News and Events

Embrace's Jacobsville Advantage Receives $15K Investment from Fifth Third

Embrace, the University of Evansville (UE) student-run marketing and communications agency, will continue offering discounted services to local businesses through the Jacobsville Advantage. Fifth Third Bank provided an initial $25,000 grant to kickstart the endeavor, and they have recently invested an additional $15,000 to support ongoing services. 

The Jacobsville Advantage was launched in October 2021 to help fuel growth and development for businesses in the Jacobsville community. Since that time, Embrace has taken on six clients, some of which include Foster Care in the US, Gayla Cake, Jacobsville Community Cooperative, The Jacobsville Fine Arts Association, and Zesto. Projects with these businesses have included website creation and redesign, flyers, video advertisements, social media, and more. 

“Working with the Jacobsville community has been one of the best opportunities for Embrace,” said Ellen Rohr, CEO of the agency. “We were able to help a variety of businesses with diverse marketing needs. My hope is that this will be a program that can help small businesses grow for many years to come.” 

Any business owner in the Jacobsville community can apply to receive marketing services at discounted rates. Embrace uses a stairstep approach for pricing, with the initial five hours beginning at $10 per hour. Rates increase up to and max out at $50 after 35 hours of service. To learn more or schedule an appointment with the team, owners should visit

Although senior students of Embrace will graduate on May 7, the agency wants to continue serving the Jacobsville community and finding innovative solutions for business owners. Seven new members will be added to Embrace, and each bring unique capabilities to the dynamic team. With Fifth Third Bank’s $15,000 investment, the incoming team is eager to continue creating positive change and supporting local businesses. 

"Fifth Third Bank is thrilled to continue supporting the Jacobsville Advantage Program in partnership with Embrace,” shared Neely Pierce, city president of Fifth Third Bank. “This community is extremely deserving of these much-needed marketing and business resources, and we look forward to being a part of their continued success.” 

Eyewitness News covered the story and included interviews from business owners, which you can view here.

About Embrace 

Embrace Marketing and Communications was founded in October 2018 at the University of Evansville to provide students with real-world business experience. Its mission is to provide its clients with innovative, high-quality marketing and communications services. For more information, please visit

Changemaker Challenge Winners Receive Full Tuition to UE

High school students throughout the tri-state were awarded significant scholarships yesterday at the University of Evansville's seventh annual High School Changemaker Challenge, sponsored by Toyota Indiana.

The challenge, which is supported by the UE Center for Innovation and Change, is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity.

UE has committed more than $1 million in scholarships to winners of this competition since its inception. Those who choose UE as their college destination will each receive 4-year scholarships as listed below:

Kerry Ah and Naina Muvva

1st place team: Full tuition
Kerry Ao and Naina Muvva
Signature School (Evansville, IN)
Intertwined Financial Literacy - An online, interactive simulator used in schools to enhance students' understanding of finance through portfolios, stocks, and more

Neva Verbik

2nd place team: $23,000 per year
Neva Verbik
Avon High School (Avon, IN)
Uptown Gardens - Addresses solutions to the constant issues of pollution, increasingly less space for plants to grow, and global warming

Jack Deig

3rd place team: $18,000 per year
Jack Deig
Castle High School (Newburgh, IN)
The Hydration Station - Easily accessible water dispensing units placed throughout Evansville for a healthier, more hydrated community

The January 25 event included pitches from the top 20 teams or individuals who were invited to the in-person competition. Six ideas were then chosen for the championship round, from which judges awarded first, second, and third place. The remaining students who placed in the top six included:

Tyler Myers
Evansville Day School (Evansville, IN)
Driving for Change, Sensory Inclusion - helping individuals with special needs by partnering with local agencies and offering sensory-friendly locations and items

Faith Field
Edgewood High School (Ellettsville, IN)
Restore and Rebuild - a nonprofit organization which would provide housing for the homeless population of Indiana and inspire them to find work they enjoy

Zeke Grant
Perry Central High School (Leopold, IN)
Additive Affordable Prosthetics - prosthetics and biological augmentations that have full range of motion and are truly affordable

Projects from previous competitions can be found throughout the city of Evansville, including the Upgrade Bike Share stations and the solar-powered CommuniTree at Mickey's Kingdom Park downtown. The Toyota Trinity Stormwater Park, which will be developed in 2022, also stemmed from a previous competitor.

