WAYNE COUNTY - Earlham College is partnering with Forward Wayne County to award $40,000 in startup capital this fall. The EPIC Grand Challenge, which launches today, challenges participating students to develop social ventures that can help to address gaps in the county’s workforce, reverse downward trends in population and homeownership, or increase property values by 2025.

Teams will compete in an elevator pitch round, where they will give an initial two-minute presentation about their idea. From there, they will advance to a cameo round, where teams will unveil their business model and a final round consisting of a 20-minute presentation of their comprehensive project plan.

“The EPIC Grand Challenge leverages the very best of Earlham’s curriculum, combined with support for new education and mentorship that will allow for transformative ideas or existing projects to become viable social ventures,” says Gene Hambrick, director of Earlham’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. “The Earlham community has a history of making meaningful change in communities all over the world. This major initiative promotes a greater focus on bringing innovation to our own backyard.”

A $10,000 grand prize will be awarded during spring semester 2020. Smaller prizes will be awarded to other finalists.