2021 UNA-USA Case Competition

Using Technological Innovation to Help Children Through the COVID-19 Pandemic


Case Competition Instructions

UNA-USA, in collaboration with UNICEF USA’s Trick-or-Treat Initiative, is hosting a national case competition for UNA-USA members to develop their skills and expand their knowledge of UNICEF’s global initiatives to protect and support children throughout the pandemic.

Students are also highly encouraged to leverage their increased knowledge of UNICEF initiatives to participate in and recruit others to participate in UNICEF USA’s Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF initiative.

Participants may register in teams or as individuals. Individual registrants will be grouped in teams of four, where they will be encouraged to work together and bring their diverse backgrounds and experience to create a case presentation. Once teams have been formed, participants will attend a skill-building workshop led by UNA-USA’s 10th Youth Observer to the UN, Cynthia Yue. In addition, a representative from UNICEF USA will share background on UNICEF’s current initiatives in order to provide a strong basis of knowledge for the competitors.

All participants will have the opportunity to present their cases to a panel of National Council Members from UNA-USA. Teams that advance to the final round will present their case to UNICEF representatives. The final winning team at the national level will have their presentation published on the UNA-USA website and will be invited to present their case at a national UNA-USA event.

The aim of this competition is for teams to critically examine new technological advancements and their implications in assisting with the problems facing children during the Covid-19 pandemic. Teams will also be asked to connect their technological advancement to one of the Sustainable Development Goals, and indicate how the technology can assist in achieving that SDG. Teams will draw on the current UNA-USA Global Goals Ambassadors for their specific SDG as a resource. Teams should evaluate current initiatives from UNICEF, as well as the problems facing children that have been caused or exacerbated by the global pandemic.

For the competition, teams should prepare a 6 minute presentation, followed by 5-6 minutes of questions from the judges. The UNA-USA judging panel will utilize the rubric below to determine which teams have created the strongest case presentations.

Case Competition Judging Rubric

  • Team has selected a technological advancement that can be used to mitigate the effects of a certain issue affecting children during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Team has prepared a presentation that clear, well-thought out, and has a focused point
  • Team has evaluated the technology for strengths and weaknesses to show critical analysis of the issue
  • Team has addressed potential for the technological advancement to be scaled beyond their country of focus
  • Team has evaluated the project for its ability to reach targets of a Sustainable Development Goal
  • Team has selected a Sustainable Development Goal
  • Team was prepared to respond to judges’ questions


  • October 8 – October 20: Registration period
  • October 21: Individual competitors assigned to teams
  • October 22, 3:30 – 5pm: Skills building and prompt explanation workshop
  • November 18: First Round Judges Panel
  • November 19: Finalists announced
  • Mid-December: Final 5 teams advance to UNICEF judging panel
  • December 17: Winner announced
  • 2022: Winners present at high-level UNA event




Case Competition Prompt

How can UNICEF utilize technological innovation to help children through the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 has disrupted the entire globe, exacerbating existing issues and creating new unforeseen challenges. From exacerbating gender inequality to hindering access to quality education to highlighting inequities in the digital divide, the pandemic has imposed obstacles to our world on nearly every front–including with UNICEF’s programmatic work as it seeks to reach our world’s most vulnerable children. For the 2021 National Case Competition, participants are asked to build a case on the topic: How can UNICEF utilize technological innovation to help children through the COVID-19 pandemic? Participants may choose to focus on either a specific sector (e.g. UNICEF’s work in education) or a general approach (e.g. UNICEF’s overall work). Participants are also asked to select one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and draw connections from technological innovations to their chosen SDG.

Background: UNICEF’s Work Addressing Problems Facing Children Exacerbated by COVID-19


The global agreement known as the COVAX Facility is led by CEPI, GAVI, UNICEF and WHO. UNICEF, in collaboration with the PAHO Revolving Fund, has been entrusted to lead vaccine delivery in more than 180 countries, representing 80% of the world’s population.

  • UNICEF has spent 75 years building an unprecedented global-health support system
  • UNICEF runs the largest humanitarian supply warehouse in the world
  • UNICEF currently immunizes 45% of the world’s children every year
  • UNICEF is the only organization with the infrastructure, experience and expertise already in place to make it happen as fast as

Routine vaccinations against diseases like measles and polio save an estimated 2-3 million lives every year. But in countries like Uganda, COVID-19 has interrupted many of these vaccination campaigns—and now, approximately 80 million additional children under the age of one are at risk of contracting preventable diseases.


