Incubating Ideas for Social Change

Do you or a group of friends have an idea to address a need on campus or that benefits the community? iChangeFIU, formally known as GOJA-iChangeFIU Social Innovation Challenge, is one of the newest programs at the Center for Leadership and Service. In it's first 3 years it was a partnership with FIU's Center for Leadership and Service and Walter Gonzalez Jr., the president of GOJA LLC, an online e-commerce company that ships thousands of orders each day to customers all over the world. Thanks to Walter Gonzalez and GOJA, many students have funded their business ventures.

iChangeFIU today is still a social impact program that strengthens the capacity of students to develop innovative solutions to complex social problems. Our overall mission is to create a space where students can learn about social innovation and entrepreneurship, pitch an idea to address a need in our campus community to a panel of informed judges, provide mentorship, and earn a chance to be awarded funding to kickstart those ideas.


GOJA, LLC is one of the world’s largest Amazon sellers. GOJA combines its software and strategies to accelerate growth for its brands and partners on Amazon and beyond. To learn more about GOJA, visit www.GOJA.com.


How to Participate:

iChangeFIU is the premier social innovation shark tank at FIU! All you have to do is come up with a 3-5 minute pitch that does three things:

  • Identify a problem that affects a specific population
  • Identify a potential solution to that problem
  • Describe how your idea for a sustainable venture (non-profit or for-profit) can be a part of the solution


Past Winners

  • 2016-2017

    Andrea Saladrigas

    Master Honey

    We aim to empower lower income women to start their own micro beekeeping business by proving them with all the education and economic resources that they need, as well as assuring them a steady line of income by buying and commercializing the honey produced.


    2017 winner 

  • 2017-2018

    Alyssa Pepio

    H.E.A.R.T.: Human trafficking Education and Resource Training

    Many anti-trafficking organizations provide some form of training on human trafficking, however very few focus on education environments, and even fewer follow a sustainable “train the trainer” format. Human Trafficking Education And Resource Training plans to take a trauma-informed, education focused, and sustainable approach.


    2018 winner

  • 2018-2019
    First Place: Vikaasha - Yashaswi Tapadia, Arquimides Perez-Leyva, and Katie Friescen

    Growing up in India, Yashaswi (Yashi) Tapadia, a sophomore studying economics, saw farmers struggle — working more than 80 hours a week and still not able to make enough money and yield enough crops to feed their families. So, she, along with Arquimides (Arqui) Perez-Leyva and Katie Friescen, sought out a solution. The team decided to bring greenhouse technology to schools so that children of farming families can bring the skills and knowledge back home.

    Read their full story here


    2nd Place: Good Dog Project - Angel Ribolla

    Angel Ribolla, a FIU Online senior studying psychology and entrepreneurship, took her college experience full-circle when she Skyped-in from nearly 1,000 miles away to pitch her passion project helping people train dogs via instructional web videos. The Good Dog Project, which Ribolla has been developing since early 2017, will offer online dog training videos to shelters, rescues and people adopting dogs. She also wants to make “Dog Trainer in a Box” kits for new pet owners and trainers alike to have the tools and resources they need to work out behavioral issues with their furry friends.

    Read her full story here


    3rd Place: HeadLight - Kennedy Villard

    When Kennedy Villard brought his first car to school in 2017, he was shocked by the parking pandemonium he endured trying to find a spot. After talking to students, he realized others have experienced the same problem. Villard decided to do something about it. Villard, a senior studying broadcast media and international relations, invented an app called Headlight, that helps commuter students find spots efficiently and quickly.

    Read his full story here






 For more information, please contact Amanda McDole



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