Student Ryann Roberts and Team Win More Than $10K in GW Business Plan Competition

Ryann Roberts, MPH in health policy student, and her team competed in GW’s annual Business Plan Competition hosted by GW’s Office of Entrepreneurship on Friday, April 11 for a chance to win a portion of the $101,000 prize money awarded to entrants in nine categories. The funds, available through a generous grant from Richard and Annette Scott, allow winners to launch and operate their ventures while maintaining complete control of their business through the issuance of non-equity (for the university) based grants as prize money.

Roberts and her teammates represented GW’s chapter of Common Sense Action (CSA), a grassroots organization seeking to bring Millennials to the policymaking table by advocating for politics that improve the lives of America’s youth, in the competition. CSA was started on the campus of Brown University and GW’s chapter was launched this semester. The group focuses on policy development, mobilizing its 25-chapter network across the nation and getting Millennials to vote in primary elections. Unlike other Millennial policy groups, the organization is strictly bipartisan, representing Democrats and Republicans equally.

CSA team members included Sam Gilman, Lane Farrell, Ryann Roberts and Jevin Hodge 

Roberts served as the director of policy on her team, along with Sam Gilman, CSA CEO and founder, GW student Lane Farrell, director of digital communications, CCAS BS ’15, and GW student Jevin Hodge, director of public relations, CCAS BA ’16. The group started preparing for the competition in January, and spent their time fine tuning and evaluating the direction CSA should take to make the biggest impact on creating a culture of solutions-oriented politics. The team’s work paid off, and they were awarded the “Best non-profit social venture,” earning $7,500. The team also earned the Audience Choice award from those who voted for them on Twitter using the hashtag #GWCSA, earning the team an additional $3,000. The $10,500 awarded will go to events, activities, research, voter drives, funding for its 25 chapters and funding to expand to 40 chapters on 40 college campuses.

“This award shows that GW believes in social innovation, believes that the political system can be fixed and believes in the power of Millennials. We are extremely excited to use the award money to continue to bring Millennials to the policymaking table, building a megaphone for our beliefs,” Roberts said. 


Roberts pictured with GW President Steven Knapp.