Student Challenge

SC Gala 2018

Student Challenge

The NRF Foundation Student Challenge is a business case competition created for undergraduate college students with entrepreneurial spirits, sharp business acumen and creative minds pursuing any degree major relevant to retail such as business, finance, entrepreneurship, merchandising and buying, marketing, public relations and communications, graphic design and more. Since its launch, the NRF Foundation Student Challenge has provided more than $100,000 in scholarship funds to students across the country.

The 2018 scenario:

Students were members of the creative, editorial and merchandise teams at STORY. Rachel Shechtman, the founder and CEO of STORY, asked for new STORY ideas to pitch to potential companies: The Home Depot, IBM and Kroger. The STORY will run for four weeks at any time of the year. Students partnered with two to four other team members to collaborate on a 30-page pitch presentation and a 90-second pitch video to convince the chief marketing officer of their chosen company to select your ‘story.’ Teams had to select one company to focus on and create their own theme for STORY.

Members only

The NRF Foundation Student Challenge is exclusively open to student members of the NRF Student Association through the NRF University Member program. Each member school can submit two teams; interested applicants must check with their school’s NRF Student Association Advisor to see how they are selecting teams to enter. Your advisor will receive specific instructions on how to register entrants for the Student Challenge, and how to upload business plans and pitch videos.  

To join the NRF Student Association as a student member, your school must be a member of NRF. We currently partner with dozens of colleges and universities across the United States to promote careers in retail and provide students with exclusive access to educational, networking and scholarship opportunities. All students at member schools are eligible to join the NRF Student Association for free.

To find your advisor, or for more information, email

“This competition has inspired me to think beyond the status quo. STORY has shown me how innovative retail can be and I’m excited to take what I’ve learned during the Student Challenge and come up with my own inventive ideas.” 
- Kendall McDermott, Columbia College Chicago

  The Student Challenge enforced our idea that that retail industry is consistently evolving, especially as it relates to technology. The challenge also showed how important data is for a growing business and how said data informs retail strategists.”
University of Pennsylvania Team

Winning Student Challenge team shines on HSN
The University of North Texas team honored in the NRF Foundation’s 2016 Student Challenge Competition share their experience selling their winning product – a custom women’s handbag – on the television shopping network, HSN.
SC students on HSN

Other opportunities

Next Generation Scholarship
next gen finalists on stage
The Next Generation Scholarship is the pinnacle achievement for students at NRF University Member schools.
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Student Program
Students at the Student Program
See how a career in retail puts you on the front lines solving complex business problems.
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NRF Student Ambassadors
Students ask questions during the Friday morning opening keynote session at NRFs Student Big Show 2017
NRF Student Ambassadors serve as the liaison between the NRF Foundation and their school.
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