2020 DezMax Winners Tackle Racial Bias and Animal Adoption

1/10/2020 Unknown 0 Comments

Congratulations to Roxie Xie BIC '20 and Taylor Becker BIC '20 who share this year's DezMax Scholarship. Each submission fulfilled the award's criteria which asks BICsters to develop a project that champions a cause with persuasion, passion, and charisma.


Roxie's proposal, "Bidding for the Hot Shot Teacher," was based on her native understanding of Chinese society where proficiency in English is highly valued, but only when that skill is taught by American and British speakers who are white. According to her research, this has resulted in an explosion of tutoring services in which 96% of ESL teachers are caucasian.

To Roxie, this spoke to a deeper issue: when young students are exposed to bias at such a young age, it spreads throughout the entire Chinese culture and impacts the future. To counteract this, Roxie wanted to elevate the stature of English tutors of color. But how? Her consumer research sought to uncover shared motivators between two disparate, but critical audiences: young students and their parents.

Her findings led Roxie to create "Bidding for the Hotshot Teacher," an initiative that would allow parents to blindly bid for highly qualified diverse ESL teachers so parents could appreciate a tutor's expertise in an unbiased way. The gamification of the hiring process also engaged and energized the children being tutored.

While the bidding is blind, the activation is not: Parents anonymously bid for teachers on WeChat, but real-time bidding that spotlights tutors of color is viewed publicly in OOH activations. Roxie further amplified the campaign by creating "The Hotshot Challenge" reality TV show which takes bidding to a whole other level where students get the opportunity to travel abroad. By making the process competitive, entertaining, and highly visible, the entire country gets "schooled" on how the value of English is not contingent on the color of the ESL teacher's skin.


Taylor's proposal brings together two existing companies, Wag! and the Humane Society, to counteract the perception that shelter dogs are damaged goods and that shelters are sad places to visit. Her partnership and communications campaign encourages dog-owning tourists who are missing their pets back home to visit shelters while on vacation and take a dog for a walk. The app is made extra easy for tourists and allows Wag! users to check out a dog's profile, apply to be a vacation buddy, use a matching quiz to pair them with their companion for the day as well as review the experience for future potential dog parents. If tourists fall in love with their dog-buddy, the app even provides adoption tips for getting the dog home.

Both Roxie and Taylor will have their DezMax Scholarship applied toward Spring semester tuition. Past winners have further developed their submission as business proposals and as portfolio pieces.

ABOUT the Desmond Maxwell (DezMax) Cause + Charisma Scholarship. As a student in BIC's inaugural Class of 2015, Desmond Maxwell was a successful media consultant, boastful undergraduate of City College, and proud member of the US Marine Corps, having served with distinction. He often said with great pride that he was “born and buttered in Harlem.” Dez was not just a charismatic man, but a generously supportive and inspiring classmate who championed causes that were close to his heart. Sadly, Dez died a few months before graduation. However, through the generosity of classmates, BIC Board Members, and friends (with a special shout out to GroupM), BIC was able to set up the DezMax Scholarship in his honor. Each year, BIC students compete for $4,000 in scholarship money with proposals that best demonstrate a communications-based solution to a societal problem. 

Interested in donating to the DezMax Scholarship fund? Ask bic@ccny.cuny.edu how...