HomeEducationAcaraHow-To: The Acara Challenge

How-To: The Acara Challenge

The objective of the Acara Challenge is to develop student leaders with practical and innovative solutions that address societal and environmental challenges both globally and locally. 

Want to know more about how the Acara Challenge works? We’ve created a simple, step by step guide for any student who wants to compete in the challenge!

Step 1: Project Prep

Not sure where to begin? Develop your project idea until you’re ready to apply. We recommend you talk to people—family, friends, coworkers, roommates—about your project and solicit specific feedback about your idea to help you craft your proposal. 

Check out the guidelines for more info. You’ll need to read these before applying.

Step 2: Submit a Proposal

It’s time to submit your project proposal! You’ll fill out this Google Form that includes six long-form questions about your project and additional questions about your team. Here are some FAQ’s on successful applications:

What kind of projects are you looking for? We want a project that deals with a social or environmental issue that you are passionate about. Ultimately, the goal is to invest in our students and help them follow their own goals. Make it a feasible project that you are excited to work on! 

What kind of students are you looking for? Students who are flexible, resourceful, and motivated are the ideal candidates for our competition. We want students who are willing to put in the time and effort necessary to develop their project! This is designed to be a multidisciplinary competition, so current degree-seeking UMN students from all areas of study are welcome. 

Do I need to have a team to compete? No, project proposals can be accepted for both solo and team projects. Students who have their own project idea but want to innovate with others can work with Acara Fellows to develop a team. 

What have previous projects focused on? Here’s a description of last year’s projects if you’re looking for some inspiration.

So, what exactly does the application look like? In the application you will be asked to answer questions about your project, your solution, the financial sustainability of it, and others in 1,000 characters or less. You can find the application here. The deadline to apply is 10pm on Sunday, February 9, 2020. Students will be notified on whether they will be competing by Thursday, February 20. 

If you have any other questions, feel free to reach out to acarachallenge@umn.edu.

Step 3: Practice, Practice, Practice

This is where the real fun begins! 

Acara provides free coaching through our Impact Studios, which will be essential to your success! Acara mentors will meet with individuals/teams in order to refine their project and develop a final presentation. Give your project presentation to people who have known about your idea from the beginning, as well as people who have never heard about your project before. Remember to ask specific questions for feedback! A wider variety of feedback will help you create a unique, innovative project pitch.

Step 4: The Big Pitch

It’s go time! Here’s what to expect on challenge day: 

When will I pitch my project? Each project will be pitched to a panel of Acara judges on March 23 and 24. They will also be presented at the Acara Challenge Reception and Prize Ceremony on March 26. 

What happens afterwards? Some students will be chosen to become Acara Fellows, and your year-long journey of receiving support from Acara begins. Prize money will be used to support the project’s success after the competition. Additionally, one competing team will be sent to participate in the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge, taking place in June!

That’s it! Now that we’ve given you the steps to a successful Acara Challenge, what are you waiting for? Make your idea a reality! We hope to see your application soon, and happy innovating.

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