The University of Delaware offers an entrepreneurial program for high school students named the “Diamond Challenge” where $100,000 in prizes is awarded each spring.
Launched nearly a decade ago, the program invites high school students to create teams of two to four people, recruit an adult advisor, and come up with a business or social-venture concept. It runs the entire school year, accepting applications in August. Participants are provided with a toolkit that includes sample pitch decks from some of the world’s biggest brands as well as examples of past Challenge winners.
They also take part in peer-to-peer mentoring and connect with a global network that includes virtual meetups. In February, the teams pitch live and virtually to global panels of judges. In March, judges choose semifinalists, and the experience culminates in a weeklong summit in April, where the top 10 percent of the teams compete for prizes.
Prior to COVID-19, the three-day summit was in person, and students would travel from around the world to attend. Now, the summit is a virtual experience that includes breakout rooms, one-on-one meetings with community leaders, keynote speakers, semifinal team pitches and an awards ceremony.