America250PA Faculty Webinar Recap

If you missed the 2020 Direct Effect Innovation Challenge Faculty Webinar or just want to review the necessities, you’ve come to a good place. The following information includes essential information from the webinar. For more detailed information, please visit

Introduction and Goal

The webinar’s primary goal is to inform educators and provide the necessary tools and slides to run the event.

Executive Director of America250PA, Cassandra Coleman, opens the webinar by sharing her excitement for the 2020 Buy PA Challenge. Last year, 32 colleges from 15 PA counties participated, and she hopes this year’s challenge will include even more.

Coleman walks through America250PA Essentials:

• America250PA’s goal is to celebrate America’s 250th birthday and Pennsylvania’s central role in America’s past, present, and future. • The America250PA Commission’s goal is to work with Pennsylvania schools to create a program that will be EPIC: Educate, Preserve, Innovate, Celebrate and reach every Pennsylvanian by the time America celebrates together on July 4, 2026.

The 2020 Challenge continues the America250PA mission launched in 2019 when PA Governor, Tom Wolf, explained, “We will honor our country’s founders by inviting students from across the state to come together and share their ideas about how our state can support Pennsylvania businesses present, and future.

“As the inaugural state in the national to kick off America’s 250th birthday, we’re excited to invite you to make history with us.”

Overall, the campaign will implement EPIC focus areas: people, commerce, history, technology, education, arts, innovation, sports, nature, diversity & inclusion, and more.

What’s New for 2020?

Vicki Stephen, Lead Executive of Small Business Strategy Development for the United States Postal Service, walks through what is to be expected for the 2020 challenge.

  1. This year’s competition is 100% virtual. It will be held over Zoom while preserving the interaction, collaboration and experiential learning of last year’s competition.

  2. The 2020 competition will go into greater depth. Regional winners will develop both a B2B and a B2C marketing campaign, with the Buy PA theme being a focal point.

How to Get Started

  1. Invite other faculty to join you. Each school can have several faculty members represent the school in the competition. One of you should serve as the point of contact and manage the Campus Challenge.

  2. Visit Click on the “Innovation Challenge” tab to find the tools and information on the Challenge.

  3. Click on the registration rink. Complete the brief online form, including the name and contact information for your academic leader, and click submit. Your school is now registered! We’ll follow up with your academic leader.

Campus Round

Please note that campus round concepts must be submitted by October 2, 2020. (UPDATE: the deadline has been extended to October 9, 2020)

It is recommended that you adapt the Campus Round process to meet your school’s unique needs.

Robert Morris University (RMU) educators Eliada Griffin-El, PhD, and Anthony Moretti, phD, share their experience taking part in last year’s Direct Effect Innovation Challenge and explain how they formed their student teams.

Griffin-El explains that RMU sought the feedback of faculty colleagues to find students interested in expanding their skillsets. She encourages other faculty members to consider students of various academic disciplines, as diversity creates a rich, innovative team.

Moretti agrees, adding that it’s important to take a back seat as an educator and to allow the students to “drive the boat”—all the while encouraging them to promote themselves and take advantage of opportunities to grow and network. He explains this process even further in a previous DEIC interview titled “Southwest Direct Effect Innovation Challenge—Robert Morris University.”

They also share their adaptation of the judging process. Griffin-El describes the judging process as a “mutually constructive and delightfully intense learning experience.” RMU invited faculty of various disciplines to provide feedback to the students’ presentations and engage in dialogue to promote improvement. Based on the feedback from faculty, one team was chosen as a winner and progressed to the regional round.

While flexibility is encouraged, consider the proposed time allotments for the Campus Round to begin planning your event:

Slides for flexible use in the campus round can be found on


  • Welcome students to the event

  • Provide background on America250PA

  • Give an overview of the innovation challenge

  • Present the challenge for the Campus Round

  • Create your one-page concept

Competition Overview

The BuyPA Challenge

The primary goal of the Buy PA Challenge is to engage all Pennsylvanians in supporting PA businesses by:

  • Connecting students and faculty to PA businesses

  • Creating innovative concepts to drive PA business growth

  • Include everyone from start-ups to big businesses

  • Share the stories

The Campus Round Assignment is to create initial concepts to launch Buy PA.

BuyPA Campus Round concepts should be submitted on one page.

Example Campaign

The following slide is an example of a Campus Round B2B campaign concept. It features a bulleted description that summarizes key points, relevant links that demonstrate research and inspiration, insight about the how the concept meets the needs of the challenge, and a visual to demonstrate how the concept may be executed.

Those who watch the webinar recording and/or download the slide deck may also see the concept that RMU developed for last year’s competition.

Moretti adds that it’s important to stress to students that their ideas should constantly be built upon—even if a Campus Round concept progresses to the Regional Round, you should still encourage students to continue growing their ideas at every stage.

Recommended Process

We encourage you to share the judging criteria with students so they have a full understanding of what they should aim to achieve.

Though only one team will move on to the Regional Round, we encourage you to submit all student concepts. The America250PA Commission takes all of the ideas into consideration as the initiative progresses.

Next Steps

After Campus Round concepts are submitted, this is what you can expect:

  1. The Commission reviews all concept submissions and uses them to develop the Regional Round challenge.

  2. Each student participant receives a certificate via email with language they can use on LinkedIn bios or resumes.

  3. America250PA will follow up with faculty facilitators regarding participcation in the regional round (to be held the week of October 26 at virtual sessions around the Commonwealth).

  4. Follow the action via #America250PA. There are continuing opportunities for engagement through 2026.

  5. Any educator can use an idea or concept and work with students to support America250PA on their campus.

Students: Share America250PA Impact. The America250PA commission wants to share any and all success. Share your stories with

Faculty: Join the America250PA Academic Commission. We are providing a statewide platform allowing our academic leaders to share their research, expand their networks, and help shape our next Innovation Challenges. Sign up with

Moretti encourages all educators to consider joining the Academic Commission, as it is an “opportunity as educators to become an integral part of this America250PA campaign.”

Final Notes

Don’t forget:

  • Register at

  • Send questions to

  • Help shape the future of PA businesses


You are encouraged to watch the full webinar recording for more information, including additional stories and tips from Griffin-El and Moretti. Utilize throughout the process and reach out whenever help is needed. Best of luck with the Campus Round!

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