Seven teams named semi-finalists for NRF Foundation’s 2019 student challenge

“We look forward to seeing this year’s finalists thrive as they use this experience combined with their incredible creativity and educational backgrounds to make a difference in the retail industry upon graduation.”

Ellen Davis
NRF Foundation President

WASHINGTON – The NRF Foundation today announced seven teams as semi-finalists for its 2019 Student Challenge, a business case competition for NRF Student Association members to demonstrate their creativity and business acumen to retail executives. The finalists will attend the NRF Foundation Gala in New York City, where the top team will be announced on January 13.

“The purpose of the Student Challenge is to bring classroom learnings into a real-life business scenario, and this year’s concept delivered on that mission,” NRF Foundation President Ellen Davis said. “We look forward to seeing this year’s finalists thrive as they use this experience combined with their incredible creativity and educational backgrounds to make a difference in the retail industry upon graduation.”

The Foundation has partnered with New York City retailer STORY and scholarship sponsor KPMG for the sixth year of the competition.

Each team, composed of two to four students, was required to select one of three companies – The Home Depot, IBM, or Kroger – and then develop a 30-page written pitch and a 90-second pitch video to convince STORY CEO and founder Rachel Shechtman on why and how their proposal should come to life. Each proposal was created to provide an experience for the customer through selected merchandise, marketing approach, ecommerce, social media campaigns and carefully selected events.

Executives from more than 20 retail companies will participate in two rounds of judging. Judges will have access to each team’s pitch presentation and video and will score them against the determined criteria. In the second round, judges will take part in a teleconference with teams and ask questions about the pitch presentation and select the top three teams. In the final round, the final three teams will make a live presentation to a panel of retail executives in New York City.

The top team will receive $5,000 for each participating student. The second-place team will receive $2,500 for each student, while the third-place team will receive $1,500 for each student.

The following teams along with their companies have been named semi-finalists:

  • Columbia College Chicago, The Home Depot: Alexia Densmore, Carlos Osuna and Kathryn Williams
  • Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City, IBM: Angela Flegert, Alin Intravisit, Caroline McCormack and Lara Voronkov
  • Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Ga., Kroger: Anne Marie Fuller, Alyssa Jennings and Elijah Manning
  • Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, Ga., Kroger: Ashley Anderson, Keri Lane, Megan Leben and Elizabeth Nemecek
  • Marist College, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., The Home Depot: Jessica Flatley, Rachel Godwin and Angela Richter
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., Kroger: Mary Cayten Brakefield, Scout Parker and Matthew Williams
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison, IBM: Lance Dismukes, Molly Foley, Ian Hirsch and Sarah Jane Spreng

About the NRF Foundation
The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail. The NRF Foundation is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm of the National Retail Federation and is funded in part by generous donations from retail industry supporters.



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