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The Clinton Global Initiative will provide the winning team of the Hult Prize Global Finals with $1 million of seed money.

Credit: Justin Cohen

While Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton may be on most people’s minds because of the election, some Penn students are thinking about the Clintons in a different context as they prepare to apply for the Hult Prize, an organization partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative.

With $1 million of seed funding at stake, the Hult Prize competition draws thousands of student hopefuls each year. Penn students have special access to the competition through Hult Prize@Penn, which brings the first round of the competition directly to campus.

Every year at the end of September, President Bill Clinton announces the theme for the Hult Prize competition, which highlights a global issue that he finds particularly relevant at the time. This year’s theme, “Refugees — Reawakening of Human Potential,” is designed to address the displacement of what the Hult Prize Foundation estimates to be one billion global refugees.

Once the theme is announced, students at universities around the world scramble to put together a business plan that will impress judges at the local rounds of the competition. While thousands enter the general local round, students entering through Hult Prize@Penn compete against a smaller pool made up exclusively of Penn students.

“It’s a great opportunity for students at Penn, given that so many students are interested in social entrepreneurship,” said College junior Tiffany Yau, a former Daily Pennsylvanian staff reporter and this year’s Hult Prize@Penn campus director.

The board of Hult Prize@Penn is currently working to encourage teams of students to enter the 2016 competition. Teams, consisting of three to four members, can be composed of undergraduate and graduate students from any of the Penn’s schools. Registration for Hult Prize@Penn’s competition is due on Nov. 11.

The winning team from Penn will move on to the regional round, where they will compete against the winners of other local competitions. The six winning teams from regionals enter the Hult Prize Accelerator, a boot camp-style program where they receive mentoring and network with other teams at the Hult International Business School. Finally, the six teams enter the Hult Prize Global Finals, where they pitch their ideas to President Bill Clinton and other industry-leading judges at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting. The winning team will then be provided with $1 million of seed funding and continued mentorship and support from the foundation.

Many of the social entrepreneurship plans conceived as part of the Hult Prize competition are still in action today, even if they didn’t win the competition.

“Just by going through the Hult Prize process, you’re able to gain an invaluable network,” Yau said.

Teams that have progressed to the Regional or Final rounds often use this network to continue their work, even if they don’t win the prize. A team of Penn students that was the runner-up in the 2014 competition is still working on their project, Sweet Bites, which aims to improve the dental health of impoverished people in India’s slums.

“We go to a great institution,” College senior and co-director of Hult Prize@Penn Isabella Rahm said. “This is a way for us to give back.”

Correction: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that the Hult Prize is an independent organization in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative. The DP regrets the error.

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