Toyota Donates $350,000 to Changemaker's Stormwater Project

Robert Lopez, an Ethics and Social Change major, competed in the UE High School Changemaker Challenge during his junior year at Bosse High School. He and his friend came up with an idea for a wetland education park that collects rainwater and cleans it through the park's plants.

After claiming third place, Robert decided to attend UE and continue working on this project for the Evansville community. Through several ChangeLabs focused on the park, he has worked alongside local organizations to bring his idea to life.

On December 13, community partners met in downtown Evansville to announce the next phase of Robert's project. Community partners include the City of Evansville, Evansville Water and Sewer Utility, Toyota Indiana, and Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation. Now, thanks to a generous $350,000 donation from Toyota Indiana, the Toyota Trinity Stormwater Park will eventually be fully accessible to the public while creating a better, more environmentally-friendly community.

"This is a testament to our community’s collaborative spirit," said Mayor Lloyd Winnecke. "Our schools, water utility, businesses, architects and designers came together to provide a unique, sustainable solution to improve our city’s infrastructure and quality of life.”

"Working on this park has been nothing short of a life-changing experience," said Robert. "Starting as a junior in high school, I’ve been able to take this idea from sketches on a whiteboard, to presenting a virtual 3D walk through to the Mayor, and UE’s Center has been there the whole way. Without this project and the amazing team at the Center, I wouldn’t be who I am or where I am today. I only hope that someday I can inspire someone the way they inspired me and help them change their community too.”

Mike Labitzke, former lead Project Director for Evansville Water & Sewer Utility, served as one of Lopez’s ChangeLab coaches for several semesters. His initial concept for a park on top of water filtration was shared with the Center, who then pitched the idea to Robert's AP Biology class at Bosse High School. The team never stopped working on the project.

“We are excited about our partnership with the University of Evansville on what will become the city’s largest green infrastructure,” said EWSU Executive Director Lane Young. “This project allows us to be good stewards of our environment by diverting millions of gallons of sewage overflow away from the Ohio River while preserving historic relics from the former Trinity Catholic Church and incorporating them into an urban garden for our community to enjoy.”

"The collaboration with so many different parts of the community elevates the impact,” said UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “UE is so pleased to do our part in advancing our community, and reinforce that our students, like Robert, demonstrate how we bring academics to life to solve real world issues.”

The Toyota Trinity Stormwater Park will divert approximately 25 acres of downtown storm water runoff from the combined sewer system to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSO) to the Ohio River as part of the City’s CSO Long Term Control Plan. The first phase of the project involved demolition of the buildings on the former Holy Trinity Church property, located at 3rd Street and Court Street in Downtown Evansville, with materials salvaged including the plinth, some limestone and stained-glass. These materials will be incorporated into the design of the park.

The next phase involves storm sewer and storage facility construction below ground to collect storm water runoff and promote infiltration into the sand and gravel layers below grade at the church site. This next phase will also involve finalizing design and construction of the top side amenities, and designing some of the wellness programs to be offered.

Toyota has been named the title sponsor and will work with Lopez and the UE Center for Innovation & Change to identify additional green space funding opportunities from corporations and individuals. Toyota has sponsored each High School Changemaker Challenge at UE, including the 2022 challenge that is currently underway.

