Empowering the Next Generation of Leaders in Digital Product Development

WillowTree for Good is activism that relies on action.

In this social entrepreneurship competition, we ask teams of undergraduate students to explore the world’s most pressing challenges — and then suggest how a digital experience can solve them.

Winners participate in WillowTree's competitive, award-winning summer internship program. During their summer internship, students take their concept to reality: they develop and launch their app alongside a team of WillowTree expert engineers, designers, and strategists.

“There is nothing more powerful than applying knowledge to real-world situations and in pursuit of a cause close to your heart and your community.”

Kelli Palmer, Chief Diversity Officer

Read more about Kelli’s vision for the WillowTree for Good program.

Past Winner

The WillowTree for Good 2023 winner was Team StayFull:

  • Josh Garrett, NC State University
  • Lars Heidenreich, Elon University
  • Chalisa Phoomsakha, UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Gustavo Rios, UNC-Chapel Hill

The team proposed a comprehensive food security app, providing mapping services to locate resources, event broadcasting for community engagement, a resource repository to share information about organizations providing services, and booking features to connect organizations with eligible recipients.

“StayFull’s presentation focused on the tech, the product, and the market. The students performed extensive market research and competitive analysis, and persuasively communicated their app’s key differentiators and overall value proposition. You don’t see that in many hackathons or entrepreneurship competitions.”

Mike Moore, Chief Commerical Officer

Learn more about Mike's key takeaways from our inaugural WillowTree for Good competition.

How the Competition Works

Students should identify a social issue that requires meaningful change, then effectively address it with a mobile app concept. We challenge teams to tackle problems that impact marginalized communities, in particular.

Past finalists have addressed food insecurity through apps that assist shoppers in finding affordable groceries nearby and in building and sustaining community gardens. Another app helped defend users against date rape by tracking vitals and identifying potential risk factors.

Teams have three weeks to submit first-round concepts for review, with the top four moving on to the final round. WillowTree advisors will be assigned to consult with teams during the process. The finalists will then be invited to present their concepts to WillowTree leadership and senior innovation executives.

The winning team will participate in WillowTree’s competitive, award-winning summer internship program. During this time, they will receive mentorship from WillowTree colleagues across disciplines, all working together to turn one team’s idea into a workable, community-changing reality.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate?

The competition is open to undergraduate students currently enrolled in a college or university in North Carolina. While participants need not be computer science majors, they are expected to thoroughly understand the subject. WillowTree understands the importance of incorporating diverse perspectives and making technology accessible to everyone. For that reason, students from historically marginalized communities are especially encouraged to apply.

How much does it cost?

There is no registration fee to participate. WillowTree will cover the cost of transportation and accommodation as required for the kickoff meeting and the competition final. Additional expenses will be the responsibility of each participant.

What’s the schedule?

Teams assigned – February 2024
Kickoff Meeting – February 2024
Teams Submit First-Round Proposals – March 2024
Announce Finalists – April 2024
Competition Finals – April 2024
Internships Begin for Winning Team – June 2024

How do I register?

Registration opens mid-January and includes a five-minute video submission describing your project and your resume and credentials. Sign up to be notified when registration has opened.

Who will be on my team?

Each team should include at least two and at most four undergraduate students currently attending college or university in North Carolina. Teams may bring together students from multiple institutions. We recommend a team structure that includes one designer, one project manager, and one to two engineers. Join our public slack channel if you’re looking for team members: #TBC-willowtree-for-good.

Who will my advisors be?

Each team will be assigned a WillowTree product designer and a WillowTree software engineer to support their work. Each advisor will spend up to two hours with the team during the first round. For teams that advance to the final round, each advisor can spend an additional two hours with the team.

Who are the judges?

First-round judges will represent WillowTree leadership in engineering, design, strategy, and research. In addition, final-round judges will include innovation experts from a selection of clients.

What should my first round submission look like?

Your submission should include a ten-minute video submission accompanied by a presentation deck. The presentation deck is not limited to slides referenced in your video submission. This submission is a proof of concept and doesn’t require app development.

What should my final round submission look like?

You will make a ten-minute, in-person presentation to judges in our office. You will be expected to have a slide deck and be prepared for ten to fifteen minutes of questions.

Sign up to receive updates on the next WillowTree for Good competition.

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