ImproveNU: Northwestern’s ‘Shark Tank’

When Sid Ahuja transferred to Northwestern from the University of Texas in 2017, he brought with an idea to empower his fellow students to make change in their daily lives.

"Think 'Shark Tank' for Northwestern," he said.

ImproveNU, organized by Associated Student Government (ASG), is a pitch competition that gives undergraduates the freedom to think up new ways to help enhance the student experience on campus.


Apply now

Northwestern students are encouraged to apply now to compete on Feb. 24 for more than $10,000 in implementation funds.

An info session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 14 in 2335 Kresge Hall. The application deadline is Feb. 15.

ImproveNU is unusual in that contestants get to pitch directly to administrators and leaders who are immersed in the topics and issues under consideration. Now in its second year, the competition will have five pitch tracks, including wellness, academics and inclusion.


Last year’s winner

In last year's inaugural event, ResilientNU won the top prize and has gone on to expand its social and emotional wellness program, working with staff to teach students life skills on a peer-to-peer basis. Already, three cohorts have completed the four-week training course.

“From the day they join our program, students are investing in their mental health,” said junior Neha Basti, a Brady Scholar in Ethics and Civic Life and founder of ResilientNU.

“They form connections that remain not just for a quarter but for the rest of their college careers.”

With students and administrators working closely together, ImproveNU is a new step in the evolution of the student experience at Northwestern, according to Ahuja and his fellow ASG members.

The Northwestern community is invited to attend the event, which features a semifinal round at 8 a.m. Feb. 24 in 2415 Kresge Hall and the finals at 1 p.m. in the Block Museum of Art.

Support and additional funding for ImproveNU are provided by the Office of the President and the Division of Student Affairs.


Members of last year's winner, ResilientNU, are Samantha Conway of Student Affairs, Neha Basti and Tejas Sekhar. Photo by Michael Goss.