Vote for the Cornell Semi-Finalist Team in the Dell Social Innovation Challenge

'Learning From Burning' is designed to give children in Tanzania the power to stop community trash burning...


By Joaquin Ponce '14, Major(s)Economics & Government

Most recently, I came across an interesting competition organized by Dell, called the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. To put it simply, the competition chooses and funds projects that dare to save the world in one way or another. In Cornell spirit, we have a team that has been chosen as one of the 250 semi-finalists that are competing for a ticket to Austin, TX in the attempt to make their dream projects come true.

Burning trash pile in Moshi, Tanzania
Burning trash pile in Moshi, Tanzania

Esther Hoffman, Amber Eller, Lusine Mehrabyan, and Samuel Volkin have raised the interest of the competition’s selection committee with their “Learning from Burning Project.” The proposal aims to reduce waste and pollution from trash burning in Tanzania. Burning trash is tightly correlated with air and water pollution, which in turn causes problems in the general population, especially the young. The Cornellians have decided to tackle the problem from the perspective of education and composting. Their plan is to have Moshi, Tanzania elementary school students bring some of the trash their homes produce to school where they would learn how to sort and create their own compostable bins back at home.

The project is simple yet brilliant because as the group notes, there is no need to burn the trash as most of it is organic anyways. As of now, their status as semi-finalists already gives them access to apply to more grants that could potentially make the project a reality. Nevertheless, you can help too (in two ways)!

1. Vote for their project 

Here are simple directions on how vote (takes only one minute)

  1. Go to
  2. Create an account by clicking "Register" at the top right corner
  3. Check your email with which you signed up with to confirm your email address
  4. Go to
  5. Click "VOTE FOR" under the video

2. Contribute to their project

Wish our Cornell team good luck! 

Views expressed in News posts may not be those of Cornell University. No endorsement is implied.