|In partnership with Linda and Paul McConnell, Ursuline Academy is home to “The 1313 Innovation Center powered by Ursuline.” This initiative is focused on promoting innovation and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit for students of all ages.
Ursuline Academy’s Innovation Program was and continues to be a trailblazer among Delaware high schools, as one of the first to participate in UD’s EntreX program for high school entrepreneurs. This dual enrollment program earns students 3 college electives and AP Quality points as a rigorous college-level course of study. The electives are fully transferable to any college they attend. Today, there are 33 schools participating in EntreX from Connecticut to Florida. UA is one of 14 EntreX labs in Delaware.
Since Ursuline Academy’s Innovation Program launched in 2016, our students have consistently earned accolades and awards in the Diamond Challenge, a worldwide pitch competition for both social and business innovation ideas. UA teams typically qualify for the semi and final rounds of this highly competitive competition.
Award & Competitions
- GI Spy makes Top 9 at UD’s Global Entrepreneurial Competition
Ursuline’s Innovation team consisting of Caroline Randolph, Elle Jerry, and Grace Nkurunziza took their medical app called G.I. Spy to high heights when they placed 9th out of the top 18 teams chosen from within the business innovation track. 62 teams gathered at Clayton Hall at the University of Delaware for the three-day Summit. There were 21 countries and 18 states represented, each with a bright idea to change the world. The caliber of concepts pitched was outstanding with investors and successful entrepreneurs vetting and providing salient feedback for each team.
- Speak UP! Awarded Equity in Design
Speak UP is an app that takes your public speaking skills to the next level. Designed similarly to the well-trusted Grammarly(r) app, Speak UP will prompt you about your fluency, rate of speech and pronunciation. This social innovation won Ursuline the “Equity in Design” award from the Diamond Challenge because it proved beneficial to all students, including ESL (English Second Language) who often don’t speak publicly due to lack of confidence in their public speaking skills.
- February 2023: Upper School Innovation student, Caroline Peach ‘24 participated in the 2023 DELaunch event hosted by Delaware Entrepreneurship League! She placed 2nd at the statewide competition for the UA Innovation student-created concept, Culture Crate, a subscription-based product that builds cultural awareness among children. Great job, Caroline! Read the news article by Technical.ly.
- February 2023: 8th Grade Innovation has set out to refit Ursuline’s school store, the Raider Closet, with safer and recyclable hangers by Earth Day 2023. The class raised money to purchase cardboard hangers and then partnered with Lower School classes to put positive messaging on them. They were able to replace 100 plastic hangers in the store and donate the plastic ones to Target’s upcycling program.
- January 2023: ENTRE-X Innovation Class Is Taking ACTION and Gaining TRACTION! Kaya Blair, Bella Caraballo, and Emily Copeland practiced their social innovation pitch with a panel of experts. The room was filled with professionals who graciously shared their expertise. A big thank you to Drs. Singh Patel and Megan Mickley, Mr. David Liss, Mrs. Donna Masley, Mrs. Andrea Roesser, Mrs. Donna Kinzel, Mr. Patrick Davey, Mrs. Joanna Arat, Mr. Jeffrey Danilak, and Dr. Trisha Medeiros. The insights gained were invaluable to the team. Next steps are to gear up for the trial on Feb. 14—stay tuned!
- December 2022: Our Innovation Program’s Leadership Pitch Event for sophomore students was a success! 42 sophomores led pitches categorized by Environment, Community, Society, and Other Issues, which were judged by 6 outside panelists who are community leaders. Congratulations to our Best in Category Winners:
– Environmental: Claire Kelly “UA Thrift Store”
– Societal: Ella Holmes “Tune In” podcast
– Community: Ellie Johnson “Greater than A Player” athlete resource tool
– Other: Emme Panunto & Lizzie Barnett for their website about Type1 Diabetes
We hope each sophomore will use this Leadership initiative as a launch pad into their junior and senior year service ventures!
- October 2022: Upper School Innovation students were invited by Ursuline alumna, Margaret Mecca ‘99 to visit the URBN Headquarters! Emily Copeland, Kaya Blair & Emilie, her French exchange student, and Bella Caraballo were enchanted by the creative surroundings of the URBN headquarters. After touring the vast warehouses of Urban Outfitters, Free People, and Anthropologie, they were able to interview Margaret Mecca ’99, Head of Technical Design and learn about the URBN Renewal program that repurposes excess fabrics and textiles. These innovative students are aiming to create something special for young, long-term hospital patients that both helps the environment and partners with a local organization. PS: They even saw a model in action!
