March 29, 2024

WCU’s Social Innovation Competition Highlights Campus and Alumni Entrepreneurs

Social Innovation Competition FlyerMany of WCU’s students, staff, faculty, and alumni share a passion for social justice causes, which is celebrated in a variety of ways, one of which is Social Impact Day, Wednesday, April 3.

The day’s highlight is the University’s Social Innovation Competition, hosted by the WCU Cottrell Entrepreneurship Center, and a Q&A with entrepreneur Tess Hart, co-founder of Philadelphia’s Triple Bottom Brewery, who is one of the competition judges this year. The event takes place at 4:30 p.m. in Room 101 of WCU’s Business and Public Management Center (50 Sharpless Street, West Chester). It is free and open to the public.

Hart will expand on her company’s mission that emphasizes taking action in support of the community and the environment. Noted not only for its line of craft beers but also for its “beer, people, and planet” bottom line, Triple Bottom Brewery is powered by renewable energy and provides fair chance employment by partnering with local non-profits. Hart’s team actively seeks to hire people who may otherwise be excluded from the mainstream economy, including people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration.

The Triple Bottom Brewery Q&A will follow the short business idea pitches from this year’s four Social Innovation Competition finalists, who are vying for $5,000 in prizes.

Undergraduate finalists are Trevor Marshall, who is developing his idea for a sharing platform for young adult mental health guidance; and Michael Linebarger, who is developing his idea for responsible and sustainable junk removal.

In the category for graduate students, alumni, and faculty and staff, Erica Lucas is presenting her concept for mental health guidance for gifted children and their families; and Jake Drap ’22 is presenting Drip Drap, a sustainable fashion line of clothing.

“The West Chester University Social Innovation Competition is always surprising and inspiring,” notes Patricia Diggin M’96, Cottrell Center director and organizer of the competition. “It opens our eyes and challenges us to support our students in addressing problems that are important to them and to their peers.”

The Social Innovation Competition, open to all West Chester University undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, faculty, and staff, encourages participants from diverse disciplines to develop an entrepreneurial idea that addresses significant social or environmental problems. Ideas must be related to at least one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (view them here).

In addition to Hart, this year’s judges are Hetal Baman, podcaster of Global Health Pursuit; Margaret Bradley, VP of Strategic Initiatives at Ben Franklin Technology Partners; Kelly Cockshaw, director of Leadership & Innovation, United Way of Chester County; and Aaron Proietti, founder and author of Today’s Innovator.

The West Chester University Social Innovation Competition is hosted by the Cottrell Entrepreneurship Center, the Office of Sustainability, the Center for Civic Engagement & Social Impact, and PRME. The gold sponsor of the WCU Social Innovation Idea Competition is TD Bank.

Email the Cottrell Center team at


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