University of Delaware
Registration is now open for the Horn Program's 2016 Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs, which offers a new prize pool of over $50,000.

Social venture track added

Horn Program launches 2016 Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs

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2:11 p.m., Sept. 16, 2015--The University of Delaware Horn Program in Entrepreneurship has announced the opening of registration for the 2016 Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs

The Diamond Challenge is a real world venture concept competition for teams of high school students. This year’s competition incorporates a number of new features, including the addition of the social venture competition track.

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“In the past, we offered a prize for concepts with the most potential for positive social impact,” said Julie Frieswyk, Horn Program manager of youth programs. “We saw such a response from young people in that direction that we knew it was time to develop a separate track and curriculum, ‘Venturing for Good.’”

The social venture competition focuses on the development of new social impact models, including revenue-generating nonprofit organizations and mission-driven for-profit ventures. 

The business concept competition focuses on the development of new for-profit business models. 

Both competitions are supported by an innovative video-based curriculum that teaches participants how to conceive an idea for a new business or social venture, gather evidence to validate their idea and pitch their idea by submitting a written concept and presenting to a panel of judges.

“We’ve seen firsthand that participation in the Diamond Challenge can alter the life trajectories of students and positively impact entire schools and communities,” said Dan Freeman, Horn Program director. “We are incredibly excited about the launch of the 2016 Diamond Challenge, which is new and improved in many ways.”

Other new elements of this year’s Diamond Challenge include:

  • Providing access to all high school students by accepting video pitches from teams who cannot travel to a preliminary round regional/national site’
  • Expanding the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit, which includes the final pitch events for the Diamond Challenge, into a two-day event; and
  • Doubling the total prize pool to more than $50,000.

While this year’s program is built to include high school students from around the world, the Diamond Challenge is also focused on growing participation in Delaware.

Frieswyk said that, working with partners like the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Education, “We are confident we’ll find a way into the hearts and minds of young people, planting a seed that they may someday choose to nurture, creating a new path – whether that’s a venture of their own, or within an existing organization.”

“The fact is, we’re all creators,” Frieswyk said. “Sometimes we just need a little push, or a platform in this case, to showcase that side of ourselves.”

Registration and access to the curriculum are free. Teams of 2-4 students from around the world are eligible to participate if they are enrolled in a secondary school or educational program and have a teacher, parent or community member who is willing to serve as the adviser.

For more information about the Diamond Challenge, contact Julie Frieswyk, julief@udel.edu, 302-831-1527 or visit the website

About the Diamond Challenge

The Horn Program created the Diamond Challenge in 2012 with a twofold purpose: to expose high school students to entrepreneurship as a viable career path, and to provide high school students with an outstanding opportunity to learn about the entrepreneurial process while attempting to put their ideas for new businesses into action. 

Since its launch, almost 2,000 students from around the world have participated in the Diamond Challenge. The Diamond Challenge serves as the cornerstone for the Horn Program’s Paul and Linda McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative.

Paul McConnell, a 1974 UD graduate and lifelong business developer, said that he is excited for this year’s Diamond Challenge and future Horn Program events.

“I enjoy every minute of the competition and look forward to meeting the student entrepreneurs and participating in the final round events,” McConnell said. “I always learn something and get re-energized toward our greater future.”

McConnell’s fellow Horn Program Advisory Board member Kris Vaddi agreed, saying, “The Diamond Challenge offers a unique opportunity for high school students to obtain a structured introduction to entrepreneurial thinking, tools they need to channel their creative thinking into business concepts and face the challenge of convincing others that their ideas are worth investing in.” 

Vaddi, also a founder of multiple ventures, continued, “These are the life lessons that will serve them well, not only for starting new businesses but succeeding in whatever career path they take."

About the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship

The Horn Program ignites imaginations and empowers world changers through entrepreneurial education. 

The program’s offerings emphasize experiential learning, evidence-based entrepreneurship and active engagement with entrepreneurs, business leaders and members of the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem. 

Participation in Horn Program courses and co-curricular activities empowers students by providing them with the knowledge, skills, connections and access to resources needed to successfully manifest innovation and thrive in a rapidly changing world.

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