Competitions like this show us the next generation of emerging entrepreneurs is eager to tackle tough challenges and work together to change the world.


NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), a global nonprofit focused on activating the entrepreneurial mindset and building startup skills in youth, has announced the winners in its latest World Series of Innovation competition.

The World Series of Innovation is a global, online competition that challenges small teams of young people, ages 13–24, to imagine creative solutions for meeting the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These global goals address some of the most serious issues facing the world today, including poverty, equality, and environmental degradation. Students competing in the World Series of Innovation are asked to think big and develop innovative ideas to solve seemingly intractable problems—such as stopping the flow of plastic waste into the marine environment or increasing access to affordable, reliable energy.

Spring 2019 challenge sponsors included Citi Foundation, Con Edison, The Coca-Cola Company, and NFTE. The challenges sponsors posed were:

  • Citi Foundation Decent Work Challenge: Design an initiative, innovation or invention that promotes opportunity to develop or upskill workforce skills and leads to decent work and safe working environments. This aligns with Sustainable Development Goal #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.
  • Coca-Cola/VEB Responsible Consumption Challenge: Develop innovative concepts to recycle and repurpose disposed plastic bottles. This aligns with SDG #12, Responsible consumption and production.
  • Con-Edison Sustainable Development Challenge: Design an initiative approach or invention promoting sustainable energy in a smart city. This aligns with SDG #7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
  • NFTE Gender Equality Challenge: Design an initiative or innovation that encourages and helps women to start or grow their own small businesses. This aligns with SDG #5, Gender Equality.

Thousands of young people from around the world participated. Their entries were scored by judges, then three teams were named as finalists in each challenge category and their ideas were voted on by the public. Winners in each challenge category were determined based on combined scores tabulated from public voting and expert judging.

Judges were drawn from the organizations sponsoring challenges as well as a broader pool of business leaders and entrepreneurs who volunteered to score competition entries. Each winning team received a $1,500 cash prize, plus $500 for their school or nonprofit organization. Runner-up teams each received a prize of $300.

The winners:

  • Citi Foundation Decent Work Challenge Winner: a team from Santa Teresa High School in San Jose, CA, developed the idea for Teknique, a three-tiered training program that specializes in helping companies reskill their workers and partnering with AI companies to improve their robots with a skilled human workforce to teach them.
  • Coca-Cola/VEB Responsible Consumption Challenge Winner: a team from the Yorba Linda High School in Yorba Linda, CA, developed the idea for Straw Slap, a reusable, flexible stainless steel straw that acts as a slap bracelet and comes with a fabric cover that protects the straw from outside elements. An alternative to plastic straws, it is a fun and accessible way to help reduce the amount of plastic put in the ocean
  • Con-Edison Sustainable Development Challenge Winner: a team from Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School in Pembroke Pines, FL, developed the idea for CO2morrow, an innovative, eco-friendly company that combines the technology of clean energy delivery with the placement of CO2 energy converting stations throughout a city and provides a recycling program to procure the precious metals needed to fuel the conversion process in providing clean energy.
  • NFTE Gender Equality Challenge Winner: a team from Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, CO, developed the idea for PowHer, a South African transportation business that trains and employs women drivers for women passengers, creating work for women and a safe and efficient transportation environment for women.

“The creativity demonstrated by the young people who participate in our World Series of Innovation is always so amazing. We design challenges that require some pretty big thinking, but these young innovators always deliver,” says Shawn Osborne, President and CEO of NFTE. “Competitions like this show us the next generation of emerging entrepreneurs is eager to tackle tough challenges and work together to change the world.”

NFTE will be launching an all-new, expanded set of World Series of Innovation challenges in September 2019. Learn more about the competition and past winners at

About NFTE
NFTE is the leading educational nonprofit focused on teaching startup skills and activating the entrepreneurial mindset in young people from under-resourced communities. Research shows the entrepreneurial mindset—skills including problem-solving, adaptability, initiative, and self-reliance—leads to lifelong success. Equipped with the business and academic skills NFTE teaches and empowered by the entrepreneurial mindset, NFTE alumni are prepared to thrive. NFTE works with schools and community partners across the country through its nationwide network of program offices. Alliances with global youth development organizations bring NFTE programs to additional students internationally. NFTE reaches more than 100,000 young people annually and has served well over a million students since its founding. Learn more at

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