Winning team of the Public Policy Challenge: Erich Denk, Samantha Night, Kevin Washam, and Tina Meins

The winning team of McCourt School students competing in the Georgetown Public Policy Challenge created a plan to increase flu vaccination awareness and accessibility for low income people in Washington D.C.

The Baker Center for Leadership & Governance sponsored the 4th annual Georgetown Public Policy Challenge at the McCourt School.

Team members Anna Heard, Erich Denk, Kevin Washam, Samantha Night and Tina Meins presented CapVax to a panel of judges on Friday, Feb. 23. They envisioned a mobile vaccination clinic that could supply free flu vaccinations to the most vulnerable neighborhoods in Washington D.C., and went on to win this year’s first-place award of $2,500.

The other top proposals focused on financial literacy in DC schools and increasing HIV awareness through dating apps.

Victoria Canavor, Director of the Baker Center, served as a judge in the second and final round of competition, along with McCourt School Interim Dean Michael Bailey, Associate Dean Barbara Schone, and Director Margaret O’Bryon of the Policy Innovation Lab.

Modeled after MBA business plan competitions, the Public Policy Challenge provides student teams an opportunity to develop a policy proposal and civic campaign plans to achieve significant change in their communities.

Associate Director of Student Affairs Jaclyn Clevenger developed the challenge at Georgetown, modeling it after the policy challenge at the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I saw the value of challenging graduate students to learn more about the communities in which they live and to develop innovative ideas designed to create positive change in those communities, and brought it to the Georgetown campus,” she explained.

Previous winning teams include AppSent, Peace Cluster, and Leveraging Libraries. Each has gone on to do additional work in implementing their idea in Washington DC, and have partnered with local government agencies, nonprofits and programs within Georgetown University.

This year’s second and third place finalists:

1st Runners Up: “The HIV Epidemic and Potential Role of Smartphone Dating Applications”: Albara Elshaer, Ifrah Fatah, Marco Martinez, Joseph Lopez.

2nd Runners Up: “Improvements in Financial Literacy in DC High Schools”: Stephen Botsford, Jenny Grimberg, Yelena Maleyev.