- September 2022: UA Innovation students attended the DE Connect event and engaged in a Design Sprint for WSFS bank. Besides the chance to meet other entrepreneurial students, Kaya Blair, Emily Copeland, and Bella Caraballo tested their creative abilities in problem solving a real life issue. The students were tasked with finding ways for WSFS bank to engage and attract Gen Zers. The students first brainstormed divergently and then converged on the best idea. Kaya Blair was chosen to present for her team! “I believe that every time I push myself to do something that feels awkward, or that makes me nervous, I will get better and better at doing it.” Kaya remarked after the event. Read the Press Release Here.
- June 2022: Our 7th graders created “Toys that Teach’ as part of their Innovation class. They were tasked with creating various games or toys that engaged different types of learning – kinesthetic, visual, auditory and reading and writing – and our lower school students were the perfect toy testers!
November 2021: Thank you to alumna Sierra Lundstrom ’14, for her recent Zoom “visit” with our Middle School innovation class. Sierra majored in Zoology at Purdue University. She very generously provided the 7th grade students with feedback on their Bio Mimicry proposals, as well as answered individual questions about animals she has encountered in her career. The Bio Mimicry posters were evaluated in three ways: the clarity of their presentation, the quality of their “What if” statement that would attempt to mimic a feature or behavior of an animal and apply it to a human need, and the feasibility of their idea that would help to solve a consequential problem in the world. Our students learned so much during their Zoom with Sierra who advised them to remain curious and to keep asking questions.
October 2021: Congratulations to Ursuline’s Innovation Class, which includes students from Salesianum through our exchange program, who competed in the University of Delaware ENTRE-X Design Sprint! The team won with their idea, DISCARD CARD, as a way to earn points toward travel and leisure every time you recycle! The design sprint was sponsored by Delaware Waste Management Authority who are looking for solutions to encourage better and more consistent recycling in Delaware. The entire class contributed within a tight 45 minute time frame to create and pitch a feasible idea! The class received $250 with each member of the team receiving a $25 gift card!
April 2021: The Innovation Showcase was held on our Green, bringing together our student teams and their creations and campaigns. Our Innovation & Leadership Program Director, Mrs. Erin McNichol, opened the event with these words, “When it comes to innovation, be brave, not perfect, which we know to be so very true as we see Ursuline students bravely introduce and launch new and innovative concepts, projects, campaigns, products, and more every day! A special thank you to our guest judges for sharing their industry insights and suggestions! Judges included Ursuline alum, Caroline Randolph ’19, UD Leadership Professor – Dr. Tony Middlebrooks, Director of EntreX – Felicia Harrington, and representatives from Ursuline’s faculty and administration. Sending a special shout-out to Paul & Linda McConnell for their continued support of Ursuline Academy’s 1313 Innovation Program!
April 2021: The 6th Grade Innovation Class hosted their “Be Sweet, Not Sour!” campaign’s lemonade stand selling refreshing cups of lemonade. All proceeds raised were donated to prevent cyberbullying, dosomething.org.
- February 2021: Pitches don’t only happen on Shark Tank… Ursuline’s Innovation programs teaches students how to pitch as part of their curriculum! The Innovation class (EntreX Dual Enrollment Class) pitched their ideas to an audience of judges on Tuesday in preparation for their presentation at University of Delaware’s Diamond Challenge Competition. Two concepts, SpeakUP – an interactive app to help students with public speaking, and Extinguish- a one-stop mental health resource for Firefighters and their families, were explained in detail hoping to gain support and investment. Next round of pitches begins on March 3. We wish our young entrepreneurs the best of luck ahead! Speak Up team: Kaitlin Burns, Maria Kennedy, Makenna Mastrota, and Taylor Conkey. Extinguish team: Claire Binkley, Laini McGonigle and Madison Kerley.
- February 2020: Congratulations to our Entrepreneur Club’s “Bliss Box” team for placing 1st at Delaware Launch, an entrepreneurial competition at Cab Calloway. Ursuline sent the only 2 all-female teams, “The Bliss Box: A Free kit to Soothe Anxiety Patients” by Bianca Schaen, Audrey Pachuta, and Bridget Lugg and “Logs and Found: Conserving the Monarch Butterfly in your own Backyard” by Ava and Bella Lindia. What an outstanding job by both teams, as well as our team coaches and club moderator.
Erin McNichol, Director of Innovation & Leadership
In the News
Middle School Innovation Helps Elderly Neighbors
Ursuline Featured as Private School Innovators
Successful pilot year for innovation at UA