“We are extremely honored to be the lead supporter on such a transformative project,” said Ted Brown, vice president of administration at Toyota Indiana. “Robert’s vision for an innovative solution—to what many may have considered a standard infrastructure project—shows leadership, vision and pride for his community. That’s why programs like UE’s Changemaker Challenge are so vital to the evolution and growth of our region, and why we at Toyota Indiana continue to support those efforts. We want to challenge those in our communities to seek out opportunities to pioneer ideas for our future like Robert did, so that together we can build a better future.”

Toyota Donates $350,000 to Changemaker's Stormwater Project

UE Hosting 7th Annual High School Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville is pleased to announce the upcoming High School Changemaker Challenge, sponsored by Toyota. Any high school junior or senior is invited to participate for a chance to win a four-year scholarship, with the top prize offering full tuition. 

UE believes everyone can be a changemaker, and positive change doesn’t have to wait until college. The Changemaker Challenge, created by the University’s Center for Innovation and Change, encourages the younger generation to identify and solve challenges in the world through innovation and creativity. Students will share their unique ideas (products, services, or programs) in the form of a 2-minute video, and scholarships will be awarded to first through third place. Once they enroll at UE to continue their education, students can continue designing and implementing their ideas to make a lasting difference.  

Interested participants can attend an online information session on Thursday, November 18. Video recordings describing students’ ideas must be submitted by December 8, and the top 20 finalists will be announced on the UE website on December 15. The final round will be held on UE’s campus on January 25, 2022, where winners will be selected. To register for the information session and competition, please visit

The competition is open to any high school junior or senior, and they may compete individually or in teams of up to three. Home school and club entries (e.g. Scouts, Boys and Girls Club, 4-H) will also be eligible. To qualify for a scholarship, competitors must also attend the in-person final round on campus in Evansville, Indiana.  A separate Changemaker Challenge, beginning at a later date, will be virtual and geared towards a national and global audience that cannot compete in-person.  

Competitors may be eligible to receive special prizes for forming ideas that: 

  • Increase girls’ access and exposure to science fields (e.g. a summer camp for girls interested in physics) 
  • Address or mitigate climate change (e.g. decreasing air pollution, rooftop gardens) 
  • Increase access to physical activity or health options (e.g. more dance classes or recess in schools, fitness trails, creative outdoor play options) 
  • Provide creative ideas to improve quality of life in Evansville’s Promise Zone 

Winning students who choose UE as their college destination will receive four-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below: 

  • 1st place: Full tuition 
  • 2nd place: $23,000 tuition 
  • 3rd place: $18,000 tuition 

Students that participate will receive ongoing support from the UE Center for Innovation and Change, including online training and connections to faculty experts. To submit your video or learn more about the High School Changemaker Challenge, visit or email Brooksie Smith, the Center’s associate director, at

Embrace, Fifth Third Partner for Jacobsville Advantage to Support Local Businesses

The University of Evansville, with the support of Fifth Third Bank, is launching the Jacobsville Advantage, a collaborative effort that assists small businesses in the community with the resources necessary for growth. The overall project was created by Embrace Marketing, a marketing and communications agency managed by UE students. Members of the team hope the innovative program will strengthen Jacobsville businesses and bring strategic growth to the area.

For some time, Fifth Third has been partnering with UE and the Small Business Development Corporation to find innovative solutions and initiatives for the Jacobsville community, in which approximately 460 businesses are located. After conducting research to identify the best ways to support small businesses in the community, Embrace found that marketing assistance was a significant need. Because small businesses often do not have the funds to strategically market their goods or services, they may struggle to be profitable. With a grant from Fifth Third to launch their efforts, Embrace will work one-on-one with business owners to create marketing campaigns and increase brand awareness and reach.

“Fifth Third is dedicated to continuing in our shared vision of creating a Tri-State region where small businesses can truly thrive with exceptional community partners like the University of Evansville and their Center for Innovation & Change,” said Neely Pierce, city president of Fifth Third Bank. “That’s why we have been a proud supporter of this meaningful work and will continue in our philanthropy and resource sharing as the next phase of this program sparks growth and change in the Jacobsville business district.”

