Proposed initiatives to make coding more accessible and the homeless healthier are among this year’s President’s Engagement and Innovation Prize winners.
The prizes provide Penn seniors $100,000 in addition to faculty support to help launch their proposed post-graduation projects.
Three projects — which include seven students total — won the Engagement prize: College senior Alexa Salas, College senior Camilo Toro and Nursing senior Yaneli Arizmendi won for their project, “Lanzando Líderes”; Nursing seniors Marcus Henderson and Ian McCurry won for “Homeless Health and Nursing: Building Community Partnerships for a Healthier Future”; and College seniors Antoinette Zoumanigui and Selamawit Bekele won for “Project Y.V.E.T.A.”
College and Wharton senior William Fry won the Innovation prize for his project “SolutionLoft.”
Through their project “Lanzando Lideres,” Salas, Toro and Arizmendi plan to establish an after-school program in South Philadelphia for Latino high school students. They, and their faculty mentor Dean of Nursing Toni Villarruel, are looking to develop an “experiential, bilingual, culturally-inclusive curriculum” for specifically Latino immigrant families, but also the community as a whole, according to the press release.
Henderson and McCurry also plan to stay in Philly and work with the Bethesda Project, a nonprofit focused on assisting the homeless. With help from their mentor Terri Lipan, the assistant dean for community engagement and professor of nutrition in the School of Nursing, Henderson and McCurry plan to integrate health care case management into Bethesda’s programs.
Through Project Y.V.E.T.A. — Youth for Vocational Education and Training in Agriculture — Zoumanigui and Selamawit plan to establish a school to “empower the marginalized youth of Senegal called Talibés,” according to the press release. They, their faculty mentor History professor Cheikh Babou and the Senegalese Ministry of Agriculture are seeking to provide these children with basic numeracy and literacy, but also with specialized training in agriculture and agri-entrepeneurship.
Fry founded SolutionLoft, a company focused on making code more accessible especially to those with little technical skills or low socioeconomic status. The press release said that he has designed a “proprietary code engine that enables code to be re-used” with help from his mentor Jeffrey Babin, associate professor of practice in mechanical engineering and applied mechanics.