NKU launches a $500,000 innovation challenge open to students, faculty, and staff

Northern Kentucky University is making $500,000 available to encourage new ideas to help the university reach its long-term goals.

The school has launched the 2020 NKU Innovation Challenge, a program meant to unleash creative plans to improve the success of its students.

The challenge is part of NKU’s larger Success by Design framework, a three-year strategy to improve access to the college and graduation rates.

The Innovation Challenge is designed to be flexible and support both small- and large-scale projects. It’s open to students, faculty, staff – anyone on campus – to share their ideas and apply for funding ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 to carry out their plans to jump start student success.

“Our campus has many great ideas to help our students achieve, and we want to give them the platform to share these ideas,” said Chief Strategy Officer and Vice President Bonita Brown. “That’s the basis of our Innovation Challenge -- provide the opportunity to present these ideas and secure resources to make it happen.”

The deadline to submit proposals is Dec. 6. Finalists will be notified in late December and will pitch their ideas to the campus in January 2020.

More information and an application is available at the Innovation Challenge website.

The university also announced the first five initiatives of the Success by Design framework. Success by Design is the university’s ongoing, big-picture strategy that identified three priorities to guide its work over the next few years: improving access to the university, completion of studies and graduation and engaging with employers and the larger community.

NKU will begin acting on the framework by tackling these top initiatives that were determined through campus feedback, surveys, forums and thousands of conversations.

“Every objective and goal identified through our framework is important, but we must have a starting point,” said NKU President Ashish Vaidya.

NKU said will it focus on improving affordability by examining student aid dollars as well as non-tuition fees and expenses. The university also plans to strengthen and expand the pipeline to college that starts in preschool and extends through high school and transfer institutions.

Initiatives three and four focus on completion. The university said it will coordinate care for students and ensure that outside real-world learning experiences are integrated into the curriculum.

Another initiative addresses community and employer engagement and will emphasize fostering economic development and entrepreneurship in technology, health and logistics.

Teams composed of deans, department chairs, faculty, staff and students will oversee each initiative.



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David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, an award-winning journalist, and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.