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Organizations partner with Scripps Innovation Challenge to present real-world challenges, incentive prizes 

Sydney Otto | Mar 13, 2017

Organizations partner with Scripps Innovation Challenge to present real-world challenges, incentive prizes

By Sydney Otto

ATHENS, Ohio (March 13, 2017)—A half dozen news outlets and nonprofit groups have partnered with Ohio University’s Scripps Innovation Challenge this year by posing real-world media and communication problems to be solved by student competitors in the 5th annual contest.

The Diabetes Institute at Ohio University challenged students to come up with an innovative campaign that would help raise awareness of diabetes in Athens County and the surrounding Appalachian area. The winning team will be reimbursed up to $1,000 in travel expenses to attend a rural health-related conference.

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO), a nonprofit that fosters philanthropy in a 32-county area, asked students to create innovative ways to encourage charitable giving to the region from former residents who have moved away. The team with the best plan will be invited to present its idea to FAO’s board of trustees, staff and local community representatives.

“FAO partnered with the Scripps Innovation Challenge because we were excited by the potential that cross curricular partnerships could have on developing new ways and audiences to communicate FAO’s mission,” said Kelly Morman, FAO’s communications and programs coordinator.

Megan Wanczyk, FAO’s vice president of communications and programs added, “Students provide perspectives and ideas that we might not think about, which is especially important as we seek innovative ways to interact and connect with those who hold Appalachian Ohio closest to their hearts.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) proposed the challenge of creating innovative fundraising methods, and utilizing current social media platforms. As an incentive prize, NRDC will provide an all-expenses paid trip to its offices in New York City or Washington, D.C., for the student team with the best idea.

“There is nothing more important to NRDC’s mission than finding new and effective ways to engage the next generation of environmental stewards,” said Bob Deans, the NRDC’s director of strategic engagement. “The Scripps Innovation Challenge is a terrific way to tap into the emerging expertise and innovative spirit of that generation, so we can do a better job of lending voice to their passion for change.”

The Ohio Association of Broadcasters (OAB) challenge seeks an innovative strategy to communicate with college students to increase awareness of opportunities that reach beyond traditional over-the-air broadcasting. The student team with the best solution will be given the opportunity to present its idea to the OAB board of directors.

“Our challenge is focused on increasing awareness and interest by young professionals in career opportunities available at radio and television stations, so it seemed a natural fit to seek the participation of some of Ohio University’s most creative minds,” said Christine H. Merritt, OAB president. “The OAB board of directors has a strong interest in engaging the next generation of broadcasters, and is delighted for the opportunity to see the challenge presentation.”

Newsy, an E.W. Scripps Company subsidiary that offers video and analysis of the day’s top stories, challenged students to come up with an innovative way of marketing Newsy to millennials and building brand awareness. The student team with the best idea will get an all-expenses paid trip to next month’s 2017 Scripps Howard Awards Ceremony in Cincinnati, Ohio.

WCPO-TV is an ABC affiliate station owned by the E.W. Scripps Company. The station has asked student teams to develop a way to benefit users of their mobile app, WCPO Insider, by using geocoding technology. The team with the best solution will be invited to tour WCPO and present its idea to members of WCPO’s leadership team and innovation committee.

“Innovation is a major part of what we do at WCPO, but like all media organizations, resources can be a challenge,” said Mike Canan, WCPO editor. He said partnering with the Scripps Innovation Challenge offered “a perfect chance to try to get interesting, outside-the-box ideas.”

Students and faculty are invited to attend Pitch Day, part of the Scripps College of Communication’s Communication Week March 27-31, to watch the four finalist teams as they pitch their ideas to a panel of industry judges on Monday, March 27 at 3 p.m. in Ohio University’s Walter Hall Rotunda. Pitches will take place from 3-4 p.m. followed by a short presentation by Ryan Prestel, BSC '07, CEO of JadeTrack. Winners will be announced at 4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

About the Scripps Innovation Challenge
The Scripps Innovation Challenge is a university-wide competition at Ohio University, backed by the Scripps College of Communication and the Scripps Howard Foundation. It gives OHIO students a unique opportunity to create innovative solutions to real-world communication and media problems. Scripps Innovation Challenge is now in its fifth year.

For more information on the Scripps Innovation Challenge, please visit