Any business owner in the Jacobsville community can receive these services at a very low cost, thanks to the grant from Fifth Third. A stairstep approach will set the initial 5 hours at $10 per hour, with increasing rates up to $50 after 35 hours of service. To learn more or schedule an appointment with the team, businesses can apply on the Jacobsville Advantage website.

“Our team is very excited to bring this project to the Jacobsville area and create real change that will support these business owners and their families,” said Brock Wandel, a UE junior and account executive for Embrace. “While we may not be able to help every single business, we’re confident that those who reach out to us will be impacted for the better.”

Embrace was founded in 2018 by UE alumnus Joe Ellsworth as well as the University’s Center for Innovation & Change. This unique program, now guided by alums Keith Leonhardt and Emily Schuster, is entirely student-run and provides experiential, hands-on learning for students. Clients of Embrace receive affordable marketing and communication services, including graphic design, rebranding, advertising, and consulting.

The Jacobsville Advantage is one of several improvements UE has brought to the community. ChangeLabs, or semester-long courses that seek to create positive change, helped implement Bike Share for the city. Three UE students created the CommuniTree at Mickey’s Kingdom, a solar-powered structure that provides wi-fi and charging ports for mobile devices. The University also obtained $90,000 in solar panels for the Carver Community Organization. Additionally, UE teamed up with Glenwood Leadership Academy to launch the mad hot ballroom program to enhance art education and performance opportunities.

UE ChangeLab Brings Vaccine Awareness to Latino Community

Holy Rosary Catholic Church, located on south Green River Road in Evansville, will host a COVID-19 vaccine clinic this Sunday, September 26, 2021, from 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. The clinic is targeted toward the youth of the local Latino community.  

The first dose of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered on that Sunday, and the second dose will be administered at another clinic on Sunday, October 17, 2021, from 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Anyone age 12 and older can receive the vaccine for free. No identification cards or insurance will be required, and registration will be walk-in only. Individuals must wear a mask while at the clinic. 

Any Latino high school student who receives both doses of the vaccine will be entered to win a four-year, full-tuition scholarship from the University of Evansville. If the student is already fully vaccinated but would still like to be entered for the scholarship, they must bring proof of full vaccination and a friend, family member, or neighbor to the clinic. This individual must receive both doses of the vaccine for the student to be eligible for the scholarship. The drawing will be held after the second vaccine clinic.  

In partnership with Holy Rosary and Ascension St. Vincent, a professor and group of students from UE have worked diligently to increase COVID-19 vaccine awareness in the local Latino community. The idea arose from a ChangeLab – a semester-long UE course in which student teams develop innovative solutions to challenges either locally, nationally, or globally. The ChangeLab was held throughout the Spring 2021 semester and titled “Latinx Community Health.” 

Although vaccination awareness and encouragement has been strong in Evansville, the majority of information has been in English – whether it be online or printed in schools, healthcare facilities, or stores. Coached by Cindy Crowe, assistant professor emeritus of Spanish, the students used medical Spanish knowledge to transcribe English materials to Spanish. In particular, they created a pamphlet completely in Spanish that shared CDC guidelines as well as vaccination locations in Evansville.  

After producing the materials, Crowe and her students looked for a way to provide a comfortable, easily accessible vaccination site for Latinos where no ID was required. This was accomplished by forming a partnership with Ascension St. Vincent and Holy Rosary. Holy Rosary offers Catholic mass services in Spanish on Wednesdays and Sundays, so they knew it would be an ideal location for reaching the community and hosting the clinic. The team of students also translated the registration forms for the clinic, which led to more than 100 full vaccinations.  

“Since our clinic in the spring, the vaccine is now available for high school students, so we wanted the next clinic to focus on supporting them,” said Crowe. “As the coach of this class, it has been extremely rewarding to see these students take their ideas and goals and create a real difference in the community.” 

UE, WNIN Receive National Edward R. Murrow Award

On Tuesday, August 17, the Radio Television Digital News Association announced the University of Evansville (UE) and WNIN as a national winner for the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards.

