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The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

The NRF Foundation shapes retail’s future by building awareness of the industry through statistics and stories; developing talent through education, experiences and scholarships; and fostering career growth among people who work in retail.

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Student Challenge Class of 2017

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Student Challenge 2017

To learn more about the 2017 Student Challenge semi-finalists, read the press release.

The BIG Pitch

The NRF Foundation collaborated with STORY and KPMG for the 2017 Student Challenge Competition - The BIG Pitch. Nearly 30 teams from NRF member schools selected one of the following themes to focus on: Made in America, Travel or Sensory. They were tasked with finding two to four of the smartest, most creative people they knew to create a 20-page pitch presentation, mock website and 90-second pitch video to convince Rachel Shechtman, the founder and CEO of STORY, why and how their STORY should be produced.

Each team was assigned a KPMG mentor; after an intense round of judging, 10 teams advanced to the semi-finals, which include Q+A calls with a panel of retail executives. Three teams will move on to the finals where they will present live to retail executives at Retails BIG Show Student Program.

The Scholarships

Each student on the top team from Georgia Southern University received a $5,000 scholarship; students on the runner-up team from University of Pennsylvania each received a $2,500 scholarship and third place team members from University of North Texas each earned a $1,500 scholarship. Georgia Southern University was named the top team during the NRF Foundation Gala on Sunday, January 15, in New York.

2017 Top Team

STORY Theme: Made in America               KPMG Mentor: Ali Wampler

NRF Foundation's 2017 Student Challenge

Finalists

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University of North Texas    

Sarah Muller and Hailey Turner

STORY Theme: Travel

KPMG Mentor: Will Garman

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University of Pennsylvania

Jake Fischer, Anissa Lee, Holly Li and David Pang

STORY Theme: Sensory

KPMG Mentor: Priyesh Upreti

Semi-finalists

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Columbia College Chicago    

Blake Fortin, Sammantha Hoefs, Andrea Knight and Victoria Shilby

STORY Theme: Sensory

KPMG Mentor: Dan McNevin

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Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Alexandra Bejan, Sung Cho and Dmitri Walker 

STORY Theme: Sensory

KPMG Mentor: Renee Howard

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Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising

Jillian Colin, Amanda Tobias, Chloe White and Kathryn Wysocki

STORY Theme: Travel

KPMG Mentor: Renee Howard

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Florida State University

Katya Anleu, Leah Crooks and Mitchell Gaylord

STORY Theme: Travel

KPMG Mentor: Sunder Ramakrishnan

 

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Indiana University    

Jessica Huang, Maggie Mendola, Riley O'Bryan and Sanjana Palepu

STORY Theme: Made in America

KPMG Mentor: Kamy Devaguptapu

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University of Georgia    

Madison Lindley, Keilea Orr and Taylor Timmons

STORY Theme: Travel

KPMG Mentor: Joel Rampoldt

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University of Wisconsin-Madison

Breanna Blazei, Krystal Jacobs, Brian Lucksinger and Kendra Trost

STORY Theme: Travel

KPMG Mentor: Greg Brunner

Participating Schools

As each member university could sponsor two teams, 28 teams from 21 schools participated this year. The creativity and hard work demonstrated by all of the teams made it extremely difficult to select only 10 semi-finalists. Congratulations to all of the teams on their creative ideas for bringing the themes of Made in America, Sensory and Travel to life:

Columbia College Chicago, Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Florida State University, Georgia Southern University, Indiana University, Lasell College, Mississippi State University, Pennsylvania State University, Texas State University - San Marcos, The University of Arizona, University of Delaware, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of Houston, University of Illinois, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, University of North Texas, University of Pennsylvania, University of Tennessee-Knoxville and University of Wisconsin-Madison.

NRF Student Association

Take advantage of NRF Student Association membership benefits and student programs.