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The application process for Penn’s prestigious President’s Engagement Prizes has officially begun.

The prizes, first awarded last spring, provide seniors with up to $100,000 to complete a project of local, national or global engagement in the year after their graduation from Penn. Formed under the Penn Compact 2020, the prize aims to foster the practical application of knowledge learned in school.

“The key messages are that the prizes underscore our commitment to encouraging students to put their education into practice,” Penn President Amy Gutmann said. “It’s a way of adding prizes that reward our students for what we take to be a very important priority of a Penn education.”

On Aug. 26, members of the Class of 2016 received an email from Gutmann announcing this year’s contest and urging students to apply.

“Do you want to use your Penn education to make a difference in the lives of others?” the email reads. “Do you dream of pioneering your own public service project? Could you use up to $100,000 to turn your idea into a reality?”

Gutmann said she aims to award three prizes every year — but in the first year of the competition, she awarded four. The winners included students from all four undergraduate schools.

Last year’s winning projects are expansive and diverse, sending prize winners across the globe. 2015 Nursing graduate Jodi Feinberg is bridging the gap between inpatient and outpatient cardiac rehabilitation by creating a comprehensive cardiac rehabilitation model for home care. 2015 College graduate Shadrack Frimpong is establishing the Tarkwa Breman Model School for Girls and Community Clinic in the village of Tarkwa Breman, Ghana. 2015 Wharton graduate Katlyn Grasso is developing the female empowerment network for high school girls, “GenHeration.” And 2015 Engineering graduates Adrian Lievano and Matthew Lisle are creating and implementing a rainwater catchment and purification system in Kimana, Kenya.

Information sessions will be held throughout the semester, and the four previous winners will each return to campus to discuss their projects.

Gutmann encouraged all seniors to consider applying for the prize, noting that even students who do not win will have positioned themselves well by developing a good idea.

“The simple act of applying for the prize, even if not selected as a winner, is a great thing to do because it’s a great exercise and it’s likely to produce results in itself,” Gutmann said. “The winners are incredible.”

The President’s Engagement Prizes are the largest prizes of their kind in the United States, according to Gutmann. The application, which includes a written project proposal, a budget plan and a mentor commitment and recommendation letter, is due in January 2016.

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