SDG Project Pitch Winners Updates Since the 2024 Leadership Summit!

During our 2024 Leadership Summit, we brought back the SDG Project Pitch! Since Leadership Summit, UNA-USA has followed up with the winners to share updates on the winners and how YOU can follow them and their journey.

First place went to Eesha Ande, a freshman at Health Careers High School in San Antonio, Texas, and aspires to be a physician. 

About Eesha Ande’s SDG Project: The Pad Project will install plastic shelves containing free disposable pads, tampons, portable menstrual kits, washable cloth menstrual pads, reusable menstrual cups, and informational resources for teens who require more aid to access period products. The Pad Project will not only provide equal access for all students to menstrual products but also allow students to feel more comfortable with their bodies by implementing sustainable hygiene practices to eliminate plastic waste, benefiting our environment and, therefore, aligning with our SDGs!

What motivated you to enter the competition: When my friend hadn’t been coming to class for two consecutive days, I grew worried about her. I called her after school, and she told me about how her period had just started, how her mother was too sick to go out, how she couldn’t find any feminine hygiene products at her house, and how she had to stay at home as a result. I then realized that there were several other students at my high school with limited access to menstrual hygiene products due to financial, familial, or emergency situations. I had to take action. These girls deserved to care for their bodies as much as anyone else did. And I wanted to bring a sustainable approach to menstrual hygiene products as well. Very few people know that disposable plastic products generate over 200,000 tons of global waste annually, so naturally, I wanted to raise awareness about this “taboo” topic as well as drive action towards a more egalitarian world in sanitary health. This passion for sustainable action is what motivated me to enter the 2023-24 UNA-USA SDG Service Project Pitch competition. I jumped at this wonderful opportunity to connect with creative people, gain feedback on my project idea, and raise awareness over this intersection between gender equality, sanitary health, and environmental sustainability. I’m so grateful that I won 1st place in this competition, and I really appreciate all the support I received at the summit!

Describe the experience for the first round of the project pitch: Although I love public speaking and I gave virtual and in-person presentations before, I was completely unfamiliar with the Pecha Kucha slideshow style that this competition mandated. After some research, I realized that there was a lot of valuable information about my service project that I had to squish into a 3-minute window. So, I researched, revised, and regularly practiced my project pitch before the semi-finals round. Yet, I was still extremely nervous for the virtual first round pitching. However, a few minutes after joining the meeting, I realized that this competition was more about speaking from the heart of a better world that you want to foster, and less about actually winning. There was a diverse range of presenters with their own unique service project ideas, and all the ideas were naturally brilliant in their own way. I gave my pitch with the ultimate motive of getting my passion across to the audience, and I strongly believe that my passion was the reason I advanced to the next round.

Describe the Leadership Summit pitching experience & outcome: A few minutes before my final project pitch presentation, I was stressed about completely messing up. I was also stressed that my stress about completely messing up would lead me to completely mess up. This was normal. I always felt like I was going to throw up before I gave a speech or presentation.

But as I was walking up onto the stage to give my final project pitch presentation for an audience of 300+ people, I didn’t feel the least bit of anxiety; I felt energized. I was confident in my public speaking skills, and I didn’t even care about winning the competition at the moment. I walked up that stage with the sole purpose of spreading my enthusiasm for this service project I was pouring my heart into. I wanted to show what a passionate freshman in high school was capable of!

It was also interesting to hear the other finalists’ pitches as well. Although I already had seen the presentations in our virtual semi-finals, it was a different experience to be there in-person. Several of the presenters had established a non-profit organization based on their service project, and their service project plans truly represented their passions and experience.

When I found out that I was awarded as the 1st place winner for the 2023-24 UNA-USA SDG Service Project Pitch competition, I was elated and grateful. I still am! Without all the caring support I received from all of these amazing UNA-USA members, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And, although a part of me was frustrated that there wasn’t enough funding for all finalists at the summit, I knew that through hard-work and dedication, anyone can raise funds to conduct a service project that they’re passionate about!

How the project is doing since Leadership Summit: I haven’t had much time to really sit down and work on the service project since the leadership summit, since I got caught up in wrapping my school year up and tying all loose ends. However, the plan details and logistics are all laid out, and now the resources need to be purchased and the service project executed! After the period product shelves are installed and established at my school, I plan on expanding the project to other schools through social media campaigns, outreach events, fundraisers, and more!