In 2020, WNIN, the Center for Innovation and Change at the University of Evansville, and ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? collaborated on a seven-month research and reporting project to find stories of the coronavirus pandemic in seven Midwestern states. COVID Between the Coasts (CBC) is ongoing, adding data-driven reporting on the pandemic for the historical record.

CBC Lead Reporter Sarah Kuper said, “The students' hard work and valuable points of view, combined with the expertise of Dr. Tamara Wandel and Dr. Darrin Weber, made COVID Between the Coasts a historic time capsule of Midwestern life during the pandemic. It was their contribution that put us in the position to win one of the highest honors in the field of journalism. I know I personally learned a lot by working with them.”

WNIN Vice President of Radio Steve Burger said, “Because of the UE data and research, we were able to focus our coverage within a large survey area and break new ground. For example, our ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? team on the ground in Chicago did valuable reporting on inconsistencies in the national data regarding essential workers. We reported on rural Midwestern communities that previously were not part of the national discussion of the pandemic. We showed the differences in the pandemic’s impact across our survey area.”

“UE is proud to have been part of telling the story of our Midwestern region in the first pandemic in 100 years and highlights the significant contributions that our faculty, staff, and students make every day in our ever-changing world,” said UE President Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “With UE and WNIN working together, we were able to make a difference in a way that we would not have been able to do individually and are delighted by the collaboration. 

Since 1971, the Radio Television Digital News Association has honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with the annual Edward R. Murrow Awards. These awards are among the most prestigious in broadcast news, and recipients demonstrate the spirit of excellence that Murrow set as a standard for the profession of electronic journalism. Winners will be honored at the Murrow Awards Gala in New York City on October 27, 2021.

UE, WNIN Receive National Edward R. Murrow Award

University of Evansville Students Earn Prestigious Edward R. Murrow Awards

A group of University of Evansville (UE) students have been recognized for their work on a community journalism initiative that examines the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Midwest.

The UE ChangeLab project, “COVID Between the Coasts,” is a collaboration between two University courses and National Public Radio member station WNIN.

The project, presented in a podcast format, examined seven Midwestern states through the lens of underrepresented populations grappling with the ongoing pandemic.

Over seven months, Aces led by Drs. Tamara Wandel (communications) and Darrin Weber (mathematics) carried out research, conducted interviews, and compiled data to tell localized and human stories.

“The research and reporting for our podcast is broader and richer as a result of the ChangeLab students’ award-winning work,” said WNIN reporter and producer Sarah Kuper.

“COVID Between the Coasts” earned the Excellence and Innovation and Excellence in Writing in the Region 7 group at the 2021 Edward R. Murrow Awards. Since 1971, the Radio Television Digital News Association has honored outstanding achievements in electronic journalism with annual ceremonies.

 “These are some of the most prestigious journalism awards out there, and I’m so proud of our students for their work on this project,” Wandel said.

“My classmates and I were able to do everything from research to interviewing and script writing,” UE student Nicole Tucker. “These were all things that we didn’t have a lot of experience in but with the help of our professors and WNIN, we were able to create a successful podcast series.”

A compilation of “COVID Between the Coasts” is available online.

ChangeLabs at the University of Evansville are semester-long courses in which students create positive change for businesses, nonprofits, and the community. Guided by expert coaches, multidisciplinary student teams provide services or develop innovative solutions to challenges. In addition to the award-winning “COVID Between the Coasts” collaboration, other ChangeLab projects include a city-wide bike sharing program and a $90,000 solar panel grant for a local community center.

For more information, visit the ChangeLab webpage.

ChangeLab Projects Receive Honorable Mentions at Civvys

Two ChangeLab projects of the University of Evansville (UE) Center for Innovation & Change received honorable mentions at the fourth annual American Civic Collaboration Awards, or Civvys. The event was hosted live from Washington, D.C. on Monday, April 19. 

