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Earlham EPIC Grand Challenge

Our Social and Economic Impact Challenge

The Wicked Problems of the 21st Century Demand a Multidisciplinary Approach for the Solutions.

The Earlham EPIC Grand Challenge is a comprehensive proposal competition with a focus on solving local issues in Wayne County, Indiana. The competition is based around three pillars Neighborhood Development, Community Development, and Employability.

Forward Wayne County is a comprehensive effort to foster a vibrant economy, and promote prosperity in Wayne County, Indiana. To do this, we’re working to align community resources around Human Capital Development and Quality of Place initiatives to attract, develop, and retain a highly competitive workforce. In this sense, Forward Wayne County is a backbone organization, inspiring collaboration with respect to measurable goals and objectives.  Learn more →

Megan -Sanders

Megan Sanders
Program Director of Forward Wayne County

Steve Borchers

Steve Borchers
Executive Director of the Wayne County Foundation

Creating Social and Economic Change in Wayne County, Indiana

This year we challenge you to play an active role in strengthening our community here in Wayne County by utilizing the power of integrative collaboration to improve the quality of life for 25,000 citizens in Wayne County, Indiana by 2025.

Teams can choose to address this challenge by targeting three key focus areas: Neighborhood Development, Employability, and Community Development.

Neighborhood Development

  • Stagnant property values: Develop and implement initiatives that can enhance property values in neighborhoods and towns in Wayne County, Indiana
  • Increase "home ownership": Develop and implement initiatives that will drive "private home ownership" in neighborhoods and towns in Wayne County, Indiana


  • "Upskill" the current Wayne County, Indiana workforce: Develop and implement initiatives that will help to solve the current lack of "high skilled" labor and talent to meet the demands of today's and future employers

Community Development

  • Inability to attract new residents and retain current residents to Wayne County, Indiana: Develop and implement initiatives that help to create an "environment" that current, new and potential residents (outside of Wayne County, Indiana) will find compelling to live work and play

Who Can Enter

Each team (2-5 members) that competes for the Earlham EPIC Grand Challenge must be made up of Earlham, Earlham School of Religion, or Graduate School of Education.


About the Process

The competition has four phases:

  • Elevator Pitch: A two-minute presentation accompanied by a single PowerPoint slide. (Video 8:00)
  • Cameo Round: Includes a business model canvas, a five-page paper about the project idea and a five-minute PowerPoint presentation.
  • Judges Prep Review: This is the session like seen on Shark Tank.
  • Finals Round: A comprehensive project plan and a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation.

Judges will look for innovation, social impact, quality of the materials presented and the entry’s potential for success in the marketplace.

Timeline for 2019-2020 Earlham EPIC Grand Challenge

  • Elevator Pitch: Saturday, February 29th, 2020 at 10 am in Landrum Bolling Center 105.
  • Cameo Round: Saturday, March 28th, 2020 at 10 am in Landrum Bolling Center 105.
  • Judges Prep Review. Saturday, April 4th, 2020 at 10 am in CoLab.
  • Finals Round: Tuesday, April 21st, 2020 at 7 pm in Goddard Auditorium. 

Support from the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

In addition to sponsoring the competition, The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Earlham Global Management program host workshops on:

  • Launching a Social Business - November 6th - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Scaling and Measuring Impact - November 7th - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Developing a Marketing Plan - November 12th - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Business Model Canvas - November 13 - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Elevator Pitch - January 21st - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Developing Financial Statements - January 22nd - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Comprehensive Project Proposal - January 23rd - CoLab - PowerPoint

In partnership with Forward Wayne County the CoLab will host three community partner workshops based around Employability, Population Turnaround, and Neighborhood Development.

  • Employability - December 2nd - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Population Turnaround - December 3rd - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Neighborhood Development - December 5th - CoLab - PowerPoint

In partnership with various other community partners the CoLab will host two workshops with a focus on working with a community partner.

  • More People, more funds - January 17th - CoLab - PowerPoint
  • Eliminating Student Debt and Revitalizing the Neighborhood - January 24th - CoLab - PowerPoint

For Student: Potential Projects and Mentors

Potential Projects

  • What to do with the old Reid Hospital site?
  • How to diffuse the Opioid crisis?
  • How do we tap into the talents or re-employ those in recovery?
  • How do we incorporate the use of solar panels into the design of the Townsend Center?
  • How to increase the city's revenue without taxation?
  • Blight removal vs. preservation of historic dilapidated properties?
  • Affordable transportation in the evening? How to optimize Rose View Transit?
  • Re-purposing the downtown promenade?
  • How much money would a county-wide food and beverage tax generate and what would be the best way to utilize these dollars?
  • City government property assessments: repair, remodel, move to new properties?
  • Creating a city government leadership development training academy?
  • Bringing more retirees to Richmond to increase property values?
  • Developing an interactive children's museum?

Potential Mentors:

  • Alexandra Pflug
  • Charlie Peck
  • Juan Gabaldon-Vielma
  • Rachael Reavis
  • Rossa Darni

Apply Now

To learn more about The Earlham EPIC Grand Challenge, please read the rules and eligibility guidelines. Student applications are due Thursday, February 13th at 5pm.

For More Information

For further information regarding Earlham EPIC Grand Challenge, please contact:

Gene Hambrick, Director Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and Executive in Residence, hambrle@earlham.edu or 765-983-1356.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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Richmond, Indiana
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Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.