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Q&A with Jia Li, a ThinkCERCA Social Impact Challenge Winner


Jia Li is a Grade 11 Social Impact Challenge Winner from the Southwest Career and Technical Academy in Las Vegas, Nevada. He collaborated on his challenge entry with a peer group at school. Here, we chat with Jia about the challenge and his winning project.

What were your thoughts about the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge when you first heard about it?

I thought the Social Entrepreneurship Challenge was a really good chance for teenagers to explore the problems in the world today and give solutions to help their community.

How did you decide on what problem to solve? Do you have a personal connection to it? Had you been learning about it in class? Or some other way?

As a group of juniors in high school my group and I felt that college was the next big step in our life, but many students are handicap financially. For example, I would love to attend a prestigious school out of state to somewhere, but I am most likely going to UNLV so I don't have to take out student loans.

How did you come up with your solution? Did you brainstorm a lot of ideas, or did one great idea come to you suddenly?

At first our group didn't know which problem we wanted to solve so we brainstormed some stuff. Then, thinking of the cap you wear from graduation and what people will buy today we came up with a hat that most people can afford and will wear.

What were some of the biggest challenges you found as you worked on your idea? How did you overcome them?

One big challenges during this project were technical. We couldn't find a computer at school for the first 30 minutes of our day — most school doors were still locked. Then when we did we were almost finished, but couldn't export the presentation as a mp4. So I had to upload all the images and audio to Google Drive and edit it all again at home. But after finishing editing all of it again I found that the audio and timing were off so I had to redo the editing, cut some of the audio out, and redo some of the recording. Finally I finished and uploaded the video.

What was the best or most rewarding part about this project?

The most rewarding or best part about this project is being able to contribute to the community and being a winner in ThinkCERCA's 2014 SocEnt Challenge as it felt like we can achieve what we want if we put enough effort into it.

What are your plans for the future? Will you continue to work on your idea or on other social enterprise ideas?

We don't know about future plans yet. We might continue brainstorming new ideas. 

Elizabeth Riley Boyer

Elizabeth Riley Boyer

Elizabeth Riley Boyer is an experienced journalist, digital content strategist, and operations manager. Prior to joining ThinkCERCA, she was part of the founding team at Impact Engine, Chicago’s first social impact investment fund and accelerator. As Impact Engine’s Director of Operations & Communications, Elizabeth oversaw the company’s overall processes, day-to-day planning and finances, curriculum development, marketing strategy, and community outreach.

Elizabeth also spent three years at Chicago magazine, most recently as its Digital Engagement Editor, where she managed the organization’s social media and reader engagement initiatives. Elizabeth also works as a freelance content strategist, writer, and communications consultant. Her recent writings on impact entrepreneurship have been featured by the Huffington Post and Crain’s Chicago Business.

In 2007, Elizabeth helped open a private school for underprivileged children while volunteering for a nonprofit organization in the Dominican Republic. This experience inspired her to quit a paper-pushing job at an insurance brokerage firm to pursue a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. Elizabeth also holds a bachelor’s degree in American studies from the University of Texas at Austin.

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