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Diamond Challenge: Venture Competition for High School Students

Diamond Challenge

We had an opportunity to chat with Julie Frieswyk, who is the manager for Youth Programs at the University of Delaware, meaning she works directly with the Diamond Challenge.  With a wonderfully diverse and interesting story herself, Julie explains that The Diamond Challenge was created by the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship as a way to introduce high school students to educational and advancement opportunities.  Part of Julie’s, and the Diamond Challenge’s, dedication to their youth programs stems from the fact that 65% of students in primary school right now will have jobs that don’t currently exist (World Economic Forum).   One particularly great thing for students is that beyond a venture competition, the Diamond Challenge offers courses for students that also offer college credit.  “We want to prepare not only this generation, but future generations on how to navigate the ever-changing landscape,” Julie says with unrelenting passion about the Challenge. On top of this, the Diamond Challenge is a premiere venture competition that attracts attention from all over the world.  Students can enter into two different categories: Business Concept or Social Venture.  Each category has its own individual focus and competition guidelines.  Students must create teams and develop a pitch presentation and are connected with mentors and assistance along every step of the way competing for a share of the $100,000 in grant, scholarship, and prize money.  

Diamond Challenge

Diamond Challenge


Students must be enrolled in some form of secondary education

Category Focus

Students can enter either into two different sections: Business Concept or Social Venture

Snapshot Description

The Diamond Challenge provides a unique opportunity for teens to learn about entrepreneurship while putting their ideas into action. While many entrepreneurship programs focus on principles of small business management, the Diamond Challenge focuses on unleashing creativity, encouraging a mindset of abundance and self-determination, and promoting purposeful entrepreneurial action.


Registration Open Sept. 1st, 2016-Nov. 27th, 2016

Prize Levels

Semifinalists—Trip to University of Delaware with $500 prize plus travel expenses ($1,000 award)

1st Place—$10,000

2nd Place—$6,500

3rd Place—$3,500


Vary across a wide realm of fields

Judging Rounds

3 rounds, all pitch based

Live Event Component?

All semifinalists travel to University of Delaware to present in person and finalists are given the opportunity to present at the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit

Previous Winners

Retracta-Ball Pump—a sports pump with a retractable needle to save from damage or loss

Modern Reflections—creating clothing with a reflective nature that can be viewed from up 70 m away to save pedestrian traffic incidents

Geographic Coverage

Open to anyone in the world (so bring your A-game)



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About the Author: Heather Holst-Knudsen

Heather L Holst-Knudsen, a New York City area native and now resident of Sarasota, FL, is the CEO & Founder of KidBacker and HatchPad. A passionate entrepreneur, Heather has founded and led multiple business units for large organizations. She is founder and former President of Manufacturing Enterprise Communications, a B2B media platform that connects CXOs in manufacturing with senior level leaders in technology around the world. Manufacturing Enterprise Communications was sold to Frost & Sullivan in August 2012. Prior to Manufacturing Enterprise Communications, Heather was founder and President of Managing Automation Media and TechMatch Solutions, all divisions of Thomas Publishing Company in New York City. Heather is a trusted advisor to many top manufacturing and technology organizations including Cisco, AT&T, Google, SAP, Oracle, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Ford, L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and more. She has 25 years of B2B media experience, is a veteran digital media expert, and has been in a C-level leadership role for over 20 years. She has won multiple awards for innovation in media. Heather believes in and respects the imagination, creativity, and fearlessness that young business minds bring to the table and is passionate about unleashing their entrepreneurial skills and spirit so they can own their own destiny. Holst-Knudsen has an SBLL from Georgetown University, Washington, DC. Heather also is Chairman of the Board and Founder of KidBacker Foundation for Entrepreneurship, a new 501c3 that will award seed grants and scholarships to young entrepreneurs to help fund their education and their businesses.

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