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Congrats to Intern Pitch Competition Winners

We hope you had a chance to join us virtually for the Innovation Lab’s intern pitch competition! To recap, eight teams of high school and college students pitched their best ideas for addressing the COVID-19 crisis in our community in front of these high-profile judges:

  • Heidi Gardner, KC-based actress and comedian
  • Sandy Kemper, Founder and CEO of C2FO
  • Wendy Guilles, President and CEO of the Kauffman Foundation
  • Kemet Coleman, Artist and CEO of Kemet Creative
  • And our own CEO of CommunityAmerica, Lisa Ginter

Below are summaries of the bright ideas pitched by each team, as well as the winners in each category.


  1. Safe Swap: Creating a safe way for Kansas Citians to donate needed community items in drop boxes.
  2. Spark: A student-led intern consultation team helping local businesses start or maintain a virtual intern program.
  3. Adopt-A-Grandparent: Connecting isolated retirement home residents with safe ‘friend volunteers’ through monitored letter and other correspondence. Runner Up in the college category- $1,000 prize
  4. Connection Bear: A customizable teddy bear that can be sent to loved ones with audio messages that record in real-time through an app. First Place winner in the college category- $5,000 prize

College 1st place - Connection Bear:

  • Chloe Chaffin, Olathe Northwest 
  • Sophy Silva, University of Missouri – Columbia 
  • Victoria Haggerty, University of Missouri – Columbia 
  • Vince Lewis, Park Hill High School
  • Jordan Howard, Morehouse College
  • Valeria Osorio Nava, Shawnee Mission North High School 

College runner-up – Adopt-a-Grandparent:

  • Julia Boepple, Blue Valley Northwest High School
  • Madison Garner, Lee’s Summit High School
  • Maeve Hogan, Columbia College
  • Makayla Wathen, Metropolitan Community College
  • Monica Marni, Blue Valley High School 
  • Tyree Bayan, Grandview High School 


  1. HexaChat: A safe mental health forum for youth seeking counsel from volunteer, qualified professionals. First Place winner in the high school category- $5,000 prize; Fan Favorite winner by participant vote- $1,000 prize
  2. Bridge: A digitized matching system connecting isolated retirement home residents to trained teen volunteers in attempts to combat loneliness.
  3. EduHome KC: A sanitary library book delivery system aiming to close the education gap during COVID-19.
  4. Fit Nest: A mobile app that allows high school athletic teams to continue connecting and training through team fitness competitions. Runner Up in the high school category- $1,000  

High School 1st place AND Fan Favorite – Hexachat:

  • Addison Funk, The Pembroke Hill School 
  • Ashley Gass, North Kansas City High School 
  • Gustavo Bateman Jr., Truman High School 
  • Haylee Allison, Blue Springs High School 
  • Joy Yan, Blue Valley North High School 
  • Kristopher Thompson, Cristo Rey Kansas City 
  • Yutong Yi, Shawnee Mission East High School  

High School runner-up – FitNest:

  • Ariel Iseman, Blue Valley North High School
  • Andrew Letsch, Liberty High School
  • Haley Mcatee, Staley High School
  • Kennedy Kaufman, Shawnee Mission East High School
  • Kerin Rosales, Turner High School
  • Lola Morales, North Kansas City High School
  • Sophie Gromowsky, Notre Dame de Sion High School
  • Reid Venable, Shawnee Mission South High School
In total, $26,000 was award to the 8 teams, thanks to CommunityAmerica Credit Union and the Kauffman Foundation. Congrats to all who participated and joined the competition viewing!


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