SCH entrepreneurs Ellie Shoup ’22 and Zach Schapiro ’22, creators of the mobile app called Fantasy Politics, have received the “Congressional App Challenge Award.” The contest is hosted annually by the members of the U.S. House of Representatives and was designed to inspire, include, and innovate efforts around STEM, coding, and computer science education. The team’s app was nominated for the contest by 3rd district Congressman Dwight Evans.
The duo adds this recognition to other honors their project has garnered since it was first conceived in the school’s Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) Capstone program. At the Capstone Showcase in fall of 2019, they received the DaVinci Creativity Prize, which goes to a team that takes a creative approach to solving a difficult problem. This fall, they earned the “Choice of Universities Award” in the Global Youth Entrepreneurship (GYE) competition—including a $1,000 scholarship! The team, currently in the CEL’s Venture Accelerator program, learned about the contest through CEL Executive Director Ed Glassman and applied in the fall.
Shoup describes their product—designed for young people ages 15-23—as “the only mobile app that combines the riveting entertainment of fantasy sports with the politics of our nation.” The goal of the app is to create a team of politicians spanning the presidential, senatorial, and congressional levels. In order to be a successful participant of Fantasy Politics, a player must follow election cycles, track politicians' time in office, and gauge the American political climate. She says, “Through providing young people with a fun and competitive way to participate in politics, Fantasy Politics will ultimately strengthen our democracy through educating our youngest generation of leaders, voters, and citizens.” The team hopes to take it to market and envisions creating a world where kids know every senator as well as they know every quarterback!
They’ve had to overcome many challenges along the way as they’ve brought their vision to fruition. Shoup says, “In order to form the politicians’ profiles that included politicians’ age, party, and stances on key issues, we had to create a database that efficiently stored data for over 60 senatorial candidates and over 700 congressional candidates. The stored data also had to be quickly accessible so that users wouldn’t be waiting minutes for a politician’s profile to pop up.
Schapiro adds, “Another challenge was creating a model that automatically updated each candidate’s fantasy points because we needed the app to pull data from a conglomerate of websites and iterate through every candidate on Fantasy Politics.”
The team plans to expand the app’s utility by allowing users to add gubernatorial and mayoral candidates to their team as well as congressional and presidential candidates. By adding lower levels of government to the app, Fantasy Politics will engage users with local politics in addition to national politics.
Glassman is eager to help draw attention to Fantasy Politics. “Ellie and Zach have devoted countless hours to the development and launch of this unique app,” says Glassman. “Now that it is available on the App Store, we are very excited to get feedback from the public. I believe this could be a game changer in terms of getting young people interested and engaged in politics.”
Learn more about SCH Academy's Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership program, and see how our students are changing the world. Hear directly from Director of the CEL Ed Glassman about our trademarked curriculum and read about our CEL course offerings.