Congratulations, Virtual Market Philly, Winners of the 2011 Public Policy Challenge

March 28, 2011

By Ana Liss, MPA '11 and Executive Director of the 2011 Public Policy Challenge

The 2nd Annual Public Policy Challenge is officially at an end after Sunday’s Finals at the National Constitution Center. Five teams delivered fantastic presentations, outlining well thought-out ideas to make Greater Philadelphia a better place. In the end, team Virtual Market Philly emerged as the grand-prize winner of $5,000 – $2,500 of which will be donated to a cause of their choice. Rachel Cahill of Fels, Jennifer Ralston of the School of Social Policy and Practice, Natalie Robles of the City & Regional Planning Program at PennDesign, and Lise Wagnac of Bryn Mawr College developed an idea inspired by an effort to increase access to fresh, healthy food within the “food deserts” of Baltimore (called “Baltimarket”). Their project involves creation of a virtual supermarket – or online grocery store – bringing convenience and affordable prices to “food deserts” in Philadelphia; because 1/3 of Philadelphia’s population lives within short walking distance to libraries, Team Virtual Market Philly proposed that libraries be designated pick-up sites.

All of our teams – FairHealth, WalkPhilly, SubWalk, and Impact Gardens – had great ideas, and the judges took a great deal of time deliberating after the presentations on Sunday in the National Constitution Center’s Kirby Auditorium. During that process, judges had a difficult time coming to a consensus. But ultimately, they determined that Virtual Market should be the winner based on practicality and potential impact of their idea.

Our panel of judges was a thoughtful and powerful group; they included Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley, Pennsylvania State Rep. Dwight Evans, John DiIulio, Professor and Director of the Fox Leadership Program at Penn, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian Tasco, Jeffrey Cooper, VP of Government and Community Affairs at Penn, Donna Cooper, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Pennsylvania Secretary for Planning and Policy, David Eisner, President and CEO of the National Constitution Center and former CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Helen Gym, Board Chair, Asian Americans United and founder of Parents United for Public Education, and Pennsylvania State Rep Chris Ross.

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