With its innovative work to encourage impact entrepreneurship around the world,we’ve always had a hunch the Acara program is something special. That hunch got some solid affirmation recently when Acara won the C. Eugene Allen Award for Innovative International Initiatives (III Award) from the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance. The award recognizes faculty and staff who internationalize their work or the work of their department. The recipients receive an award trophy and a $2,500 professional development or program assistance stipend.
“The team that launched the idea of Acara at the University has energized students and faculty around creative solutions to basic problems. Students step out of the classroom into the laboratory that is society, and learn how to put theory into action. Students work across culture and across disciplines in responding to social concerns that affect people’s most basic needs. That work combines creativity with practicality and theory with practice, providing students with the confidence that they can contribute to positive change,” says Meredith McQuaid, associate vice president and dean of international programs.
Acara sets educational and impact goals to:
- educate and inspire the next generation of leaders
- bring real global challenges into the classroom, requiring academic skills plus teamwork, customer interaction and research, multicultural understanding, effective communication and real-world deliverables
- develop a like-minded network of international university partners
- incubate the best ideas and the best students beyond the classroom in the real world
- foster an ecosystem of corporate and foundation partners, impact investors, venture incubators and professional mentors to support student venture to become real and viable businesses.
Acara’s primary programs include the Acara Challenge, a yearly impact venture plan competition for University of Minnesota student social entrepreneurs focused on addressing grand challenges in the U.S. and globally, as well as international venture design workshops, Minnesota venture design workshops, monthly Acara impact venture reviews, and ongoing incubation of University social entrepreneurs. While undergraduate and graduate students at the University are the core participants in Acara’s programs, the programs also work with students from universities in India and East Africa.
The III Award is named for C. Eugene Allen, former University of Minnesota Provost for Professional Studies, dean of agriculture, and associate vice president for the Office of International Programs (predecessor to the GPS Alliance).
Read more about the award on the GPS Alliance website.
Award photos courtesy of GPS Alliance