The NRF Foundation collaborated with Akola and KPMG for the 2020 Student Challenge Competition. 27 teams from 19 NRF University Member schools competed in this year's Challenge for a chance to receive tuition scholarships and travel to the 2020 NRF Foundation Student Program. For the Challenge, teams acted as members of Akola’s product development team and had to select a retailer, develop a jewelry line and create a 30-page pitch deck and 90-second pitch video to present to buyers at their selected retailer.
Each team was assigned a KPMG mentor to guide and advise them throughout the duration of the competition. Teams' pitches were evaluated by a group of retail executive judges on their research and understanding, creativity and feasibility, visual effectiveness and structure and quality. Seven teams advanced to the semi-finalist, which included Q&A calls with a panel of new retail executive judges.
Three teams advanced to the final round, where they presented live to a third panel of judges at the KPMG offices in New York as part of the NRF Foundation Student Program, January 9-12, 2020.
Each student on the top team received $5,000 scholarship; students on the runner-up team each received a $2,500 scholarship, and third place team members each received a $1,500 scholarship. The top team will be named during the NRF Foundation Honors on Sunday, January 12, in New York.
Cayley Creekmore, Shannon Foote, Anna Tiller, Woodley White
Selected retailer: Free People
KPMG Mentor: Renee Howard
Rina Alshaer, Kayla Fox, Kaitlyn Sifford
Selected retailer: Anthropologie
KPMG Mentor: Elisa Holland
Annie Brennan, Leah Levy, Danielle Talatian, Diana Xiong
Selected Retailer: Tory Burch
KPMG Mentor: Kelly Combs