“We are thrilled to see the positive impact of our student and faculty-led ChangeLab projects recognized not just in our local community, but also at the national level,” said Erin Lewis, director of the Center for Innovation & Change. “Both teams that participated in these award-winning projects worked diligently across disciplines to create powerful change through innovation and inclusion.” 

As an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, UE gives students the opportunity to create a lasting impact in the community through ChangeLabs, which are courses that connect the classroom with the world. Students work together in teams to turn an idea into reality, bringing positive change to businesses, nonprofits, and communities throughout the world. 

The first honorable mention was for “COVID Between the Coasts,” a collaborative ChangeLab project between UE, ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest?, and WNIN. Hypothesizing that news media largely reported on the pandemic from the east and west coasts, this team conducted research to assess COVID-19 exclusively in the Midwest. The project was led by Darrin Weber, PhD, assistant professor of mathematics; and Tamara Wandel, PhD, associate professor of communications. 

Evansville Adaptive Watersports also received an honorable mention at the 2020 Civvys. At UE’s first Community Changemaker Challenge, Philip Jacobs presented a winning idea that would support local residents with disabilities by providing accessibility to watersports. After the event, the ChangeLab project was guided by a team of four undergraduate and graduate UE students: Jamie Born, Jalyn Davis, Brooksie Smith, and Ashlyn Thompson. Evansville Adaptive Watersports successfully launched last fall, and the disabilities served include autism, spina bifida, paraplegic, brain injuries, and more. 

The Civvys highlight best practices in civic collaboration in America, and awards are given at the national, youth, and local levels. The 2020 awards brought a record-setting number of entries, and finalists were selected by the Civvys Review Committee. 

Winners of 6th Annual Changemaker Challenge Announced

Several high school students were awarded significant scholarships on Monday during a virtual awards ceremony for the University of Evansville’s sixth annual High School Changemaker Challenge. The competition was sponsored by Toyota. 

In previous years, the High School Changemaker Challenge has been held in person and open to local students who compete in teams. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s competition was hosted in a virtual format and accepted individual entries from students around the world. 

The High School Changemaker Challenge, supported by the UE Center for Innovation and Change, is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. 

UE awarded first, second, and third place to individuals from each of the two categories: social & environmental justice and health. The scholarship amounts, renewable for a total of four years, are: 

  • 1st place: full tuition  
  • 2nd place: $18,000 tuition and $5,000 housing 
  • 3rd place: $13,000 tuition and $5,000 housing 

Below is a list of the winners of the 2021 High School Changemaker Challenge: 

Social & Environmental Justice 

  • 1st place: Grace Davidson; North High School, Evansville, Indiana; Helping victims of sexual assault receive compassionate care 
  • 2nd place: Ilya Budd; Arcola High School, Arcola, Illinois; Rethinking recycling 
  • 3rd place: Barak Hall; Evansville Christian School, Evansville, Indiana; Sustainable housing 

Additional finalists who competed in this category include: 

  • Evelyn Hipp; Nolensville High School, Nolensville, Tennessee; Helping LGBTQ students feel supported 
  • Mosad Kamal Mohammed; El Sheikh STEM School, El Hamoul City, Egypt; Multifunctional Proteins Classification Model 
  • Blayre Walters; Friends’ Central High School, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Improving mental health for children 
  • Aneesh Alapati; Castle High School, Newburgh, Indiana; Working to end gun violence in Evansville 


  • 1st place: Patricia Solliday; White River Valley High School, Switz City, Indiana; Portable health care for the elderly 
  • 2nd place: Ali Scott; Northeastern High School, Richmond, Indiana; Basic healthcare for K-12 kids in need 
  • 3rd place: Omaima Khan; Signature School, Newburgh, Indiana; Clean needle exchange 

Additional finalists who competed in this category include: 

  • Amanda Deutsch; North High School, Haubstadt, Indiana; Food insecurity 
  • Madison Lucas; Evansville Christian School, Evansville, Indiana; Developing a virtual blood bank 
  • Lydia Preske; Signature School, Evansville, Indiana; Infant formula temperature control 
  • Anish Patel; Woodbridge High School, Irvine, California; The Empowerment Gym 

Virtual High School Changemaker Challenge Offers Full Tuition Scholarships

The University of Evansville is pleased to announce the upcoming sixth annual High School Changemaker Challenge, sponsored by Toyota, will be held virtually this year. Any high school junior or senior in America and around the world is invited to participate for a chance to win one of several four-year, full tuition scholarships.

