Annual Gala: Students Launch 21 Products

Innovators launch 21 companies and unveil new products at the NEIA Gala.


  • NEIA Gala marks the culmination of the school’s founding year.

  • Innovators launch 21 companies and sell products they imagined, designed, and created to raise $10,000 in one evening.

  • Share gallery features student work across disciplines capturing the essence of the NEIA experience.

  • Enjoy a video recap of the NEIA Gala!

The inaugural NEIA Gala took place on Friday, June 10, to celebrate the culmination of our first year and unveil the products designed by our founding innovators!

There was magic in the air as guests were welcomed by our founding Head of School Tom Woelper and Head of Innovation and Trustee Matt Kressy to explore the products designed by our innovators and learn more about the experience they had creating them. Upper School and Middle School worked in the Innovation Studio to create products for the kitchen and everyday accessories using the human centered design process.

In all, innovators launched 21 companies each with their own unique brand proposition and products ranging from coasters to measuring cups and spoons, aprons, dog leashes, earrings, tote bags, and more. Guests also enjoyed a view of a share gallery throughout the school that featured student work across all disciplines.

“We empower our students for fulfillment, and in just 10 short weeks because of their commitment to work, they all became entrepreneurs,” said Matthew Kressy, Head of Innovation and NEIA Trustee. “NEIA is a school that fosters the idea of risk taking – students can create something from nothing if they have resourcefulness, a growth mindset and an environment that makes them feel safe.”

Many of our innovators sold out of their inventory and raised nearly $10,000. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to causes and charities that our innovators identified, such as The Trevor Project and Salvation Army.

As part of the evening, keynote speaker Jon Hirschtick, Co-Founder and Former CEO of Onshape and SolidWorks, and former member of the MIT Blackjack Team discussed his entrepreneurial journey and encouraged the students to keep innovating and to lead a purpose-driven life. Jon reminded us that designing is all about people.

“Our goal is to build products that help people,” said Jon. “The experience here will help you work with people and communicate through the magic of design.”

Now that summer is upon us, we reflect on the the joy of seeing our teachers, staff, families, and guests come together to celebrate the hard work and growth of each of our innovators this year. Starting this fall, innovators will return to campus renewed and ready to tackle challenges, learn new concepts, and gain transferable skills as they look to their future beyond NEIA.

“As innovators and entrepreneurs, our students have developed a sense of agency and purpose uncommon in schools,” said Tom Woelper, Head of School at NEIA. “Our students will graduate from NEIA knowing that they can be the change they want to see in the world.”


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