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Ideas to Serve Competition (I2S)

Workshops to help you prepare for I2S. See topics and dates here.

I2S Finalist Group Photo

Ideas 2 Serve focuses on the in-depth understanding of a social/environmental issue a student is passionate about, supporting an in-depth discovery of that particular problem.

Check out this Prezi for a high-level overview of the new Ideas to Serve.

2019 was the first year of a new philosophy for our competition – one that focused on an in-depth understanding of the social or environmental issue a student is passionate about. This approach provides a comprehensive approach to social innovation, encouraging students to: identify and build on the assets of the communities they want to serve; research the solution landscape to learn from both what works, and what failed (and why); take a systems approach to identifying the root cause versus the symptoms of the issue; conduct customer discovery to better understand the needs of the community; and to carefully consider the possible unintended consequences of any solution they might propose.

2020 will continue this philosophy, supporting and incentivizing an in-depth discovery of any particular social or environmental issue a student is passionate about. Students who are interested in understanding complex problems and/or involved in community - based grassroots efforts to address such problems but don't have an "innovation" can be part of I2S - strengthening the "serve" component of it.

We are also excited to announce that new this year is our collaboration with the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship at the Said Business School at Oxford. We are partnering with their Map the System Global Challenge. The top team(s) from I2S will represent Georgia Tech at Oxford and compete with teams focused on social impact from top universities around the world.

2020 Schedule

 *January through March - Every Monday 4:30 PM, Room CoB 223, Workshops to help you prepare

February 15 -  Intent to Compete (link will be posted here) opens

February 28 – Intent to Compete Deadline (deadline for requesting Mentorship**)

March 04 – Track Designation Communicated with Team Leads

March 23 - Application Deadline (9:00 PM)

March 26 – Finalists Announced

April 1 – I2S Final Poster Showcase (Scheller COB Atrium 4:30 p.m.)

June 5-7 - Map the System Global Finals (Oxford, England)

*Highly recommended but not required for participation in I2S

**Mentorship provided by current Scheller MBA students – reach out to to request a mentor. 


We are morphing our previous tracks - Ideas and Advanced - into two new tracks: Problem Discovery Track -  for students who are exploring a social/environmental issue with the intent of gaining a deep understanding of that space and where their skills fit in, and Solutions Discovery Track - for students who are more advanced on their discovery journey and are formulating community-based solutions. The competition is open to any current Georgia Tech student (undergraduate and graduate) and recent alumni.

Ideas to Serve judges are social sector experts. Some are social entrepreneurs, some are leaders of local nonprofits, some are impact investors, and some are academics who specialize in these areas. A list of this year’s judges will be shared with all participants before the Finals. Beyond evaluating the entries, judges are also ready to connect you to their network and to provide valuable feedback for every team. We encourage all finalists to take advantage of this opportunity, listen to the feedback, and follow-up with judges that indicated their willingness to make connections for you – these are the most valuable outcomes of participating in I2S.


Understanding the Impact Gaps Canvas framework:

What is Systems – Thinking:

Mapping Tools:

  • KumuA powerful data visualization platform that helps you organize complex information into interactive relationship maps

  • Plectica: Helping people visualize & connect information so they can get on the same page

  • Venngage: Tell your stories and present your data with infographics

  • Piktochart: A simple, intuitive tool that helps you tell your story

  • Infogram: Create engaging infographics and reports

  • Canva: Create beautiful designs

  • MindMup: Create, share, and publish mind maps, hassle-free

What to Consider when Conducting Stakeholder Interviews:

Prizes & Sponsors

Problem Discovery Track

First Place - $3,000

Second Place - $1,500

Third Place - $1,000

Solutions Discovery Track

Winner - $3,000

Runner-up - $1,500

Specialty Prizes

People's Choice Award - $500

Best Video Award - $500

Best Poster Award - $500

Best Pitch Award - $500

Scheller MBA Award - $500

Map the System Global Finalist Award - Sponsored Travel and Participation to Map the System Global Finals in Oxford, England** 

*Even if you were not selected to be a finalist, you could be eligible to compete for any of the specialty prizes. 

**Teams that want to be eligible have to fill out a separate, direct application for Map the System (guidelines included in the I2S application form).

The Cecil B. Day Program for Business Ethics (Solution Discovery Track Awards)

Center for Serve - Learn - Sustain (Problem Discovery Track Awards)

Steven A. Denning Technology and Management Program

Center for International Business Education and Research (Map the System Sponsorship) 

Innovation and Design Collaborative 

Scheller College of Business 

LEAD Program

Moseley Ventures 


These changes to the format were developed in close partnership with Serve-Learn-Sustain, as we have worked with them over the past 1.5 years to create and launch the new SLS Innovating for Social Impact Program. The changes in approach were inspired by feedback from our expert collaborators – judges and mentors, who are practitioners in the social impact space, and who have worked with I2S teams for many years. Participation in the Ideas to Serve Competition fulfills the Final Deliverable requirement for the SLS Innovating for Social Impact Program

Our partner student organization is the Scheller MBA Net Impact Chapter. 

We offer a series of workshops (described here) to help you on your problem discovery journey. We highly recommend you attend these if they fit your schedule. The workshops are provided in collaborations with our partners across campus (SLS, Design Collaborative , VentureLab) and feature guest speakers who are practitioners in the social impact space. The curriculum of the workshops was developed with the expert input of Susan Davis, Founder of Improve International and Global Coordinator at Agenda for Change


Have questions? Reach out to