VU grad student wins ‘Business for Good’ contest

A Vanderbilt graduate student has won the first Business for Good competition for PERTS South, a company that provides web-based educational interventions that change students' mindsets about school.

Alyssa Van Camp, a graduate student at Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development, will receive a $5,000 grant from the Social Enterprise Alliance, an all-inclusive branding package from Proof Branding, five hours of legal support from the Baker Donelson law firm and a three-month seat in the Nashville Entrepreneur Center’s accelerator program, where the team will receive expert advice on its business model and start-up support.

“Currently, we’re exploring the commercial feasibility of the PERTS intervention in schools here in Nashville,” Van Camp said in a release. “Our goal is to bring this evidence-based solution to struggling students in our community so that it can have a sustainable, scalable impact on students outside of the research context.”

PERTS South is a collaboration between Nashville non-profit Wheelhouse Project and the Stanford University Psychology Department’s PERTS research lab, which provides online evidence-based educational interventions to improve students’ motivation and mindset about school.

Headed by Van Camp, the organization will collaborate with Dave Paunesku, the founder and director of the PERTS lab at Stanford.

First runner-up in the competition was Sarah Johnson of Nashville Grown, the city’s first urban food hub. Nashville Grown is building a local food distribution system that enables Nashville-area farms to compete with conventional food distributors.

Second runner-up was Darrell Hawks of Project Return, which provides immediate, temporary employment to persons returning to the Nashville community from incarceration when the threat of recidivism is highest and prepare them to be permanently employed and productive members of the community.