We believe students can change the world. optiMize unleashes that potential by creating inspiring environments for students to take action on self-directed projects that work toward a better future. As technology takes increasingly takes over our lives, we believe in the value of getting together in person to make things happen.
Jeff Sorensen, Tim Pituch, Angelle Kettlewell, and Michael Maiorano co-founded optiMize in 2012 while they were students at Michigan. Since then, optiMize has become a supportive community for students and mentors working collaboratively. We're now 2000 students strong and growing, and new people join us every day!
Each summer, we fund student teams to work full-time on their projects as optiMize Fellows. These teams are already making a big impact: Since we funded them with their first-ever $5000 in 2013, the Michigan Urban Farming Initiative has transformed a city block and provided fresh produce to thousands of Detroit residents. ReSource Fund created a financial coaching model that the United Way picked up and scaled across our county. Blueprints for Pangaea has distributed more than $2 million of wasted medical supplies to hospitals in need. These are just a few examples—in total, we’ve funded 65 student-led project teams over five cohorts.
Before being funded, student teams participate in the optiMize Social Innovation Challenge—our co-curricular program that provides workshops, mentorship, and resources to grow an idea into real impact. So far, the Challenge has helped 2000 students develop 300 social impact projects. If you can think of something positive you want to do, even if you don't think of it as a "startup", we can almost guarantee it will fit with optiMize!
We hope you'll join us and start optiMizing!