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Upstream Kickoff!

October 28, 2015

Upstream kickoff 058
Matt Flagler

Cheers of excitement, tears of joy and handshakes were the reactions as Upstream participants were unveiled by their coaches at last night’s kickoff event at the University of North Florida.

Upstream, a pilot program started this spring, calls for UNF students to submit ideas for social change that use fresh, creative and strategic solutions. If selected, students are then paired with a Stein Fellowship coach to hone, and ultimately, implement their idea.

Sixteen project applications with ideas to impact the stigma of mental health, education and income were narrowed down to 10 teams who were matched with their coaches at last night’s reception.

Chris Warren, director of government affairs at UNF, and Michelle Braun, United Way of Northeast Florida’s president, opened the evening speaking about the importance of young adults power to be the force for social innovation. The microphone was then turned over to David Miller, co-founder and CEO of Brightway Insurance, which has committed to fund this pilot program.

“This is about thinking smartly,” Miller said to the students. “You are the energy to create change. Money is not the greatest resource!”

Miller encouraged students to not be afraid to take an idea and run with it, even if the idea might fail.

nancy's phone 2074“Our company started with just three people and an idea,” Miller said. “Now, we’re a company of 700 employees.”

Following Miller, Matt Flagler, director of franchise development at Brightway Insurance, spoke on behalf of Stein Fellowship alumni, who are serving as coaches for the 10 teams.

Stein Fellows work with fellow business leaders and Achievers For Life middle-school students to learn and carry out ways to make the community stronger. For Upstream, fellows can take on a new role, stepping in to help UNF Upstream students prepare their project game plan.

After each team match-up was revealed, they couldn’t wait to get started. Many of the teams stayed into the evening, getting right down to work. The teams are:

Stein Coach Challenge Students
Desirae Royal Community Health Disparities Brittany Humphries
Kristen Cortazzo
Kara Grogan
Trevor Kennedy
Matt Flagler Mental Health Mary Jane Malone
Maura Johnson
Nicole San Jose
Marcus Rowe Mental Health Katherine Sanchez
Katie Kilpatrick
Haiden Baier
Sara Ley Mental Health Dayna Cohen
Jessica Stephens
SuDelta Henson Mental Health Ana Felix Torres
Cutler Knupp Community Health Disparities Adam Kohlruss
Melissa Adams Education Courtney Lynch
Jeff Smith Education Sarah Rose Stewart
Mindy Mayfield Community Health Disparities Amulya Mandavalli
Sean Magee Income Javon Knight


For those not chosen for this round of Upstream, Coretta Hill, vice president of volunteer and community engagement at United Way of Northeast Florida, will match them with other United Way initiatives.

If you would like to become involved with United Way of Northeast Florida’s many volunteer programs and initiatives, you can reach out to Hill at corettah@nulluwnefl.org.

Stay tuned for updates as the Upstream projects move forward!