United Way Emerging Leaders Society (ELS) Case Competition?

The ELS Case Competition offers a unique eight-week opportunity for young leaders and executives to work together to solve a community issue. Teams will be immersed in learning about a particular challenge and positioned to identify creative solutions, develop personally and professionally, sharpen their virtual presence, and form an instant network of individuals with diverse backgrounds and leadership styles.

ELS created this “Shark Tank” style competition to allow for innovative thinking, problem-solving and professional development, all while offering up ideas that may have a long-term impact on our community.

All teams pitch to a panel of judges in rounds one and two. Three teams proceed to the final round.

Funds raised, and the case itself, will focus on addressing local hunger and access to food.

Learn more by contacting Rebekah Castagno at rcastagno@unitedwayinc.org.

2022 KEY DATES: 


CASE COMPETITION | Sept. 20 – Nov. 15



FINAL ROUND  | Nov. 15

6:00-7:30 p.m. | Winners will be announced!

Media Implementation Sponsor:

Silver Sponsors:

Bronze Sponsors:

HYPE Logo Full Color White Background

Thank You to our Partners:

Connecticut Department of AgricultureConnecticut FoodshareUrban Alliance 

Participating Teams:

Aetna, a CVS Company | Cigna | Comcast | Hartford Healthcare | HSB |  UConn School of Business

What is the ELS Case Competition?

Why Sponsor the ELS Case Competition?


"La Cocina de mi Abuela" - PSA (Spanish)

"La Cocina de mi Abuela" - PSA (English)

2021 ELS Case Competition Recap

On September 21, 2021 seven teams of emerging leaders, across the country, were paired with executive mentors to develop innovative solutions to address a real community challenge. Over the course of eight weeks.

Their Challenge?

Create a United Way public awareness campaign to raise visibility of local resources that address food insecurity in the Greater Hartford region and focuses on:

  • Increasing understanding of publicly available services
  • Increasing understanding of quality of services
  • Bringing awareness to health outcomes, equity, and how communities of color are often disproportionately impacted by inequitable access to healthy food
  • Reducing stigma and stereotypes associated with receiving assistance

September 21 – October 19, teams and mentors received the challenge, attended weekly development workshops and met regularly to prepare their recommendations and pitches for Round One.

October 19, all teams pitched their proposals to a panel of judges in Round One and received feedback from our judges.

November 2, all teams sharpened their pitches and returned to present in Round Two. Judges provided feedback to all teams and selected three to advance to the Final Round.

November 16, Three teams made their final pitches to a new panel of judges. Who would be the team to “Crack the Case”?

December 7, In the only event open to the public, Teams, Mentors, Judges, Sponsors, Partners, Volunteers, friends and family came together to celebrate our teams, the relationships developed and to find out who won. Mentors shared “wow factors” about their teams during the recognition ceremony before Head Judge, Joe Gianni announced the 2021 Champions.

2021 ELS Case Competition

This 25 minute video captures the purpose, participants, and highlights of the 2021 #ELSCaseComp experience. Produced by Mike Marques, Marques Creative. Learn more about the unique work of Marques Creative at https://www.marquescreative.com. To learn more about United Way Emerging Leaders Society (ELS), follow us on social @uwelsct or visit our website.

Three Finalists

—Excerpt from Steam United’s La Cocina de mi Abuela Public Awareness Campaign—

Hartford has one of the highest concentrations of ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) families with food insecurity among the areas served by United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut. The many food pantries and resources in this area remain under-utilized, especially by Spanish-speaking families, due to factors including differing hours of operation, documentation requirements and the pride of those who would be served.

We estimate 9,000 households of the Hartford Hispanic community are in the ALICE category. Our target geographic area of Frog Hollow, Barry Square and Behind the Rocks neighborhoods, are 70% Hispanic, with a concentration of approximately 4,000 ALICE households.

Through our campaign, La Cocina de mi Abuela, United Way can have the greatest exposure per dollar and improve the rate at which Spanish-speaking ALICE families use food-sharing services by enhancing awareness and acceptance.

Our campaign is tailored to increase familiarity, reduce stigma, and streamline the experience for new and existing patrons of food pantries. We aim to achieve this using a “Spanish-First” printed and word-of-mouth distribution via faith-based organizations and schools, combined with social media outreach through United Way’s social media channels. The focus of our campaign will tie in to CT Foodshare’s annual Walk Against Hunger, highlighting at least one local food pantry and host the festive unveiling of a community mural delivered in partnership with a local Neighborhood Revitalization Zone (NRZ). 

2021 ELS Case Competition Judges

2021 ELS Case Competition Mentors

2021 ELS Case Competition
Steering Committee

2021 ELS Case Competition
Nonprofit Partners

Special thanks to Stephanie Berman, HR Coordinator, HSB, for her leadership with the marketing and communications strategy.

Watch the 2019 ELS Case Competition
recap video