Next Steps: I have gathered a team of like-minded high schoolers who are interested in building this project as well, and we plan on working with organizations like the Medical Reserve Corps, Girl Up, Egal Pads On A Roll, and more! As well as raising funds for sustainable period product shelves at schools all over our community, we want to raise awareness about sustainability in menstrual products by presenting at middle and high school health outreach events and providing environmental-friendly hygiene resources to our local domestic violence shelters. If you would like to receive updates on the project’s progress, please shoot an email to

How people can follow along on my journey: I am always looking for more opportunities to collaborate and receive ideas for the betterment of this service project! If you would like to learn more about the project, collaborate, provide ideas, or simply follow along on my journey, please shoot a quick email to If you support this project, you support gender equality, environmental sustainability, and equal access to sanitary health resources for all!


Second place went to Kat Hoelck, a Creative Director and Brand Strategist In New York City focused on pivoting the fashion industry towards circularity and the Sustainable Development Goals.

About Kat Hoelck’s SDG Project: As the Founding Partner of ANYBAG, Kat leverages industry partnerships and community service to keep single use soft plastic out of landfill. In her work as an Executive Educator at Parsons School for Design, Kat helps global brands evaluate which levers they can pull to optimize their sustainability efforts and educates their design teams and C-Suites on how to implement the plans. Kat blends her industry experience, academic excellence, and creative storytelling to get better buy-in for the SDGs.

What motivated you to enter the competition: I was very proud to speak to the attendees at the UNA-USA Leadership Summit about my service project through ANYBAG, short for A New York Bag. We have diverted over 800,000 single use plastic bags from entering landfills, and have activated over 26 schools in New York City to join in the efforts. The artisans in our midtown Manhattan factory are paid an above living wage to transform this material into something of extended value. We are passionate about our mission to re:imagine waste, and sharing this vision with young people is so inspiring in both directions. Through our school programs, we teach the students about circular economy, mission-led entrepreneurship, and how we can use our creativity to solve problems in the world.

I was compelled to enter the pitch competition because I love to share the work we are doing. I am grateful to UNA-USA for extending their platform to me so that I could get the word out on the work we do. I am honored to have had the opportunity to speak to the room and am grateful to have been chosen for a micro-grant.

How the project is doing since Leadership Summit: In the weeks since the Summit, I have met with a colleague who has shared his experience on scaling school programs that his NGO does, and he has given us a blueprint on how we may reach more classrooms with our mission. This micro grant will enable us to develop this programming and not only reach the two schools that we’d allotted for in the funding, but potentially extend well beyond through the development of evergreen asynchronous learning materials.

How people can follow along on my journey: If you’d like to learn more about the work we do at ANYBAG, please feel free to follow along on Instagram [@anybagproject], to connect with me on LinkedIn, or to email me at with your ideas.


Third place went to Ashley Parow a second-year Political Science and History student at the University of South Florida.

About Ashley Parow’s SDG project: With a strong commitment to human rights, Ashley serves as the President and founder of the sole anti-trafficking entity at USF, pioneering accessible prevention education for all students. Currently, Ashley is spearheading a short-film initiative shedding light on trafficking in Tampa and empowering students to contribute to the cause that we will showcase at our Anti-Human Trafficking Conference in January 2025. Students Against Trafficking firmly believes in the transformative power of education for social justice. They staunchly support survivors and fellow activists in our community dedicated to eradicating human trafficking and contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 16, Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions.

What motivated you to enter the competition: Winning third place in the SDG Project Pitch competition at the UNA Leadership Summit was a truly transformative experience. My motivation to enter the competition stemmed from a deep commitment to addressing Tampa’s significant problem of human trafficking and my involvement with the UNA USA. The first round of pitching was intense but invigorating, allowing me to refine my ideas and receive valuable feedback to be able to compete at the Leadership Summit.

Describe the Leadership Summit pitching experience & outcome: Pitching at the Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. was an incredible opportunity to present my project on a larger stage and engage with thoughtful leaders and experts in the field. The support and recognition received have been immensely encouraging and have propelled my project forward. I particularly would like to thank Lady Tee Thompson for her support and dedication to my project and anti-trafficking. She is truly an inspiration and a mentor in the field of anti-trafficking.

How the project is doing since Leadership Summit: Since the Leadership Summit, I have begun organizing the funding for several events for Students Against Trafficking that aim to raise awareness and mobilize action within the USF community. The journey is ongoing, and I am currently planning more initiatives to expand our reach and impact. Currently our biggest event is scheduled for October in which we are partnering with Tampa nonprofit Ignite Her. We are planning a self-defense class and seminar in recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness month. While our main focus at Student’s Against Trafficking is prevention education, we also want to recognize the intersectionality of gender violence and trafficking.

How people can follow along on my journey: For those interested in following our progress and getting involved, updates will be regularly posted on our organization’s Instgram [@usf.sat]  and website. Your support and involvement are crucial as we continue to fight against human trafficking and work towards a safer, more just world.