In previous years, teams of students have submitted projects for the High School Changemaker Competition. This year, due to the difficulties of gathering amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the challenge will seek online entries from individual students and judging will be conducted virtually.

"As an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, we wanted to adapt and find creative ways to make this event possible for high school students," said Erin Lewis, interim director for UE's Center for Innovation & Change. "We believe everyone can be a changemaker, and offering the competition virtually allows anyone in the world to share their idea to create positive change."

A virtual session will launch the event and is scheduled for Friday, November 20, from 12:00-1:00 p.m. The Zoom meeting will be led by Lewis; Zac Parsons, local entrepreneur; and Robert Lopez, a former competitor and current UE student. To register, visit

Students can submit an idea spanning several categories, from health and social justice to environmental and regional issues (ideas tackling something Evansville-specific).

Winning students in each category who choose UE as their college destination will receive four-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below:

  • 1st place: Full tuition
  • 2nd place: $18,000 tuition and $5,000 housing per year
  • 3rd place: $13,000 tuition and $5,000 housing per year

"The High School Changemaker Challenge gives students the opportunity to make their dream a reality," said Jill Griffin, interim vice president for enrollment and marketing. "Our hope is that this competition inspires a generation of youth to think big and positively impact the world around them."

Detailed information is available here. You may contact for questions.

Guatemala Project Advances to Final Round

A University of Evansville student-produced documentary, The Guatemala Project: A Habitat for Humanity Mission, was selected for Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival, an international online film festival. After an initial round of audience voting, the film advanced to the final round at #4.

The documentary was made by Brea Mullen and Amanda Ackerman, junior multimedia communication majors at the University of Evansville. The film was previously awarded a Student Emmy by the Ohio Valley Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

“This project has been such a blessing from the very beginning,” said Mullen. “From its planning phases to now, it has been such a wonderful journey of growth both personally and in terms of beginning a career in filmmaking.”

Each year, students travel the globe with UE’s Habitat for Humanity chapter. In May 2018, Mullen and Ackerman traveled to Guatemala with the group to document the experience and came out with a moving testimonial of life-changing aid that UE Changemakers are providing all over the world.

“This was a life-changing trip for me because I got to experience a new culture and people I had never met before,” Ackerman said. “I stand firmly behind Habitat for Humanity’s mission of changing the world in a positive way, which is something I would like to continue to be a part of for trips to come.”

“In times like these when everyone is so isolated, we can lean on film as a universal connector,” Mullen added. “Habitat for Humanity's mission is all about creating positive change and helping it expand and flourish throughout the world. This project is infused with hope, gratitude, and growth, and our hope is that everyone who has been so generous enough to watch the film is filled with these positive emotions when the end credits roll."

The Guatemala Project has advanced to a final round of judging along with nine other films. Network members and Lift-Off's Official Judges will score the films based on multiple aspects. The film with the highest overall score wins and will be selected to form part of one of the live screenings at an upcoming Lift-Off Film Festival.

The Guatemala Project: A Habitat for Humanity Mission can be viewed on YouTube.

Guatemala Project Advances to Final Round

Winners of the Fifth Annual High School Changemaker Challenge Get Full Tuition to UE

High school students from across the Tri-state were awarded significant scholarships today at UE's fifth annual High School Changemaker Challenge, presented by Toyota Indiana.

The challenge, which is supported by the Center for Innovation and Change, is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity.

