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Mary Kay Inc. Announces Winners of NFTE World Series of Innovation Challenge

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Mary Kay Inc., a leading corporate advocate of women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship, announced today its second World Series of Innovation (WSI) Challenge in partnership with Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE). The global educational experience invites young people ages 13-24 to channel their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to find solutions for the biggest challenges facing the world today and help advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while fostering an entrepreneurial mindset.

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In celebration of Creativity and Innovation Day, Mary Kay is proud to announce STEMinists as the winner of the NFTE World Series of Innovation Challenge addressing SDG 5: Gender Equality. (Photo: Mary Kay Inc.)

Mary Kay’s World Series of Innovation Challenge encourages young people from around the world to submit innovative solutions to address Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality. Specifically, this challenge asked students to think about ways to promote workplace equality and ensure equal access to economic opportunity for women and girls. Pre-COVID, decades of data demonstrated the rise of women in the workforce. Even though the wage gap persisted, more women were joining the labor market every year. But pandemic job losses disproportionately impacted women, and since 2020, the uphill climb to workforce equality has grown even steeper.

“Congratulations to the winners of this year’s World Series of Innovation Challenge! Mary Kay knows the importance of entrepreneurship and the role it plays in the world today and in the future, which is why we invest annually in programs and initiatives to help empower women and girls around the world,” said Deborah Gibbins, Chief Operating Officer for Mary Kay Inc. “We are beyond excited for the competitors and winners who tackled this challenge and demonstrated solution-forward thinking and identified great opportunities to achieve gender equality in the workplace.”

NFTE is a global educational nonprofit focused on bringing the power of entrepreneurship to youth in low-income communities. The World Series of Innovation (WSI) Challenge invites corporate sponsored challenges to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

NFTE, which reaches 50,000+ youth worldwide, saw more than 3,000 students of diverse backgrounds submit ideas in this year’s WSI Challenges. More than 400 students participated in the Mary Kay-sponsored challenge. The three winners of Mary Kay’s 2021 Challenge are:

  • First Place: STEMinists created an online portal that connects female professionals to young female STEM students as mentors to bolster female success in STEM fields. Developed by 15-year-old Misaki Nguyen of Silver Creek High School in San Jose, California.
  • Second Place: Pads for Peace, a feminine product subscription box service, donates a box to homeless shelters for every box purchased. Developed by 14-year-olds Ashley Cohen, Olivia Mooney and Ashley Simonian of Brentwood School in Los Angeles.
  • Third Place: Black Girls Mean Business, a virtual summer business program for Black high school girls, matches young professionals with mentors from industry leading businesses. Developed by 17-year-olds Brianna Holmes, Alyssa Torres, Rachel Holmes, and 18-year-old Cherry Zhang of Silver Creek High School in San Jose, California.

“Every year, teams of young people from across the world respond to the call of WSI by tapping into their creativity for innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems,” said Dr. J.D. LaRock, President and CEO of NFTE. "Young people are bold and ambitious and often motivated by what they’re passionate about. WSI offers them an opportunity to develop their ideas and rewards them for thinking creatively about issues such as poverty, equity and inclusion, and social and environmental justice.”

The 2021 NFTE World Series of Innovation is presented by Citi Foundation and features challenges from Bank of the West, Citi Foundation, Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), Mary Kay Inc., Maxar Technologies, PIMCO, and Saint-Gobain.

For more information about the World Series of Innovation and all challenges, visit https://innovation.nfte.com

About Mary Kay

One of the original glass ceiling breakers, Mary Kay Ash founded her beauty company nearly 60 years ago with three goals: to develop rewarding opportunities for women, offer irresistible products and make the world a better place. Over the years, her dream has blossomed into a multibillion-dollar company with millions of independent sales force members in nearly 40 countries. In addition to investing in the science behind beauty and manufacturing cutting-edge products, Mary Kay is committed to empowering women and their families. By supporting cancer research, protecting domestic abuse survivors, beautifying communities and encouraging children to follow their dreams, our company ensures that Mary Kay Ash’s original vision continues to shine today. Learn more at MaryKayGlobal.com.

About NFTE

Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) is a global nonprofit organization that provides high-quality entrepreneurship education to middle and high school students from under-resourced communities, as well as programs for college students and adults. NFTE reaches 50,000+ students annually in 25 states across the U.S. and offers programs in 18 additional countries. We have educated more than a million students through in-school, out-of-school, college, and summer camp programs, offered in person and online. To learn more about how we are promoting inclusive capitalism and building the next generation of diverse entrepreneurs, visit www.nfte.com.

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Contact information

Mary Kay Inc. Global Corporate Communications
marykay.com/newsroom
(+1) 972-687-5332 or media@mkcorp.com

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