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Kroger Foundation, Thurgood Marshall College Fund announce scholarship recipients

Pitch competition winners were awarded $74,000 in scholarships.

The Kroger Foundation announced the scholarship award recipients and entrepreneurial pitch competition results from its second annual Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge in collaboration with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

The Innovation Challenge is made possible by the $1 million Build it Together grant awarded to TMCF from the Foundation's Racial Equity Fund. It supports TMCF's effort to adapt its successful innovation and entrepreneurship model to focus on food insecurity and food waste.

The Innovation Challenge is a three-day in-person business pitch competition where students from Historically Black College and University 1890 land-grant institutions combine the adapted Innovation and Entrepreneurship model with support for the winning team's ideas, leveraging expertise from Kroger and the Kroger Foundation. Teams work together to design solutions for three challenges aligning with Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste mission.

"The talent and innovation from students in this annual pitch competition continues to amaze us," said Keith Dailey, Kroger's group vice president of corporate affairs and president of the Kroger Foundation. "These bright students are the future of the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste promise, and we are so proud to collaborate with them and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to offer scholarships that drive our commitment to creating more equitable communities that are free of hunger and waste."

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There were 36 students and seven teams participating. All teams received $15,000 in project development funds for their institution. Overall, a total of $74,000 in scholarships were awarded in addition to tech prizes.

The winners and grant recipients include:

First Place: University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff and Tuskegee University tied for first place, with each team member awarded $7,500.

University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff Team Members: Perry Williams, Larry Culclager, L'Kenna Whitehead, Charlese De-Anna Colen and Jvon Allen.

Case Study: How can Kroger encourage, motivate, incentivize, or reward its customers to reduce household food waste?

Tuskegee University Team Members: Olivia Bowles, Chera Howard, Maxwell Saine, Hali Braynon and Carmen McMeans.

Case Study: Provide a sustainable solution that will help eliminate food or operational waste in Kroger's supply chain.

Second Place: Southern University with each team member awarded $5,000.

Team Members: Rashard Grace, Ahlayna Calhoun, Faith Woods, Nalone Sumo, Frankie Dorsey and Robert Easly (faculty).

Case Study: What can Kroger do to encourage healthier choices and be a leader in the Food as Medicine concept?

Third Place: MetaVerse Scholars with each team member awarded $2,500.

Team Members: Anita Bozhko, Alabama A&M University; Samuel Dixon, North Carolina A&T State University; Obieze Udemadu, North Carolina A&T State University; Adeleye Mesogboriwon, Edward Waters College; and Mitrick (TJ) Johnson, Alabama A&M University.

Alternates: Kashif Alston, Bluefield State College and Dailynn Thomas, Southern University A&M College.

Case Study: What can Kroger do to encourage healthier choices and be a leader in the Food as Medicine concept?

Most Outstanding Players: Edwin Crittendon II, Prairie View A&M University; Sherman Cravens, Langston University and Kashif Alston, Bluefield State.

Award: $1,000 for each team member.

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"Kroger's Zero Hunger | Zero Waste Innovation Challenge program is an important part of preparing our talented students for the real world by offering them opportunities to make a significant societal contribution while helping Kroger accomplish its goal," Harry Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, said. "In addition, they are exposed to new technologies in the web 3.0 space. These amazing students work together to solve real-world challenges. They never cease to impress us with their ingenuity and initiative. We're proud to once again be part of this program, amplifying incredible, untapped talent."

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In 2021, as part of Kroger's Framework for Action: Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Kroger allocated $5 million to The Kroger Co. Foundation to establish a new Racial Equity Fund with the vision to create more equitable communities by being the spark that ignites innovative solutions. In 2022, the company contributed an additional $5 million to the Fund to further advance race equity in America.

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