Prizes for Innovation


prizes for innovation

The Institute for Emerging Issues is excited to present prize opportunities for high school and college students who develop new ways in which North Carolina can help teachers and improve our state’s education systems.

A good teacher can be the difference in a child graduating from high school or dropping out, from understanding or memorizing, from earning a decent salary or living paycheck to paycheck. Good teachers shape students for life outside the classroom, making them well-rounded citizens with a capacity – and often a desire – for lifelong learning.  Without highly effective educators, North Carolina’s students will be ill prepared for meaningful, well-paying careers, and North Carolina runs the risk of operating without a globally competitive workforce. 

As the Institute for Emerging Issues turns its attention to helping North Carolina scale innovative and effective practices to train, retain and promote high quality teachers, we recognize that students also play an important role in their education. To this end, IEI is announcing two prize opportunities, one for high school students and one for college students, to submit ideas that will help revolutionize the classroom and teaching experience for our state’s educators. 

Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation

2012 winning team LinkedUp from University of North Carolina Greensboro partners 4th graders with 9th grade students for long-term mentorships.


High School

The advent of technology means our world is rapidly changing, which in turn means our classrooms must change if they are going to best serve our students and teachers. IEI’s challenge to high school teams is to design a process, environment, or tool to help students invest in and direct their learning in K-12 classrooms. We’re not simply seeking something that will just make the classroom more “fun” or “exciting”, but looking for an idea that will have a powerful impact on how, when, what, and where students learn. The winning team will receive $5,000 to implement their idea.

Click here to learn more.


The inaugural State Employees Credit Union (SECU) Emerging Issues Prize for Innovation challenges students at two- and four-year colleges and universities throughout North Carolina to develop new and innovative ways to support our state’s K-12 teachers. We recognize that our educational system is not the only means of support. We must look at the roles businesses, parents, and the broarder community play in helping our state develop a world class teaching workforce. Students may select one of four topics to respond to, representing education, health, the natural and built environments, and the economy.  Winners in each category will receive $50,000 in cash and mentorship to turn their ideas into reality. 

Click here to learn more.