Mobile app and community engagement program takes prize at DC Climathon

December 13, 2020

For Immediate Release: December 14, 2020      Contact: Kimberly Williams, GW Office of Sustainability
Telephone: 202-288-3731
E-mail: [email protected]

Mobile app and community engagement program takes prize at DC Climathon

WASHINGTON, D.C. --- Given rising temperatures and disproportionate impacts of heat, DC is seeking solutions to keep people safe and cool. As part of the entrepreneurial competition DC Climathon, The George Washington University (GW) awarded $3,000 to a team of young innovators for their real solutions. The winning idea is a program to develop a mobile app and community engagement program to help people find and access cooling centers in the District of Columbia.

"The impacts of climate change are hitting our region hard,” said Meghan Chapple, Director of GW’s Office of Sustainability. “Creative minds from GW and across the District of Columbia have seeded hope and vision with their innovative yet practical ideas. Residents in Washington, D.C. will benefit from the winning solution that helps community members, particularly in underserved neighborhoods, find relief from increased temperatures and extreme heat."

Climathon is a global 24-hour hackathon that took place simultaneously in major cities around the world on November 13th, 2020. Innovators were challenged to develop creative local and regional solutions to make progress on climate change and sustainable development.  GW and the District of Columbia government partnered with key stakeholders across the public and private sectors for the DC Climathon. Held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this year’s DC Climathon was facilitated by R. Denise Everson. Everson is the Leader of the Sustainable Communities Project®, a public private philanthropic effort led by ThinkBox with support from GW, which focuses on amplifying entrepreneurship, improving wellness, creating realistic jobs, and promoting STEAM Education.

"I was honored to serve as the 2020 Facilitator for the DC Climathon,” said R. Denise Everson. Climathon offers local entrepreneurs an opportunity to grow solutions to stated problems unique to DC into innovative viable business proposals. Its holistic approach sets ventures up for success.”

Before awarding prizes, the review panel evaluated the project proposal, plan for community engagement, and business plan.  Bringing together expertise in climate resilience and business, the panel of judges included Caroline Howe, Sustainable DC Program Analyst for the Department of Energy and Environment, Melissa Deas, Climate Program Analyst for the Department of Energy and Environment, Daron Coates, co-founder and Managing Director of ThinkBox Group, LLC and R. Denise Everson.

“Despite existing resources for keeping people safe during heat emergencies, such as cooling centers, these resources remain underutilized; this results in cases of heat-related illness and even death, both of which are preventable,” said Erica Surratt from team Cool It! DC.  “We are proposing the use of an integrated engagement solution that leverages technology via use of  a mobile app that will not only notify users of potential and existing heat emergencies in DC, but also allow them to locate nearby cooling centers, rate the experience of these centers and check in for themselves and on behalf of others.”

The review panel decided to award $3,000 to the team “Cool It! DC”, to support their efforts to implement the project in local DC neighborhoods.  Next, the team will continue to garner resources and support for their project in the GW New Venture Competition, a competition that provides real-world educational experience in developing, testing, and launching startup ventures.

The winning team will proceed to the GW New Venture Competition, where more than $500,000 of non-restricted cash and in-kind prizes are awarded to launch their startups. The team will also participate in SeedSpot’s 2-day Launch Camp that provides entrepreneurs and individuals that are exploring starting a venture a safe space to explore and launch their idea. Throughout both programs, the team will access to mentors, content experts, and entrepreneurship resources.

Sustainable GW would like to thank the Climathon 2020 sponsor, Wells Fargo Foundation, for the generous financial support of our virtual event. Without Wells Fargo’s leadership, our reimagined event would not have been possible.