Perry students to compete in Hult Prize regionals in San Francisco

Travel expenses also a challenge for Hult Prize 2019 Challenge competitors

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PHS grads Jennifer Fuentes, Giovanny Fuentes and Jonathan Reyes are completing Saturday in San Francisco in the Hult Prize 2019 Challenge.

PHS grads Jennifer Fuentes, Giovanny Fuentes and Jonathan Reyes are completing Saturday in San Francisco in the Hult Prize 2019 Challenge.

Three Perry High School graduates have been selected to compete in the regional finals of the Hult Prize 2019 Challenge to be held this Saturday in San Francisco, but they need a little help with travel expenses.

The Hult Prize Challenge, known as the Nobel Prize for students, is an annual global event in which teams compete to solve a problem. This year’s Challenge problem is solving youth unemployment.

There are four rounds in the Hult Prize with nearly 1,000 teams competing in the regional finals, but that number will drop to 40 in the third round, held in London. The number of teams will narrow to just six in the Hult Prize finals, staged in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York. The Hult Prize winners receive $1 million in prize money to help start their business.

PHS grads Jennifer Fuentes and Giovanny Fuentes are the first DMACC students to complete for the Hult Prize. They partnered with fellow PHS grad Jonathan Reyes, who now attends Iowa State University, and the three formed a business called Unity.

Unity will teach people to collect cigarettes, the number one litter item in the world, and then recycle them into plastic pelts, which are in demand for manufacturing process such as 3-D printing and extrusion manufacturing.

They also plan to expand to a wider variety of litter, which they will recycle and transform in chairs, benches and other practical items. They plan to sell these items to needy companies. All of this is part of their plan to help solve youth unemployment and protect the natural enviroment.

Reyes is a DACA student who can attain his citizenship through their business, Unity, if it grows large enough. Rodrigo Fuentes is a member of the U.S. military, but he hopes to stay and help Unity grow. All three students graduated from Perry High School and are proud members of the community.

The team started Jan. 12 and were the DMACC campus runners up. They were later accepted into the regional competition for the Hult Prize. Their plan is to start Unity and employ yong people both overseas and in the U.S.

The first area they plan to begin hiring workers is Brazil, where 51 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

Reyes and the Fuentes plan to leave Friday for the Hult Prize. Due to the large number of students who are competing in the regional finals, the Perry team has not received any help to cover  travel expenses, so they set up a GoFundMe page that they hope their community will use to support their efforts.

“It’s important,” said Jennifer Fuentes, “that people donate because we feel it’s a great way for them to show their pride in their community, not just the state of Iowa but in Perry itself.”

The team plans to post regular updates on both their GoFundMe Page and their Facebook page and to give more in-depth details on what all they plan to do accomplish with Unity.

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