All 25-year-old college student Veronika Scott wanted to do was get an "A" grade for her design project - a thermal coat that can easily be transformed into a sleeping bag. But Scott did more than just receive high marks for her project; in fact, she transformed lives because of it.
Scott's school project propelled her to build the non-profit humanitarian organisation called The Empowerment Plan, which employs homeless people and trains them to manufacture the special thermal coats, which significantly ease the plight of Detroit's homeless people during the harsh winters.
"If I get stuck out in the cold, I can stay warm," Timothy Harrington, 34 told The Huffington Post. "Now I've got something to sleep in, something comfortable."
Scott's organisation currently has 19 women seamstresses and one man working on shipping and inventory. Arnetta Smith, one of the seamstresses, had been homeless for over a year when Scott offered her a job.
"I'm independent now. I pay my own bills. I have a vehicle. I don't rely on the state for help anymore," said Smith.
Now Scott is looking into hiring more homeless people because more people have been taking an interest in the thermal coat. "Homelessness is not a defining characteristic. It is not a permanent state of being," she said.
It costs $100 to sponsor the coat for a homeless person, and The Empowerment Plan produced 4,500 pieces last year. It plans to manufacture at least 6,500 this year.
"We get thousands of requests every year from people that want to purchase it for themselves — everybody from hunting, camping, fishing to doomsday prepping," said Scott. "If we have a whole arm that's based on producing a retail product, that is even more jobs."
Scott has received numerous awards and recognition for her work, first in 2011 by the Industrial Design Society of America, who awarded her with the IDSA: IDEA Gold Award. In 2012, she became the youngest person to receive the JFK New Frontier Award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, and in 2013, Scott was named one of Crain's Detroit Business "Twenty in their 20's."