The Acara Innovation Fellowship provides up to $5,000 and intensive mentoring and training  for 8–12 individual students and student teams annually. Students use fellowship funding to pilot their ideas for impact ventures and/or to intern with organizations where they can develop their knowledge and skills in order to have impact in the future.

The 2020 Acara Fellows are:


Gold Winner, Crowd Favorite Award: ShaqoSearch

Morgan Kerfeld, BSB Entrepreneurial Management & Public and Nonprofit Management 2021

ShaqoSearch, a partnership with Alight (American Refugee Committee), is a tailor-made job connection platform that matches young adults in Kismayo, Somalia to employers in Kismayo. 

Silver Winner: Cup Deposit Project

Lauren Anderson, BA Anthropology 2020

Cup Deposit Project is a reusable cup system that seeks to combat single-use disposable coffee cup waste across the University of Minnesota.

Silver Winner: Furaharakati (Joy + Movement)

Allison Berry, BS Biology & Public Health 2020; Anna Solfest, BS Kinesiology 2019, DPT/MPH 2022; Allie Trask, BSN Nursing 2020 

Furaharakati (Joy + Movement) is a community-based group exercise program aimed to improve bone and joint pain as well as social engagement of Ugandan older adults. 

Bronze Winner: Loring Collective

Tony Burton, BA Political Science 2020; Enzo Mazumdar Stanger, BA Music 2022; Melissa Riepe, BS Human Resource Development & Business and Marketing Education 2020; Izzy Voigt, BS Plant Science 2020; Brady Bunkelman, Community Partner

Loring Collective empowers local queer creatives by creating safe spaces to celebrate, network, and showcase their work within various artistic mediums.


Gold Winner: Grief and Job Loss CCAPS Fellowship

Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock, MPS Integrated Behavioral Health 2021

Grief and Job Loss CCAPS Fellowship is a partnership between the College of Continuing and Professional Studies and the Hubbs Center to teach coping skills for grief associated with job loss.

Silver Winner: Disciple Science

Matt Gill, MPA 2020; Dr. Dale Gentry, Community Partner; Dr. Joel Jueckstock, Community Partner

Disciple Science aims to heal the divide between science and Christian faith and to inspire Christians to act on behalf of the earth.

Bronze Winner: Tubivuge

Aimee Carlson, Master of Development Practice 2021

Tubivuge (“Let’s talk about it”) is a podcast giving a voice to women and girls while tackling pressing issues facing the Kiziba Refugee Camp community.

Crowd Favorite Award: 

Margret Buchannon, Ph.D. Second Language Education 2022

LibroMío supports multilingual families, bolsters the value of multilingualism, and promotes community and reading enjoyment through access to and ownership of books in home languages.


Read about past Acara Innovation Fellows here.