Carson Crochet smiles with a demo CAbuddy box outside of nummit
Carson Crochet ‘22 with a demo CAbuddy box. The final product will include a naked mole rat plush in lieu of a bulldog. Photo by Sydney Schertz ‘24.

Samantha Ewing ’23 (She/Her), Senior Staff Writer

Each year, the Hurt Hub chooses up to three students as recipients of the Avinger Impact Fund. According to the Hurt Hub website, the Avinger Impact Fund awards microgrants up to $10,000 dollars to aid students looking to advance their business ideas. Prior to this semester, the most recent recipients were awarded in Fall 2019 as COVID complications made it difficult to run the program in Fall 2020. Now, however, the Avinger Impact Fund is back and has been awarded to three students: Carson Crochet ’22, Sandro Chumashvili ’24 and Thomas Athey ’24.

Funding Programs coordinator, Kevin Cook ’09 and Educational Program Manager Amy Gascon discussed the application process for the fund. “The [applicants] who are going to be stronger are the students who have really clearly identified their problem,” Cook commented.

Cook and Gascon also remarked that many strong applicants are able to articulate the importance of their projects and outline tangible steps for how the funding will be used. 

“Thoughtfulness behind the application is important as much as anything,” Gascon said.

Crochet’s idea is titled CAbuddy and was inspired by her mother who was diagnosed with a rare cancer last semester. 

“It’s essentially a little animal plush sent in a care package to someone and the proceeds from this box are put back into cancer research funds for under-researched but highly lethal cancers,” Crochet said.

The plush is a naked mole rat, which is both hairless and resistant to cancer.

Crochet also sought help from the Hurt Hub as she planned and navigated her project idea. “They were very supportive and have given me help and mentorship in leading me through this process,” she said.

Meanwhile, as a part of his company US-Georgia Wines, Chumashvili imports premium-level wines from his home country of Georgia. “Due to the wide variety of endemic grapes, Georgia is lucky to produce wines to all contingents of people, whether it is strong oak-aged dry-red, happy and summerish semi-sweet white, or many many more,” he said.

Chumashvili also has connections in the New-York metropolitan area, D.C. area, and Philadelphia area, which will act as the main outposts for his business.

Lastly, Portfolio Kings, which is run by Athey and two friends from his high school, is an education trade group focused on options trading and cryptocurrency investing.

“Members pay a monthly subscription to have access to two courses, written guides, workshops, weekly and daily market analysis, Discord chat rooms, and all the trades and investments that we take,” Athey said. 

Once the recipients are awarded, the Avinger Impact fund program identifies mentors to match with them, meet with them regularly, and help them navigate their ideas.

“We’re trying to put every resource we can behind them whether it’s money, skills or people—we want to make sure they feel supported as best we can,” Cook said. 

Each year, the program also hosts a banquet early in the spring semester to give students an opportunity to talk about the progress they’ve made. “We really just want to find ways to showcase the great works that students are doing and build awareness,” commented Cook.

Though the application cycle for the Avinger Impact Fund has been completed for this year, there are several other opportunities that remain available to students through the Hurt Hub. The Try It Fund application is open now and awards up to $1,000 to students looking to pursue a creative or innovative idea. Additionally, the Davidson Venture Fund awards grants of up to $25,000. Apart from these grants, the Hurt Hub also offers courses, educational programs, and work opportunities in addition to their study spaces. 

“There’s so much here to take advantage of if [students] are just willing to check it out,” Cook said.