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Penn's new project, Projects for Progress, encourages students, faculty, and staff to promote an equitable and inclusive environment for the city of Philadelphia. 

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

Penn will award prizes of up to $100,000 to support project proposals by students, faculty, and staff that are designed to make a direct impact in Philadelphia.

The initiative, titled Projects for Progress, aims to promote equity and inclusion in the city. The applications for this year's funding are due by March 1 and the winners will be announced in May, Penn Today reported. Penn President Amy Gutmann announced the initial fund of $2 million dollars in June. It will be managed by the new Office of Social Equity and Community under University Chaplain Charles Howard.

Project proposals must directly address at least one of three objectives: eradicating or reducing systematic racism, achieving educational equity, or reducing health disparities. Each proposal must also include a budget.

The initiative is accepting proposals from any team of three to five students, faculty, and staff members, Penn Today reported. Teams that include a combination of individuals from each group of the Penn community will receive priority consideration.

“Study after study shows that diversity in thought, diversity in experience, diversity in background will lead to increases in creativity among groups," Director of Social Equity and Community Nicole Maloy told Penn Today. "That's a value and a priority here at Penn."

Multiple proposals will be awarded funding in 2021. The recipients are expected to launch their projects within six months of winning the award, according to Penn Today.

The winners of the project will be chosen by a selection committee composed of representatives from the School of Social Policy and Practice, the Graduate School of Education, the School of Nursing, the Perelman School of Medicine, the Netter Center for Community Partnerships, and Civic House.

Projects for Progress joins the President's Engagement Prize and the President's Innovation Prize in providing a large sum of funding to project proposals, although the new award is open to all members of the Penn community, rather than just graduating seniors. The award is also unique in its focus on Philadelphia instead of national or global projects.

"As important as it is to be thinking nationally and globally about our impact, it's also incredibly important that we make a positive impact where we are," Maloy told Penn Today.