Thomas More University Scholarships Awarded to Students at NEXT Final Pitch Competition

On Tuesday, March 19, 2024, Square1 hosted its Annual NEXT Final Pitch Event at Thomas More University.

The competition was a chance for students to showcase their efforts for the school year of 2023-2024. Parents, teachers, and judges watched as students presented innovative ideas they had worked on for the past seven to eight months.


The event was split between four divisions: a five-minute pitch division that competed for the opportunity to win a four-year full tuition scholarship from Thomas More University, a two-minute pitch division for students to compete for $1,000 in cash prizes, and two “Tabletop” Divisions where students interacted with judges directly.


For many, presenting their idea was an opportunity to showcase innovations with social impact, with one Tabletop division dedicated to ideas for positive social change.


The event, presented by US Bank, was a unique experience for all students, allowing them mentorship opportunities, advice on their ideas, and future partnerships. “US Bank is proud to support our next generation of changemakers and innovators,” explained Tony Knies, Vice President at US Bank and Square1’s board chair. He continued, “Our employees have been very impressed with the students’ development throughout the program.” US Bank employees and many others from the community participate as judges and assist in organizing the final event. Overall, several dozen mentors and coaches guide the students as they develop key skills that will aid them in school, career, and life.  


This year saw the introduction of new awards, including the Aviatra Women-led award, and a “Wildcard” pitch. The “Wildcard” gave students who did not make the main stage a chance to impress our judges and get moved to the five-minute pitches to compete for the four-year, full tuition scholarship to Thomas More University.


“I was really inspired by your mission,” said Jill Morenz, President and CEO of Aviatra Accelerators, an organization that mentors women-owned businesses, as she presented the women-led award to the team of Nutritional Soul.


This year’s four-year full-ride Thomas More University scholarship was presented to Megan Crosby of Copilot, an innovative product that assists first-time car drivers.


Scholarships of $25,000 and $22,000 were presented to Henry Hudepohl and Cono Presti of ViteRight, a team from Beechwood High, and to Bene Gyan of Get Connected, a Walnut Hills High School student entrepreneur, respectively.


The event also featured Paul Powers as a keynote speaker, Founder and CEO of Physna, a company that uses machine learning to understand and improve 3D models. He spoke to the students about his entrepreneurial journey and the importance of overcoming setbacks.


Square1 plans to continue to reach students in the 2024-2025 school year. Square1’s NEXT program strives to teach an entrepreneurial mindset to students across Northern Kentucky and the Cincinnati region.

To learn more about entering your student in Square1’s next program, please visit

For more information about Thomas More University, visit

For more information about U.S. Bank, visit

About Thomas More University

Founded in 1921, Thomas More University stands as a beacon of academic excellence and innovation, challenging students to Make It More. Deeply rooted in the Catholic Intellectual Tradition, this timeless foundation supports a transformative educational experience as students looking to Be More are guided in the pursuit of knowledge, ethical leadership, and the integration of faith and reason. Through the high-quality, liberal arts education provided at Thomas More, students examine the ultimate meaning of life, their place in the world, and their responsibility to others which leads to the ability to think critically and contribute meaningfully to the world. Serving more than 2,000 students, Thomas More takes its place as the premier Catholic university in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky region, being named one of the 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. by the Wall Street Journal. To find out more, visit

About US Bank

U.S. Bancorp, with approximately 77,000 employees and $675 billion in assets as of December 31, 2022, is the parent company of U.S. Bank National Association. The Minneapolis-based company serves millions of customers locally, nationally and globally through a diversified mix of businesses: Consumer and Business Banking; Payment Services; Corporate & Commercial Banking; and Wealth Management and Investment Services. MUFG Union Bank, consisting primarily of retail banking branches on the West Coast, joined U.S. Bancorp in 2022. The company has been recognized for its approach to digital innovation, social responsibility, and customer service, including being named one of the 2022 World’s Most Ethical Companies and Fortune’s most admired superregional bank. Learn more at 

About Square1

Square1, with locations in Covington and Cincinnati, seeks to uncover, educate, support, and inspire emerging entrepreneurs and leaders, who ultimately create opportunities for themselves and others by overcoming the many obstacles life poses. This mission is achieved through the NEXT program, which works with high school students to teach how innovation and an entrepreneurial mindset can change their life’s trajectory. Schools and students from across Greater Cincinnati participate in this region-wide innovation and work skills education and development program. To find out more, visit