MIIS Hult Prize Team Heads to Boston

hultpic1Laura Benoit (MPA), Derek Musial (MBA), and Jeanette Pelizzon (MPA) will be
representing the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey competing in
this years Hult Prize regional finals to be held in Boston, MA on March 13th and 14th.
The team of MIIS graduate students have created an innovative social enterprise that
aims to solve this years Hult Prize challenge, posed by former President Bill Clinton, of
providing quality early education to ten million children under age six in urban slums by

The team competed at the Hult Prize @ MIIS campus competition held in November in
Irvine auditorium where they presented the first iteration of their idea to a panel of five
local judges. After receiving valuable feedback from the judges, the team went back to
the drawing board; almost completely revamping their initial idea to submit to the
general application for the Boston regionals. Chosen from over 20,000 applicants the
teams idea, dubbed TucánTu, is now one step closer to winning USD 1 Million in seed
capital. “We have put a lot of time and energy into better understanding the needs of
young children and how to best address them in a sustainable manner in the urban
slum,” says Pelizzon. Together the team has over eight years of experience working in
health, gender equity, agriculture, economic empowerment and education across three
continents. This real world experience, combined with the classroom theory provided by
MIIS has given these students the tools they need to holistically tackle the problem
presented. “We are working to address some of the world’s most complex issues
through social entrepreneurship and building upon assets and opportunities that already
exist but need to be strengthened and combined to increase impact,” says Benoit, a
second year MPA student.

The team has worked to incorporate knowledge through an emergent process during which
the idea has evolved through research and conversations with experts in the field including
a primary school teacher turned principal from Mexico City, and Steve Hollingworth CEO of
Freedom From Hunger to strengthen their idea. To gain a better understanding of the target
population the team hosted a design thinking sessions with their peers. On-going support
from the newly formed Center for Social Impact Learning has allowed the team the additional
resources they have needed in their bid for the USD 1 million prize.

Sites DOT MIISThe Middlebury Institute site network.