JU presents inaugural round of Climate Innovation Challenge funding

October 27, 2023

Think Shark Tank, but instead of pitching business ideas to sharks, contestants pitch climate solutions to Dolphins (and the judges are much kinder).
On Tuesday, Oct. 24, at Davis College of Business and Technology, students and community members presented proposals to tackle or raise awareness about climate change for a chance at funding during Jacksonville University’s (JU) Climate Innovation Challenge. The competition was organized by JU's College of Arts and Sciences, Marine Science Research Institute, College of Law, and Public Policy Institute.
CIC judges

After each finalist delivered their proposals, a panel of judges asked insightful questions to learn more about their ideas. Once presentations were finished, the judges deliberated before making their announcement. Ultimately, they chose to fund three proposals. “Climate Crisis: Poetry Contest for Duval County” received $10,000; “Tree Equity Vision and Growing Justice Academy” was awarded $7,500; and “Food Fight,” $2,500. 

The panel of judges included Chris Sapienza, JU’s Executive Vice President of Partnerships and Development; Mike Buresh, Chief Meteorologist at Action New Jax; Anne Coglianese, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Jacksonville; Megan Atkinson, Vice President of Sustainability at Crowley; and Michael Dae, Director of Regulatory Permitting and Compliance Programs at JEA.

Finalists were selected from a larger pool of submissions to present their proposals. More on the winners’ plans is below:
Clifford Miller
“Food Fight”
“Food Fight” is a competition that encourages Jacksonville residents to grow food in their yard, promoting a healthier community and reducing the
impact of pollutants produced through large-scale agricultural practices. Participating residents would follow organic protocols of no fertilizer or pesticides, teaching them about healthy soil and the importance of pollinator insects.
GreenLiningJax- Ashante Green, Ivy Henderson, Dante Jennings
“Tree Equity Vision and Growing Justice Academy”
GreenLiningJax proposed a two-pronged plan in high priority communities in Jacksonville with “Tree Equity Vision” consisting of a tree canopy project and the “Growing Justice Academy” which is a leadership program focused on providing training to BIPOC leaders and others who are committed to addressing climate issues in these areas.
Andy Bruck
“Climate Crisis: Poetry Contest for Duval County”
In an effort to engage youth in their documented concerns about climate change, this project involves hosting a poetry contest designed for Duval County Public Schools high school students. Students would be able to submit traditional poetry or spoken word with a climate change focus. The traditional poetry grand prize winner would have their lyrics set to music by a professional composer, and the winning spoken word piece will be shared at a live event.
 CIC finalist and committee with check
The Climate Innovation Challenge is the culmination of over a year’s worth of preparation, including raising private funds, seeking and screening
proposals and choosing finalists, and organizing the public event competition which enabled people to vote and contribute to the future of the competition.
“We’re excited to see these projects move forward and the positive impacts they will have in combating climate change,” shared Dr. Bryan Franks, Interim Director of the Marine Science Research Institute.
Added Nick Allard, Dean of JU College of Law, “Given the success we elect this will be an ongoing annual project. Over time the competition will inspire and involve many First Coast people whose individual efforts and projects, when combined, will make measurable progress in sustaining and improving the environment we share.”
To learn more about the Climate Innovation Challenge, click here.

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