Thurgood Marshall College Fund and Stanley Black & Decker Announce Pitch Winners for Innovation Challenge


WASHINGTON, D.C., Nov. 14, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) and Stanley Black & Decker, with support from Lowes and Steelcase, announced pitch competition results from its Innovation Challenge held at the Steelcase Worklife Center in Chicago on October 19, 2022.

The 2.5-day intra and entrepreneurship training experience was held in conjunction with TMCF’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship (I&E) Program. The Fellows worked side-by-side with Stanley Black & Decker, Lowe’s, and Steelcase team members on real-world problems while developing design thinking skills and solving entrepreneurial challenges.

During the event, students went to workshops ran by entrepreneurs and participated in a business case competition. The Fellows also received mentorship and coaching.

The selection of the 30 members of the cohort were hand-selected students from America’s publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs). Overall, a total of $25,000 in prizes were awarded.

The winners and grant recipients include:

First Place: Blueprint (Dasani Stallworth, Elison Decarvalho, Kamsiyochukwu Arinze, Kenard Holmes) - $10,000. Each member of the winning team received $2,500.

Synopsis of Winning Idea: Creating an AI powered assistant named Kevin to streamline the Lowes return process. They created a demo of how Kevin would simplify the customer interface.

Second Place: Xponential (Henry Fowobaje, Jonathan Little, Nya Anderson, Elijah Smith, Martiara Boyd) - $7,500. Each member of the winning team received $1,500.

Third Place: Lowe-lty (Folaranmi Olawepo, James Franklin, Kaniel Richardson, Keshawn Johnson). Each member of the winning team received $750.

All other students who did not place received $250. The most outstanding performer of the challenge was Johnathan Little, who received $1,000.

In 2019, Black Americans were becoming new entrepreneurs at a rate lower than that of their Latino and white counterparts, according to an analysis by Statista. I&E programs like the Stanley Black & Decker Innovation Challenge can be pivotal for young Black entrepreneurs because HBCUs play an outsized role in educating Black students.

Recent data from McKinsey & Company shows that this kind of investment in HBCUs would profoundly affect the economy.

Training and developing the next generation of Black entrepreneurs is critical to TMCF’s vision and mission as an organization. Over the past seven years, nearly 1,000 students have participated in various I&E programs.

Stanley Black & Decker is a leading $14.5 billion global diversified industrial with approximately 60,000 employees in more than 60 countries. The company knows that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are essential for fulfilling their purpose to honor, support, and advance those who make the world.

The 2022 TMCF Stanley Black & Decker Innovation Challenge Fellows were:

Alabama A & M University

Amari Davis

Taiwo Olawepo

Folaranmi Olawepo

Kamsiyochukwu Arinze

Alabama State University

Dasani Stallworth

Michael Stallworth, Jr

Devian Stallworth

Cheyney University of Pennsylvania

Alan Graham III

Florida A&M University

Kenyatta Divine

Elison Decarvalho

Fisk University

Henry Fowobaje

Grambling State University

Darielle Clark

Langston University

Terrance Woodard

Mississippi Valley State University

Nya Anderson

Morgan State University

Emmanuel Ibeh

Shalom Dades

Martin Adu-Boahene

Norfolk State University

Elijah Smith

North Carolina A & T State University

Tori Johnson

Jonathan Little

Keshawn Johnson

Martiara Boyd

North Carolina Central University

James Franklin

Savannah State University

Elandria Richards

South Carolina State University

Kenard Holmes

University of the Virgin Islands - St. Thomas

Kaniel Richardson

About the Thurgood Marshall College Fund

Established in 1987, the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) is the nation’s largest organization exclusively representing the Black College Community. TMCF member-schools include the publicly-supported Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Predominantly Black Institutions, enrolling nearly 80% of all students attending black colleges and universities. Through scholarships, capacity building and research initiatives, innovative programs, and strategic partnerships, TMCF is a vital resource in the K-12 and higher education space. The organization is also the source of top employers seeking top talent for competitive internships and good jobs.

TMCF is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, charitable organization. For more information about TMCF, visit:

CONTACT: Chevonne Mansfield

Thurgood Marshall College Fund