  • Millions of children worldwide missed two-thirds of an academic year due to COVID-19-related school closures. In July 2021, 600 million children were still out of school
  • Before the pandemic, roughly 230 million teens lacked the math and reading skills needed for jobs that could help lift them out of poverty. COVID-19’s economic toll has created even more obstacles: longer school-to-work transitions, redundancy and lay-offs
  • The vast majority of children with no way to learn are from the poorest families in lower-income countries’ rural areas
  • An estimated 8 million children are expected to drop out of school permanently due to the pandemic
  • When girls drop out of school, many are forced into child marriage. The pandemic could force 10 million more girls to marry by 2030
  • At the height of the pandemic, COVID-19 school closures forced 1.6 billion schoolchildren to put their learning on hold. Despite world governments’ efforts to develop educational alternatives, one in three kids—463 million children—had no access to remote learning
  • The number of children living below the poverty line could soar by as many as 117 million thanks to COVID-19, jeopardizing 700 million children’s futures


  • Poor nutrition manifests in many Last year, 21.3 percent (144.0 million) of children under 5 were stunted, 6.9 percent (47.0 million) wasted and 5.6 percent (38.3 million) overweight
  • Globally, malnutrition is linked to nearly half the deaths of children under age 5
  • About 144 million children under 5 suffer from stunting and chronic malnutrition
  • Last year acute food insecurity threatened 135 million people in 55 countries
  • It’s not just children who are malnourished. Mothers and pregnant women aren’t getting the nutrition they need to ensure that their babies develop in the womb and are born at a healthy weight
  • Conflict and economic shocks have created a food crisis in Only 15 percent of children eat the minimum acceptable diet they need to survive, grow and develop; 360,000 suffer from severe acute malnutrition, a potentially deadly but treatable condition
  • UNICEF promotes exclusive breastfeeding, a practice that could save the lives of an estimated 800,000 children under 5
  • The human suffering caused by undernutrition is immense. The economic costs are staggering, too. Africa and Asia’s Gross Domestic Product is expected to drop by up to 11 percent due to undernutrition

Mental Health

  • Millions of children worldwide suffer unthinkable distress due to armed conflict, natural disasters and other emergencies. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated those stressors, generating its own toxic mental health and psychosocial impacts. According to UNICEF, 1 in 7 children and young people lived under stay-at-home policies for most of last year. Fear, anxiety and stress within families during the pandemic lockdowns and school closures only heighten children’s risk of abuse, exploitation and
  • Children thrive when they feel safe and protected, when family and community connections are stable and when their basic needs are met; unfortunately, the pandemic, like other humanitarian crises, disrupted many of those foundations that assure children’s mental health and well-being.
  • Mental health interventions have been a key part of UNICEF’s global response to COVID-19. UNICEF’s role in helping deliver COVID-19 vaccines to low- and lower-middle-income countries is as much about conquering disease as it is about ending the lockdowns and restarting children’s lives.

Clean Water

  • 2 billion people don’t have access to safe drinking water
  • Every year, 297,000 children under the age of 5 die from diarrhea linked to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene
  • Around 335 million girls don’t have water and soap to wash their hands when changing their sanitary pads at school. As a result, many girls will drop out once they get their periods
  • Girls and women are often threatened by violence and sexual assault on their journeys to fetch safe water for their families
  • UNICEF predicts climate change will cause extreme water stress for almost 600 million children by 2040
  • 4 billion people live without safely managed sanitation; 1.4 billion don’t have even the most basic facilities for washing their hands at home
  • Children under 15 are almost three times more likely to die from diarrhea, cholera and other diseases linked to unsafe water and sanitation than they are from direct violence

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF was conceived in 1950 when children across the U.S. began collecting coins in hand-painted milk cartons to help children affected by World War II. Since then, generations of children have gone door to door on Halloween with the signature orange collection boxes, calling out, “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF!” Originally a grassroots campaign, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has now evolved into a month-long celebration.

Since its inception, the annual fundraising campaign has raised more than $180 million to help UNICEF support children with better health care, nutrition, safe water, education, emergency relief and more. All October long, you can support the largest vaccination campaign in history! UNICEF is working to help deliver 1.4 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses around the world—along with masks, hygiene supplies, treatment, and diagnostic kits. You can help raise funds to meet this goal and end the pandemic for everyone.

Register now and start fundraising!


All information has been compiled from UNICEF USA.