Rules & Guidelines
Published on October 28, 2015 by Pauline Chan
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Prizes will be awarded based on the quality of the presentation, as well as the social impact, feasibility and sustainability of the Signature Project (criteria outlined above).

1st place: $5000

2nd place: $2500

3rd place: $1000

What is a Signature Project?
At ThinkTank Learning, we believe that everyone has the innate ability to contribute meaningfully to society. That is why we encourage our students to complete Signature Projects. A Signature Project is a student led initiative that offers an innovative solution to a major social issue in fields such as education, health, the environment, or the economy. A Signature Project should:

  • Address a need in a given community by inventing a new service, product, or approach (or improving an existing one).
  • Focus on marginalized or disadvantaged populations, or problems they face which are not being sufficiently addressed.
  • Use practical, innovative and sustainable approaches to benefit society and/or the environment.
  • Leverage business principles and technological tools in order to create a strong, sustainable, and ultimately impactful solution.
  • Be motivated by genuine passion for making a difference and creating positive change.
  • Inspire others to support the cause.

This year, we are challenging ALL Bay Area students to pitch their Signature Project idea at our first annual PitchFEST: Fostering ‘Humentality’ in Entrepreneurship. Winners will receive funding from ThinkTank Learning to further their projects. Please see below for contest details.

Guidelines for Submitting Signature Project Concepts:

Submissions are to be uploaded to by 11:59pm on AUGUST 26th, 2016.

  1. Visit and download the Project Entry Application Form. Type your responses to the questions and upload the completed document onto the website in .doc(x) or .pdf format. You may also submit an OPTIONAL 5 minute video submission.
  2. To eliminate the potential for judging bias, teams must avoid disclosing the names of the schools they represent in their written or video submissions and during their pitches/presentations.
  3. Teams must be comprised of middle or high school students (6th – 12th grade) from the Bay Area of California (including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties).
  4. Only Signature Projects that have been conceived solely by the members of the team may be submitted.
  5. Each team (and therefore each participant) may only enter one Signature Project concept for review.
  6. Judges reserve the right to disqualify any teams or participants who violate these rules or the spirit of the competition. Questions about the competition should be submitted to the contact page at

Up to 25 teams will be selected and notified via email. All finalists will be expected to attend the Pan Asian Education Expo on AUGUST 27, 2016 in order to present their Signature Project concepts live in front of a panel of judges. Several finalists will be selected as the winners, and awarded cash prizes in order to pursue implementation of their Signature Projects (details below).

What to include in Signature Project concepts:

In addition to contact information for the student and/or team, the best Signature Project concept submissions will offer compelling descriptions of:

  1. The social/economic/environmental issue being addressed
  2. The solution you will deliver
  3. Who or what will benefit from the project and how
  4. The way(s) in which your solution is better than existing offerings
  5. Your plan for sustainability of your proposed solution (expected costs, budget, fundraising and marketing strategies, and long ­term goals and impact)
  6. The strengths and expertise of the team
  7. Any other evidence you have that shows your concept will work

Judging Process for Signature Project Concepts:

Panels of judges will score all Signature Project concepts on two criteria: (1) social impact, (2) feasibility & sustainability.

Social Impact: The extent to which the Project makes a positive impact on people or the environment.

  • Does the Project aim to address an important area of need?
  • Does the Project deliver meaningful benefits – both immediate and long ­term – to people, communities, social systems or the environment?
  • How many people will benefit from the Project, and how big will the benefit be for each?
  • Does the Project appear to be the most effective and efficient way to solve the problem?
  • Does the team demonstrate a strong understanding of the problem?

Feasibility & Sustainability: The degree to which the concept can actually work, the team’s ability to execute the project, and how the Project is expected to continue to deliver a positive impact in the future.

  • Is the Project technically possible?
  • Does the team have a specific and realistic action plan?
  • Are there communication and distribution channels readily available for reaching people or organizations relevant to the project?
  • Does the team possess the skills and other resources necessary to carry out their Project? If not, can they acquire them quickly?
  • Are team members passionate about the idea, suggesting persistence through inevitable difficulties?
  • Will funding for the Project be enough to at least cover its operating costs for the foreseeable future?
  • Has the team anticipated potential challenges or competition?

NOTE: Although factors like creativity, writing quality, and presentation style are not included as judging criteria for written or video submissions, all are likely to improve the judge’s’ understanding of and confidence in the Signature Project itself.

For more details about how judges will evaluate projects, please see the Score Sheet and the Project Score Breakdown documents at

Competition Day:

Students should dress and conduct themselves professionally, and plan to be on site for the entire competition day.
What to wear: business professional attire

  1. Men: suit (and tie), neutral/dark colors
  2. Women: suit, business dress or skirt, neutral/dark colors

What to bring:

  1. Each contestant should be prepared to participate in ALL competition rounds. No props will be used for the first round. For the second and final round, teams may use visual props such as PowerPoint, videos, prototypes or handouts.
  2. Each contestant will have a table to display their project and where people can vote for the project. Please bring whatever materials you need for your booth, e.g., display board, posters, flyers, handouts. We will provide the vote box.
  3. Physical props: you may use the same props from your booth and/or additional props.
  4. Technology: If you plan to use technology in your presentation, you must inform us by AUGUST 15 so that we can prepare the required technology in advance. Let us know at if you have any questions about which formats are acceptable.

Event itinerary:

  1. Check­-in at the registration booth.
  2. Set up your project display.
  3. Head to the Ready Room to prepare your pitches! Someone will be there to answer questions and help you with your preparations.
  4. First competition round: All teams will give a live, 3 ­minute “elevator pitch” to a panel of judges. No presentation tools will be used for this portion. Judges will choose five finalists and audience members will vote on a sixth finalist to move on to the second round.
  5. After the first round, head back to your display to present your project to audience members and gain votes. You are free to mingle with people to garner interest.
  6. Competition finalists will be revealed at the start of the second round. Five teams will be chosen by the judges and one team by popular vote.
  7. Second competition round: The final six teams will give an 8­ minute presentation of their project. Teams may utilize presentation tools such as PowerPoint, as well as physical props, such as posters, prototypes or handouts. The presentation may include new or additional content to elaborate on their plans and demonstrate in more detail the social impact, feasibility, and sustainability of their project. Presentations will be followed by a Q&A and critique session from the judging panel, who will then choose the winners.


  1. ALL Pitch Fest contestants must be present for the entire duration of the event. All contestants must be present during the pitches, even when your team is not presenting.
  2. Dress and conduct yourselves professionally and respectfully at all times. Offensive remarks, inappropriate content, or berating competitors will not be tolerated and will result in disqualification.
  3. Please be ON TIME for check-­in and before your pitch. You will be given a detailed schedule before the event. Teams who are absent or late will be disqualified.