President Liz Magill announced the winners of this year’s President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes, awarding three teams of Penn seniors and recent graduates with funding for various social impact projects.
The prizes are awarded annually to Penn seniors for the development and undertaking of a post-graduation project that aims to positively impact the world. Each winning project will receive $100,000, and each team member will receive a $50,000 living stipend. The recipients – selected from a pool of 76 applicants – will spend the next year implementing their projects using these funds.
Two College seniors and one December 2022 College graduate were named recipients of the 2023 President’s Engagement Prizes.
College senior Seungwon (Lucy) Lee created Communities for Childbirth, an international organization focused on maternal and child health in Jinja, Uganda. The organization aims to establish a community-based referral system that will improve transportation to health facilities and patient communication. Lisa Levine, the Michael T. Mennuti Associate Professor in Reproductive Health in the Perelman School of Medicine, mentors Lee.
"The President's Engagement Prize felt like the perfect opportunity for me to be able to make [my project] a reality and work on it for the next year full time," Lee said.
College senior Kenneth Pham and December 2022 College graduate Catherine Chang Pham won for Act First, a program that teaches Philadelphia high school students first-aid training. This idea builds off an idea the pair started as members of Penn’s Medical Emergency Response Team. Joshua Glick, an assistant professor of emergency medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine, mentors the pair.
"We're really excited to expand to other Philadelphia high schools and teach as much as possible," Chang said.
Pham agreed, adding that Penn's approval was encouraging.
"It felt so validating to be recognized that our mission is important, that our mission is needed in [Philadelphia]," Pham said.
Five Engineering seniors on one team were named recipients of the 2023 President’s Innovation Prize.
Gabriella Daltoso, Sophie Ishiwari, Gabriela Cano, Caroline Amanda Magro, and Tifara Eliana Boyce established the startup Sonura. The organization is creating a beanie for newborns in the NICU that aims to provide parental connection, shield them from auditory hazards, and support their development. Brian Halak, a lecturer in the Engineering Entrepreneurship program, mentors the team.
"We saw that the Innovation Prize would be a great way to really be supported by the Penn community and the Penn resources to pursue this further and really be successful," Daltoso said.
Magill expressed excitement about the prize announcement.
"This year's President's Engagement and Innovation Prize recipients are fueled by a desire to make a difference — in their community, across the country, and around the world," Magill told Penn Today. "Communities for Childbirth, Act First, and Sonura embody an inspiring blend of passion and purpose. They are addressing consequential challenges with compelling solutions, and their dedication and smarts are exemplary. I congratulate them and wish them success as they launch and grow their ventures."
12 students were named recipients of the President’s Engagement, Innovation, and Sustainability Prizes in 2022. The sustainability prize has yet to be announced for this year.