How to apply for the Student Challenge

Do you think you have what it takes to go all the way in the NRF Foundation Student Challenge like this winning team who’s product idea took them to HSN, the television shopping network? Or, these two teams profiled by NBC 5 Chicago news? Here's how the process will take place this year.

Application Process

The Student Challenge application process consists of three phases. In the first phase, teams are required to submit a 25-30 slide pitch presentation deck and 90-second video presentation that addresses the business challenge. The application deadline for phase one is October 15, 2020. There will be a review period during which teams will be evaluated by retail judges at various companies.

A maximum of 10 teams will be selected to advance to the second phase. In phase two, teams will revise their pitch decks and videos and complete Q&A interviews with a group of retail judges. The interviews and revised pitch decks and videos will be evaluated by a second group of retail judges.

Three teams will be selected to advance to the third and final phase. In this phase, teams will present their pitches live to a panel of executive retail judges.The first-place team will receive a $6,000 tuition scholarship per student, the second-place team will receive $3,500 per student and the third-place team will receive $2,500 per student.

Challenge Timeline

Key dates for the 2020-2021 Student Challenge

May-June 2020: Gather your team of 2 - 4 people and start familiarizing yourself with the case study. Be sure to talk with your advisor about how to get selected as the team(s) to represent your school. Team members must be sophomores, juniors or seniors enrolled full-time at a University Member school at the time when the scholarship is presented in January 2021

June 15, 2020: First checkpoint for schools to notify us regarding their participation by completing this webform. Schools can still join in at any point after this date. More checkpoint dates will be announced throughout the summer for the NRF Foundation to touch base with teams and provide additional information and resources.

October 15, 2020: Deadline to submit pitch presentations and pitch videos. Two teams can apply per school!

November 3, 2020: We’ll announce the semi-finalists who have made it through to the second round. Up to ten teams will advance to this round. All teams will receive their overall score and feedback on their pitch. Semi-finalists will have a chance to revise their pitch decks pitch videos based on feedback from round one judges.

November 20, 2020: Revised pitch presentations and pitch videos due.

November 23 - December 4, 2020: During these two weeks, each Round 2 team will take part in a virtual Q&A session with retail judges, who will ask questions about their pitch presentations.

December 9, 2020: We’ll announce which three teams have made it to the final round. Teams will have a final chance to revise their pitch presentations and videos.

January 2021: Revised pitch presentations and pitch videos will be due, and the final three teams will pitch their concepts live to a panel of retail executives.

Judging Criteria

How your submission will be scored.

Your Submission
Your team must submit a pitch presentation and pitch video; there are formatting and content requirements for entry materials. Please review the 2020 requirements for specific details. 

Round One
During the first round of judging, your pitch presentation and pitch video will be evaluated for content, presentation and delivery.

Semi-Final and Final Rounds
The judging criteria vary for the final two rounds. Teams who advance beyond round one will receive the judging criteria for the next round via email.