Horn Entrepreneurship

The Diamond Challenge was created through Horn Entrepreneurship, a cornerstone for entrepreneurial activity based at the University of Delaware. Because of the generous contributions made by Paul and Linda McConnell, we are able to provide high school students around the world with opportunities to experience entrepreneurship first hand. We empower students in high school and beyond through entrepreneurial education and enrichment opportunities in order for students to create, capture, and deliver value from new ideas, regardless of their future career path. To learn more about how Horn can help you in your journey, click here.

The team

Dan Freeman

Director, Horn Entrepreneurship

Julie Frieswyk

Manager, Youth Programs

Rachel Strauss

Program Coordinator, The Diamond Challenge 

Linda You

Program Assistant, The Diamond Challenge 

Chuck Liddiard

West Coast Youth Entrepreneurship Coordinator, The Diamond Challenge 

Why We Do What We Do

The Paul & Linda McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative

was launched in 2014 to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurial thinkers and includes the Diamond Challenge, our annual summit, dual enrollment opportunities, and educator training programs.

Youth offerings are based on the emerging science of entrepreneurship – a combination of academic research as well as real-world and industry best practices – Since 2012, over 4,000 young people have participated in our youth programs. You can learn more about the initiative by visiting the Horn website.

Unique Impact

Evidence-based entrepreneurship

Learning to be entrepreneurial

Real-world engagement

MORE than starting small businesses

Pathways to higher education

Connecting with like-minded peers


Do I need to pay to participate?

The Diamond Challenge is completely free to students around the globe.

How do I sign up?

You will sign up and submit your concept with your team using our competition management software, Award Force. The link is found on the home page of the website.

How do I choose my competition track?

Once you know what problem you want to solve and have an idea for a new venture, choosing a competition track is easy. If the idea focuses on solving a customer problem, then choose the business concept track. If the idea focuses on solving a societal or environmental problem, then choose the social innovation track.

How much time will it take to participate in the competition?

Submissions open in the fall, and close in January. We have a recommended time frame of 10 weeks to come up with an idea, create your written concept, and create your slide deck. Once the submission round is complete, students may move on to the preliminary round, which will take place one day between February and March. If students are asked to compete in the semifinal and final rounds, students have until the summit in April to work on perfecting their pitch presentations.

Will I automatically get a chance to pitch live or virtually?

Not all participants will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas live in front of judges or virtually by submitting a recorded video. Judges will review all submission round information, and from there, participants will be notified if they qualify for the preliminary round.

Why do I have to compete with teams from around the world?

Whether you realize it or not, you are already competing with students and teams from around the world. Technology, trade agreements and other factors have created a global marketplace where we are all in competition for educational opportunities, jobs, commerce and capital. Competing with students from all over the world will provide you with opportunities to foster new connections and share ideas unlike ever before.

Why should I participate in the Diamond Challenge?

Participating in the Diamond Challenge allows you to foster global connections with students from around the world, learn how to problem solve, think creatively, and ultimately gain knowledge and first-hand experience with the entrepreneurial process which will prepare you to adapt in an ever-changing world, regardless of your chosen career path.

Ways to Engage

Click on the title below for more information


The global student promoters of the Diamond Challenge


The individuals and organizations who showcase opportunities for high school students at our annual summit


The professionals who provide thoughtful, critical feedback to all Diamond Challenge participants and select competition winners

Near Peer Mentors

The young industry professionals who guide Diamond Challenge semifinalist teams prior to pitching at the University and/or assist attendees by hosting one-on-one sessions during our annual summit


The high school students who fuel the Diamond Challenge, learn about entrepreneurship, and meet students from around the globe


The individuals and organizations who make it possible for students around the globe to participate in the Diamond Challenge


The individuals who engage with conference attendees at our annual 3-day event in April


The organizations that financially support student success and allow the Diamond Challenge to grow through the years

Team Advisors

The individuals who empower and assist all Diamond Challenge participants from idea conception to implementation

Press Room