As you know, for the past few months we had been working at the Changemaker Institute to shape our ideas and create a business model canvas. We’d also been working with some members of Tulane administration who weren’t completely sold on the idea. Will students be okay with you taking their stuff at the end of the year and reselling it for money? Will people be willing to buy new stuff? Are you actually capable of collecting all the stuff that students throw out? All of these were, of course, valid questions, since we’d never attempted anything like this before. Anyway, it boiled down to a matter of funding, and the administration told us that we could carry out our project if we got funding for it. We’d applied for some smaller awards for $500, but our main needs like storage units and trucks were pretty expensive and without those, we couldn’t really carry out our project on any sort of larger scale.
The Changemaker Institute was designed to help us apply for the NewDay Challenge and we worked on our application for weeks, working out a budget and trying to our idea and how it benefits the New Orleans community. The first draft was due on April 1st at midnight, a deadline which we did not quite make. I was formatting the first draft trying to convert word files to PDF’s and vice versa and was having a terrible time. I sent the draft in at 12:10 AM with a massive apology e-mail and tears streaming down my face because I was so sure that it wouldn’t be accepted. They were very specific about the deadline on the poster and I was convinced that I had let the entire team down. But luckily, the people at CELT aren’t dream-crushers and they accepted it and a few weeks later we were given feedback on our application and assigned a mentor – Kevin Morgan-Rothschild from VertiGro Farms – a previous NewDay Challenge winner.
We continued to work on our application based on the feedback we got. I have it on record that Anne Bevis did not sleep for three straight days working on this thing. It’s all about the sacrifice, people. We resubmitted, before the deadline, this time, and then all that was left to do was wait. They told us that we would hear back that Monday if we were awarded any money.
Well we waited. And come Monday, we kept waiting. And we didn’t hear ANYTHING. And on Tuesday, we didn’t hear anything. I know they say that no news is good news, but in this case, we decided that we hadn’t won anything and felt very discouraged. And a little bit dejected that they hadn’t at least sent us an e-mail to say we hadn’t won anything. I feel like that is a necessary courtesy in applying for a job or award – they should at least tell you if you don’t get it so you can move on with your life. We were discouraged and felt as though all the hard work we had put in was for nothing.
BUT THEN… on Wednesday evening, I was sitting in my nutrition class not paying attention and checking my phone and saw one of the most beautiful e-mails I’d ever received. It was from the NewDay challenge and it said: Congratulations! We were invited to the Tulane Business and Entrepreneurs Gala that Friday to receive our award! So that Friday, we dressed up, enjoyed a free fancy dinner, open bar and mingling with other classy business people.
So look out Tulane! This spring, coming to residence halls near you, Tulane Trash to Treasure will be setting up to take all of your old dorm stuff that would otherwise be thrown out. See ya soon!