Mary Kay announces global winners of annual WSI challenge with NFTE

Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer at Mary Kay
Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer at Mary Kay

Mary Kay Inc., a decades-long corporate advocate of women’s education and entrepreneurship, recently announced the top three winners of its third annual World Series of Innovation (WSI) challenge that is organized in partnership with Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE).

What are the major highlights of the WSI challenge?

This global competition encourages youth ages 13-24 to utilize all their critical thinking skills to help solve the world’s greatest challenges on a local, domestic, or international scale, as part of the advancement of the world renown UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Mary Kay’s World Series of Innovation challenge kicked off September 15 in conjunction with World Clean Up Day and encouraged young entrepreneurs to submit innovative solutions to address UN SDG 14: Life Below Water. Students were asked to design a solution to further conservation and/or protection of the world’s marine ecosystems and coastal communities.

Annually, NFTE reaches more than 40,000 youth worldwide, with 3,860 students from around the world submitting ideas for this year’s WSI challenges. More than 485 students participated in the Mary Kay-sponsored challenge. The top 3 winners of Mary Kay’s 2022 WSI Challenge are:

  • First Place: Angel Gear developed a business that purchases broken fishing nets and other gear and repurposes them into reusable nets. Developed by Ryan Zhang (17) and Jia-Teng Lu (16) from Kang Chiao International School in Taiwan.
  • Second Place: Saving the Superstars of the Global Ecosystem utilizes unmanned surface water drones in combination with satellite-based remote sensing systems to locate and identify algae blooms in the Chesapeake Bay. Developed by Emily Carver (17) from Douglas S. Freeman High School in Virginia.
  • Third Place: Reversify designed a sustainable washing machine that repurposes rainwater and filters harmful pollutants in wastewater. Developed by Iyshly Chen (16), Davina Liang (16), and Kelly Luo (16) from Abraham Lincoln High School in California.

What is the community offering of NFTE?

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global educational non-profit focused on bringing the power of entrepreneurship to several low-income communities. Since its founding more than 35 years ago, NFTE has trained thousands of teachers and educated well over a million young people from around the world. Every fall, NFTE launches a new set of tasks and challenges for the WSI competition and invites corporate sponsors to address all the UN SDGs.

The 2022 NFTE World Series of Innovation is presented by Citi Foundation and features challenges that are sponsored by companies such as Mary Kay Inc., MetLife Foundation, Mastercard, Bank of the West, Link, Maxar, Ernst & Young, LLP (EY), ServiceNow and Zuora.

What did the NFTE and Mary Kay Inc. executives say?

Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and Chief Executive Officer of NFTE
Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and Chief Executive Officer of NFTE

“Each year, WSI participants choose from a diverse offering of challenge topics, often selecting one that resonates with their experience. Mary Kay’s Global Oceans Conservation Challenge asked students to think critically about one of the world’s most vital resources – water – and their innovative ideas did not disappoint,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and CEO of NFTE.

“The submissions ranged from social ideas such as engaging the community in order to mobilize and engage activities like cleaning up their local water sources, to engineering ideas such as creating drones that skim the ocean for waste without disrupting natural habitats.”

“Businesses and individuals play critical roles in protecting and conserving our world’s most precious natural resources,” said Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer for Mary Kay Inc.

“Posing challenges of the world’s marine ecosystems to the next generation brings a fresh perspective on problem-solving, and when it comes to this no solution is too small. Students looked at all angles of the issue, proposing innovative, sustainable, and impactful ways to address water conservation everywhere from their homes, all the way to tackling the ocean.”


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