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Westchester High School App For Hunger Lands National Prize For Innovation

Harrison High School students landed a national prize for innovation in this year's App Challenge sponsored by Verizon. Only nine schools were winners nationwide.
Harrison High School students landed a national prize for innovation in this year's App Challenge sponsored by Verizon. Only nine schools were winners nationwide. Photo Credit: Contributed/Kieran Kesner
Harrison High's App was named one of the "Best of Nation" for Verizon's Annual Challenge. "Pay It Forward is an app that allows users to order their own food while also having the ability to easily donate to those who cannot afford to buy their own.
Harrison High's App was named one of the "Best of Nation" for Verizon's Annual Challenge. "Pay It Forward is an app that allows users to order their own food while also having the ability to easily donate to those who cannot afford to buy their own. Video Credit: Pay It Forward

This story has been updated.

HARRISON, N.Y. -- Harrison High School students were named "Best in Nation" winners this week in the fourth annual Verizon Innovative App Challenge. Harrison was the only school selected in New York state, and among just nine winning entries nationwide.

The Huskies' mobile app concept is designed to help combat hunger by giving consumers a chance to pay-it-forward when they order food online and buy a meal for a person in need at the same time. A video of their innovation is posted.

Verizon awarded Harrison High $20,000 for their school or organization and a chance to work with MIT experts to learn coding and turn their concept into a real, working mobile app.

In addition to winning a grant from the Verizon Foundation, the “Pay-It-Forward App” team students will work alongside experts from the Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab. Once complete, the team will own the full rights to their app, which becomes available for download in Google Play. In June, they will present their apps in person at the National TSA Conference in Nashville, Tenn., also courtesy of Verizon.

Harrison's “Pay-It-Forward App” team is one of nine national winning teams – eight Best in Nation and a first-time Fan Favorite Award winner from Michigan. The full list of winners can be found online here:

U.S. Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat from Harrison, issued a statement saying: “I am thrilled that these innovation rock stars from Harrison High School have won ‘Best in Nation’ for their Pay it Forward app."

“The students’ smarts, hard work, and determination could go a long way to reduce hunger around the country, including right here in Westchester County, where roughly one in five Westchester residents, or about 200,000 people, are hungry or at risk of hunger, with half seeking emergency food regularly," Lowey said. "We must continue to encourage students’ participation in STEM education courses, so they can use 21st Century technology to solve persistent problems."

The Verizon Innovative App Challenge is a national no-coding-skills needed competition, created by the Verizon Foundation in partnership with the Technology Student Association, and presented in collaboration with MIT Media Lab, that challenges student teams across the country to come up with ideas for apps that could solve a problem in their schools or communities.

It is predicted that the U.S. may be short 3 million high-skilled workers by 2018. While the education system has enough talent in math and science to fill the need for traditional STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) jobs, less than 25 percent of those students enter STEM majors in college.

Harrison also attracted this television coverage from CBS News:

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