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Olin College Team Earns Second Place Award at National Ford C3 Competition

At the Ford College Community Challenge (C3) celebrating its 10-year anniversary the Olin College team earned a second place award and $20,000 for a hands-on, project-based exploration of arts, technology, and entrepreneurship, accessible to rural youth in Coahoma County, Mississippi.

The Coahoma Mobile Education project will support mentors working with youth in the community to build musical instruments and engage in digital arts—exploring carpentry and 3D-modeling skills  among other things in a mobile space. The mobile unit will host weekly workshops to build a portfolio of appropriate activities. The project connects with the rich musical culture and large potential market for guitars in the Mississippi Delta region, the home of a distinctive style of blues music and host to three annual international music festivals.

The project is a partnership with Babson College and Wellesley College and grew out of the course Affordable Design and Entrepreneurship (ADE). The funds will support a pilot program in Coahoma County with after-school programs, enabling the collaborators to test the model and work out the logistics of operating the mobile educational unit.

This is the second round of competition for the Ford College Community Challenge. This past spring, the ADE team won $25,000 in the initial challenge. The final presentation took place at Ford World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan in front of a panel of Ford executives and other invited guests.

The team presenting in this latest national competition included Anisha Nakagawa, Aaron Greiner and Michael Costello. In addition Olin College students Annabel Consilvio, Jayce Chow, Nora Mohamed and Babson College students Anne McCormack and Max Mendelsohn all contributed to the written proposal and were indispensable in shaping the final presentation.

"We are grateful to receive additional funds from the Ford Fund for our work with our partners in Coahoma County on community development. It will allow us to run a pilot of our program in the new year," said Aaron Greiner, a senior at Olin College. "It was a great experience to be able to present the work our team has been doing to an external audience, and gave us skills that are applicable to many other areas. Being able to work with mentors from Ford really helped to shape our presentation and prepared us well." 

Faculty advisors include Assistant Professor of Computing and Innovation Amon Millner and Visiting Designer Kofi Taha.

“We are delighted to see continued recognition for this joint effort with our partners in Mississippi,” said Ben Linder Director and Co-Founder of ADE. “This grant will allow us to pilot new experiences with youth in Coahoma County integrating technology, arts and entrepreneurship that celebrate the rich musical heritage of the Delta.” 

ADE’s project teams are made up of Olin, Babson and Wellesley students who work collaboratively with partners in low-income communities, both domestic and international, to learn about local challenges and find sustainable solutions that increase income, opportunity or quality of life. As new students join the class, they continue the work of student teams from the previous semester, staff the ongoing projects, many of which span several years. Ultimately, the projects are designed to completely exit the ADE project pipeline for local partners to own, operate and develop according to community needs.