2018 Montle Prize Winners - Gordon Institute
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CarTrek

Team: Olive Baerde, Mikayla Rose

CarTrek provides the cheapest method for students and young alumni to travel, by connecting drivers and riders to carpool. In doing so, we facilitate a greater sense of community while saving travelers money.

We are solving a double-sided problem: for the riders, we provide a community-based traveling option that is much more convenient and economical compared to buses and trains. For drivers, we help optimize their empty seats to earn back their gas money and help make that drive home a little less monotonous. CarTrek helps riders and drivers enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

CarTrek is a platform (currently a website, soon to be an app) that connects students traveling in the same direction. Students with cars are able to sell their extra seats based on a suggested price provided by CarTrek, then riders can connect, knowing they can trust CarTrek’s network of current college students and recent alumni that have been screened through check of Facebook, college IDs, and emails.

Podium

Team: Daniel Lewis, Covie Goh, Etienne Denis

Podium democratizes journalism by allowing users to create their own news, not just consume it. Podium provides a virtual platform for users to participate in virtual town halls and crowdsourced interviews of all shapes and sizes.

Avenues for interaction between users and influencers are non-civil, non-streamlined, and often, non-informative. Non-civil because the anonymity of the internet leads to a toxic culture of virulent opinions hiding behind a keyboard. Non-streamlined because interacting with influencers is equivalent to throwing a handful of darts at a dart board while wearing a blindfold. And non-informative because these avenues are not incentivized to inform but to addict. The internet needs a platform that is all three—a town hall.

Podium is the next evolution in town halls—it brings the age-old forum of civic engagement online in a way never before seen. It creates a space for civil interaction by facilitating face-to-face communication between users and influencers. Podium streamlines these interactions by ensuring only the questions that the public actually want to hear are answered. With Podium, virtual interviews are opened a week in advance for users to submit questions in the form of 10-15 second video clips. Users will spend the week leading-up to the interview voting on and submitting these questions. Come interview time, the person being interviewed will be able to pick up their phone, and record themselves responding directly to the five crowdsourced questions with the most votes—facilitating near face-to-face interaction between a politician and their constituents or a celebrity and their fans. It’s a talk show, hosted by us. Podium provides a civil platform by forcing everyone to put their face to their words, lifting the veil of online anonymity and consequential toxicity. It’s a streamlined platform because the only content on it is the crowdsourced interviews created by the users–a library of virtual town halls stored all in one place. Finally, it’s an informative platform, because it is focused on actually getting answers for the questions that people see as most important to them.

To the Waters

Team: Magnifique Mukundwa

There is no life without safe water. Water is a human right, yet 780 million people around the world still do not have access to an improved water source. To the Waters aims to end this discrepancy observed in rural areas in developing nations starting with Kabare sector in Rwanda.

In the summer of 2017, I was fortunate to go back home and did an internship with Clinton Development Initiative where I was able to travel to the Eastern Province of Rwanda. While driving, I would see people with bicycles with so many water containers that we call jerricans. These people were on their way going to fetch water from unprotected sources, rivers, marshlands, etc. In addition to unimproved sources of water, the Eastern Province of Rwanda is very dry, which means water scarcity is a big problem. This makes many households fetch water from any source because we all need water to survive. This contaminated water exposes these people to waterborne diseases that can easily be fought with safe water. I came back to the States with hope that I could be part of the solution to this problem. I took classes that taught me about water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition and decided that this is what I want to do for life. I want to increase water access to the disadvantaged in this world starting with Rwanda without forgetting the relationship between water, sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition.

Specifically, To the Waters would like to start with Kabare sector located in the Eastern Province of Rwanda. Kabare sector has 7936 households with 35,536 residents, yet only 75% have access to a water source where most of them are not improved sources. Particularly, there are 5 villages in this sector without water sources at all, which makes residents walk at least 2 km to collect water. And, some households decide to use water from dams that are originally purposed for irrigation because they do not have other options. In addition, there are at least three water sources that need to be repaired because they are vulnerable to contamination especially when it rains. All of these problems have been persistent because of financial challenges of residents of this Kabare. I would like to take part in ending this through To the Waters.

As our first project about water provision, we hope to partner with companies in Rwanda to drill sustainable boreholes starting with the sector of Kabare. In addition, some villages in Kabare have water sources that need renovation because they are vulnerable to contamination. Thus, we hope to first focus on building 5 new wells and repairing 3 wells in Kabare Sector in Rwanda. In addition, we hope to combine water provision with education about training households about the significance of using safe water especially about the point of use water treatment methods such as boiling, washing containers, covering water, chlorine products, etc. Households in rural areas tend to not care about the quality of water because they are not informed about the fact that they can get diseases through drinking untreated water. So, talking about different affordable ways to treat water is also one of our goals.