Acara Challenge

Have a project idea that addresses a pressing social and/or environmental challenge that you want to see come to life?

The Acara Challenge is an annual competition to fund student changemakers who are developing solutions to address social and/or environmental challenges.

Applications are accepted from students of all majors and in all stages of project development from all UMN campuses. Competition finalists will receive mentorship on developing proposals and pitches, as well as support in refining their goals and creating a viable launch program.

Learn More About the 2020 Acara Challenge Winners!

 

Winners of the Acara Challenge are awarded one of the following prizes:

  1. Acara Innovation Fellowship which provides funding for up to $5000 to assist students in piloting their proposed solution, whether that is a student group project, for profit or non-profit venture, or a policy intervention. 
  2. Crowd Favorite Award: At the Acara Challenge reception, two teams will be selected by the audience for a cash prize of $500.
  3. All Expense Paid Trip to San Diego to compete in the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge: Up to two teams will be selected to compete in the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge for a chance to win up to $50,000 to fund your project. At the University of San Diego, students will be able to gain hands-on experience, mentoring, and network connections, while developing a heightened awareness of global responsibility. 

 

Here’s a list of Fellowship recipients. 

Get Involved!

Ready to compete in the Acara Challenge?

  • Prepare: You are encouraged to register for our January course Social Innovation Design, which will provide valuable background in the art of turning ideas into reality. This is not required but will provide a great foundation for your competition entry. Read through the guidelines for the Acara Challenge before starting your application.
  • Propose: Submit an application!
  • Practice: Selected finalists meet with Acara mentors to refine their projects, work on their solution plans and presentations.
  • Pitch: Selected finalists are scheduled to present for a panel of judges and then will give a short pitch at the Acara Challenge Reception and Prize Ceremony

Acara Challenge Competitor Details

  • The competition is open to current degree-seeking University of Minnesota students (undergrad, grad, professional) from all UMN campuses.
  • Each team must have at least 1 currently or recently registered student (1 or more students must be registered Fall 2019 or Spring 2020).
  • Any team with an idea or operational early stage intervention/idea/business/solution that addresses a grand challenge issue may participate.

Updated dates coming Fall 2020

  • Applications are due by 10pm on February 9th, 2020.
  • Students will be notified if they are competing by February 20th.
  • Orientation for Finalists will be February 21st from 3:00-4:00pm on East Bank.
  • Day 1 Presentations on March 23rd.
  • Day 2 Presentations on March 24th.
  • Acara Challenge Reception and Award Ceremony is March 26th.

  • The Acara Innovation Fellowship, which provides funding for up to $5000 to assist students in piloting their proposed solution.
  • At the Acara Challenge reception, two teams will be selected by the audience for a cash prize of $500.
  • All Expense Paid Trip to San Diego to compete in the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge in June 2020. Up to two teams will be selected to compete in the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge for a chance to win up to $50,000 to fund your project.
  • Institute on the Environment Impact Goal Research Prize for Graduate Students.

All teams will be judged by an investor-like panel. The judging criteria is:

  • What is the problem?
  • How are you sustained?
  • What is the social impact?
  • How does it scale?
  • Who is the team?

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