Five Penn Arts and Sciences Students Chosen as President’s Engagement and Innovation Prize Winners

March 30, 2017

Five seniors in the College of Arts and Sciences have been selected as recipients of the 2017 President’s Engagement and Innovation Prizes. Awarded annually, the Prizes provide $100,000 in funding for Penn seniors to design and undertake post-graduation projects that make a positive, lasting difference in the world.

“These members of the Class of 2017 have set out to implement an extraordinarily promising venture, and each has brought to the table an outstanding ability and an infectious eagerness to make a tangible, substantial, sustainable impact,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “I am deeply grateful to the Selection Committees for recommending to me a group of projects that embody the spirit of public service and innovation upon which the University was founded.”

Each project will receive up to $100,000, plus a $50,000 living stipend per team member. The student recipients will spend the next year implementing their projects. The College recipients are:

  • Alexa Salas and Camilo Toro, with Yaneli Arizmendi of Nursing, will design a community-based after-school program for Latino high school students in South Philadelphia. They will develop an experiential, bilingual, culturally inclusive curriculum to serve as the touchstone for the program, which will work with Latino immigrant families and members of the community. Their project, Lanzando Líderes (Launching Leaders), aims to bridge educational disparities and help students develop self-efficacy to reach their personal, educational, and professional goals.
  • Antoinette Zoumanigui and Selamawit Bekele are spearheading Project Y.V.E.T.A., Youth for Vocational Education and Training in Agriculture, a school that will empower the marginalized youth of Senegal called Talibés. In partnership with the Senegalese Ministry of Agriculture, Project Y.V.E.T.A. will provide Talibés with an education focused on improving numeracy and literacy skills while also providing technical training in agriculture and agri-entrepreneurship. Project Y.V.E.T.A.’s integration of traditional education with vocational skills is the first of its kind in Senegal.
  • ​​William Fry (C’17, W’17) will use the President’s Innovation Prize as a catalyst for SolutionLoft, a company that he co-founded in 2016. SolutionLoft aims to bring the power of software creation to everyone, regardless of technical skills or income level. To reach this goal, SolutionLoft has designed a proprietary code engine that enables code to be re-used, streamlining the development process.

To read the full announcement, click here.