With an innovative proposal addressing a silent public health problem for homeless women, four students from the University of Georgia won the top prize in the fourth annual Public Policy Challenge National Invitational in Philadelphia earlier this month.
[Photo: University of Georgia students, left to right, Mr. Phillip McAuley, Ms. Paula Buchanan, Ms. Brianna Roberts and Ms. Nicole La Tournous won the fourth annual Public Policy Challenge National Invitational in Philadelphia in March]
The winning proposal, called (fem)me, is a plan to distribute feminine hygiene products to homeless and transitional women in Athens and ultimately throughout the state of Georgia. In addition, (fem)me will serve as an education and advocacy organization to raise awareness about the lack of access to feminine hygiene products that vulnerable women experience and the mental and physical health problems that follow.
Master’s students Ms. Brianna Roberts and Mr. Phillip McAuley from the School of Public and International Affairs and Ms. Nicole La Tournous and Ms. Paula Buchanan from the College of Public Health competed in the invitation-only competition. As national winner, the UGA team will receive a $10,000 prize to implement its proposal.
“This opportunity has given all of us hands-on experience throughout every step of the policy process-from problem identification to creating and implementing a policy solution,” Ms. La Tournous said. “Partaking in this challenge has reaffirmed my passion for health policy.”
The Public Policy Challenge, presented by the Fels Institute of Government at the University of Pennsylvania and Governing Magazine, enables students with a passion for public service to design a solution for a public policy issue important in their community and pitch it before a panel of judges.
Speaking on behalf of the competition judges before announcing the winning team, Ms. Julia Burrows, director of the Governing Institute, said that the decision was not an easy one.
“All the teams here were addressing a compelling public policy issue,” Ms. Burrows said, but the winning team “picked an issue that none of us had even thought about, (came) up with a solution that’s replicable and scalable … and had the courage to address an issue that might be uncomfortable to talk about.”