Valentina Maza and Tatiana Romero are students at William Penn High School in New Castle, Delaware. The pair participated in the 2018 Diamond Challenge with their concept ETI, Education in Times of Immigration, a venture that aims to provide Spanish-speaking students coming to the United States as teens with resources such as English language lessons and cultural assimilation. The pair were one of 55 teams out of 700+ submissions to make the semifinal round and received $2,000 in total funding along with the opportunity to connect with young entrepreneurs and mentors from around the world.

“We are solving the problems of language, new culture, separation, and documentation,” said Valentina. “We identified this issue as we are our own prototype, we faced these same issues when we first came to the United States. I am the only Venezuelan in my school, and these barriers create obstacles to success.” The point was echoed by Tatiana: “Speaking the language is the first step in communicating with your teacher, we want to empower the students to have the opportunity to raise their voice and participate in their own success in the United States.”

Valentina and Tatiana first pitched ETI at the 2018 Diamond Challenge Dover pitch site in March. The pair moved onto the semifinals of the competition at The Summit. Though ETI did not make the finals, the promise of the venture and the passion of the founders was evident. “Because of the Diamond Challenge, we had the opportunity of speaking to the Delaware Spanish Commission about the problem and we also met with the Department of Education,” said Valentina. “The Diamond Challenge has been a life changing opportunity and it was an honor to participate and become a semi-finalist.”

“I never imagined I would be able to participate in something as amazing as the Diamond Challenge,” said Tatiana. “I could not speak English and doing this now for my community is a dream come true.”