Liberal Arts Graduate Student Wins Student Track in N.H. Social Venture Innovation Challenge

Matt Wilhelm, Atlanta McIlwraithe, Eric Carlson, and Gary Hirshberg

Pictured (l to r) are Atlanta McIlwraithe and Eric Carlson from Timberland; Matt Wilhelm, a UNH master’s student in public administration; and Gary Hirshberg, co-founder and chairman of Stonyfield Farm. Photo by Perry Smith Photography.

The winners of the 2015 New Hampshire Social Venture Innovation Challenge at UNH were recently announced. Matt Wilhelm, a UNH master’s student in the public administration program of the political science department, won in the student track for his idea to create Old Sol Music Hall, a not-for-profit concert venue and community center in downtown Manchester committed to building social capital for young professionals. He received $5,000.

The second place team in the student track was Connected C&D. The team won $3,000 for their idea to divert all ABC waste from landfills in the Greater Portsmouth area by establishing and maintaining connections with construction, demolition and recycling agencies. The team of four included Kendall Sebastian, a senior in Spanish and business administration.

The third place award in the Challenge’s community track went to a team that included a liberal arts alumna. The project, UNH Solar Power for Schools, plans to bring solar power to hundreds of students who currently lack access to electricity. The five-member team received $2,500 and included Tegan O’Neill of Dover, a 2014 UNH alumna and current graduate student in political science.

The winning teams were among 16 finalists who were judged by a dozen leading social venture founders, leaders and investors from New Hampshire and beyond.

The N.H. Social Venture Innovation Challenge engages aspiring and practicing student and community social entrepreneurs in designing novel, sustainable, business-orientated solutions to some of society’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. The challenge is an idea-stage competition with the goal of inspiring innovative, solution-orientated thinking and providing a forum to shine a light on these ideas.

Source: UNH Media Relations

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