HomeEducationAcaraMeet the Acara Challenge 2020 Finalists

Meet the Acara Challenge 2020 Finalists

This year, Acara is proud to celebrate 10 years of student-led change making! We had many Acara Challenge applicants this spring, each pitching their project ideas for how to solve social and environmental challenges at home and abroad. Through this annual competition, Acara aims to provide an opportunity for students who want to solve grand challenges and have project ideas to compete for funding to further their projects. 

With projects ranging from a streamlined donation platform to diminish food insecurity to a podcast empowering women and girls by tackling pressing issues facing the Kiziba Refugee Camp community, we have been thoroughly inspired by our finalists’ hard work and their dedication to creating a positive impact. We are grateful to be able to support them as they continue to strive for change. Acara is more than a program, it’s a community. 

If you ‘d like to join us for the virtual Acara Challenge on Thursday, March 26th from 5:00-6:00 p.m., RSVP now. You’ll hear a pitch from each project team and have a chance to vote for the Crowd Favorite in each division – undergraduate and graduate teams!

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Acara and IonE are proud to present the 2020 Acara Challenge finalists: 

Undergraduate Division

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

Lauren Anderson, BA Anthropology 2020

Fasting For Friends aids underfunded and understaffed food shelves by educating youth, developing local chapters, and using a streamlined donation platform to diminish food insecurity.

Leif Annexstad, BS Animal Science & BS Agriculture and Food Business Management 2022; Matthias Annexstad, BS Animal Science & BS Agriculture and Food Business Management 2022; Nick Seitzer, BS Animal Science & BS Agriculture and Food Business Management 2022; Rafat Solaiman, BA Human Physiology 2021

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. 

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

Geras is an intergenerational program aiming to empower the older generation with mental health support and the younger generation with life-long lessons and guidance.

Rodrica Cogle, BA Human Physiology & Sociology of Law, Criminology and Deviance 2021; Jin Kang, BA Computer Science & BS Statistics 2022; Zhichun (Molly) Mao, BS Economics & Math 2021

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

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

Pediatric Asthma Spacer Project studies novel, low-cost spacer inhaler devices based on water bottles and their usage in Ethiopian pediatric care to develop better practices.

Emma Brown, BS Neuroscience 2023; Joshua Chikkala, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 2023; Khai Dang, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 2023; Annie Lam, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 2023; Emma Maudal, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 2023; Vibha Mavanji, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 2022; Melanie May, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 2022; Payton Miller, BME Mechanical Engineering 2023; Justine Schneider, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 2020; Sylvia Wu, BBmE Biomedical Engineering 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. 

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


Graduate Division

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

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

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.

Alejandra Rodriguez Wheelock, MPS Integrated Behavioral Health 2021

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.

Margret Buchannon, Ph.D. Second Language Education 2022

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.

Aimee Carlson, Master of Development Practice 2021

Vibrance Biomedical is a medical device organization dedicated to innovating a simple, quick and affordable early diabetes screening device for the underserved population.

Fredarla Miller, Ph.D. Biochemistry 2020; Sayuj Suresh, BS Biochemistry 2023

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