The Catherine B. Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship at New York University, together with the nonprofit organization Youth Venture, has awarded the grand prize in the first annual NYU “Be A Changemaker” Challenge to a team of three undergraduates.

The winning team came up with an innovative project to help New York City immigrants increase their involvement in their children’s education by raising their awareness of their rights to translation and interpretation services. The three students — Ashley Furan, 21, Elizabeth Smith, 20, and Joseph Taranto, 19 — were chosen from among one hundred NYU undergraduates comprising thirty-two teams that received $1,000 each for devising projects with social value that can bring about positive and lasting change.

“This is a great example of NYU’s commitment to being a private university in the public service, and the role that the NYU Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship plays in that effort,” said the NYU Reynolds Program’s director, Gabriel Brodbar.

The winning team received a $10,000 grant for their project, Promoting Immigrant Voices in Education, or PIVE. They will also receive a $500 Staples Gift certificate and special training and consulting opportunities, in addition to the $1,000 grant they already received from Youth Venture as seed funding to launch their team.

Through collaboration with individual public schools, PIVE will hold educational workshops, English as a Second Language/Parent Leadership classes and family events to promote the engagement of immigrant parents in the school community, especially through existing but often under-utilized language services.

“We strongly believe that the involvement of parents directly correlates with improved educational outcomes.” said Ashley Furan. “This award will allow us to strengthen the PIVE program and ensure that it is sustainable. We are very grateful for what it will allow us to do in the immigrant community. ”

The winning team will also receive special consulting opportunities with experienced entrepreneurs and participation in the New Venture Program at the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurial Studies and the Stern Incubator Entrepreneurial Boot Camp and lunch series at the Stern School of Business, and access to special resources and opportunities through the NYU Reynolds Program in Social Entrepreneurship. The Reynolds Program is run by the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Social Service at NYU, and the NYU Office of the Provost.

A panel of experienced social entrepreneurs selected the winning “Be a Changemaker” Challenge team. It was among the 32 teams chosen for seed money after submitting Action Plans and presenting their ideas before panels composed of New York community members from the business and social sectors.

The Grand Prize Judges included Charles Best, CEO and Founder of DonorsChoose; Betsy Krebs, Co-founder and Executive Director of the Youth Advocacy Network; John Muller, Co-founder and Executive Director of DreamCity Theater Group, a Youth Venture he launched while in university in Washington D.C.; Jeffrey Robinson, Assistant Professor of Management at the NYU Stern School of Business; and Max Schorr, Publisher and Founding Editor of GOOD Magazine.

“We are thrilled at the success of the winning team, PIVE, and of all 32 Youth Venture teams that launched through our “Be A Changemaker Challenge with NYU.” said Gretchen Zucker, executive director of Youth Venture. “It is clear that NYU is the leading university in weaving social entrepreneurship and youth leadership in the very fabric of the university, and we are delighted to collaborate.”

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