create an innovative solution to the issue. The day concludes with a pitch contest, where teams pitch the concept that they have developed, and compete for funding to turn their idea into a reality. Following closing keynote speakers, an audience voting process determines the top three pitches.
Since its development in 2016, ChangeFest has been held both at Brown University and the University of Rhode Island. Featuring keynote speakers such as URI’s President Dooley, RI Congressman Ciccilline, and founding partner of Etsy, Matt Stinchcomb, ChangeFest has started gaining recognition all throughout the state. Some examples of past winning projects are an app to help disabled students and faculty find the best routes to get around campus, and a smart recycling system that incentives students to recycle and reduce their use of plastic. My intentions for co-founding this event were to gain a unique set of leadership skills in event planning and entrepreneurship, areas that I had never explored. I have a strong desire to serve as a change agent in my community, and ChangeFest was my first major project in doing so. Being a part of such an incredible organization and watching teams of students create tangible change in just a few hours, has proven to me that each and every person truly has the ability to change something they feel needs improving with just a few resources and a lot of passion. The future of this event looks very bright; with new leadership taking over, ChangeFest is sure to foreground influential projects and continue to encourage making positive change.