The University has committed more than $1 million in scholarships to winners of this competition. Members from the top six winning teams who choose UE as their college destination will each receive 4-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below:

1st place team: Full tuition
Project Oasis
Team Idea: Social grocery store in food desert areas
Team Members: Graham Griffin, Ranny Badreddine, Futallah Hamed
Coach: Jose Mota

2nd place team: $26,000 per year
Team Idea: Device to prevent children from being left in hot cars
Team Members: Lydia Johnson, Isaac Martin, Elijah Jorgensen
Coach: Donna Lefler

3rd place team: $22,000 per year
Working out for a Change
Team Idea: Gyms with equipment that produce and store energy for sustainable use
Team Members: Vivian Valadares, Paxton Mosby, Madeline Erdell
Coach: Jose Mota

Three runner-up teams: $18,000 per year
Food Recovery
Team Idea: Utilizing un-served food to address food insecurity among children
Team Members: Ben Burson, Mary Franklin, Isabella Meier
Coach: Kacey Strange

Power of Composting
Team Idea: Educating to reduct food waste from school lunches
Team Members: Helaena Pfeiffer, Mary Gardner, Chloe Julian
Coach: Brooke Haldeman

Team Idea: Exercise bikes that generate energy to address climate change
Team Members: Krish Gupta, Kaden Merrill
Coach: Jenna Bunner, Haleigh Bennett

18 teams participated in the 2019 High School Changemaker Challenge. Projects from previous competitions can be seen in the city of Evansville, including the Upgrade Bike Share stations and the solar-powered CommuniTree at Mickey's Kingdom Park downtown. Projects still in the development stages include a musical swing set, an emergency response app, an anti-bullying board game, and many more.

Winners of the Fifth Annual High School Changemaker Challenge Get Full Tuition to UE

UE Affirms Commitment to Changemaking with Increased Scholarships for High School Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville reaffirmed its commitment to a culture of changemaking at a press conference today as UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz announced more than $1 million in scholarships for winners of the annual High School Changemaker Challenge starting in 2019.

Members from the top six winning teams who choose UE as their college destination will each receive 4-year scholarships to attend UE as listed below:

  • 1st place team: Full tuition
  • 2nd place team: $26,000 per year
  • 3rd place team: $22,000 per year
  • Three runner-up teams: $18,000 per year

Students who are eligible for more than one UE scholarship will receive the one of highest value.

In years past, members of the first place team received full tuition while second place received $5,000, third place received $2,500, and fourth place received $1,000 toward UE tuition.

"Changemaking is engrained in the UE culture and we provide the support to take ideas from concept to reality," said Pietruszkiewicz. "Our Ace Care pro-bono physical therapy clinic and our record breaking Habitat for Humanity Barn Blitz are just two ways that Aces are positively impacting our community."

UE's High School Changemaker Challenge is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. Projects from previous competitions can be seen in the city of Evansville, including the Upgrade Bike Share stations and the solar-powered CommuniTree at Mickey's Kingdom Park downtown. Projects still in the development stages include a musical swing set, an emergency response app, an anti-bullying board game, and many more.

"The increased scholarships will allow more students access to UE's incredible network of support in order to make lasting change in our community and the world," said Shane Davidson, UE's vice president for enrollment and marketing.

Also new this year, teams can be made up of any combination of high school-aged students from any school-public, private, homeschooled, etc. Coaches are no longer required to be faculty members, and teams will be identified based on their project, not their high school. Teams can also come from anywhere in the country or the world as long as they can be physically present for the on-campus competition.

"As an Ashoka U campus, we believe in the 'everyone a changemaker' philosophy and want as many students as possible to have the means to make positive change," said Pietruszkiewicz.

Registration is now open, and more information can be found on the Changemaker Challenge website. Video submissions are due by Monday, September 9. The top 20 finalists will be notified by Friday, September 13 of their advancement to the final on-campus pitch to be held on Wednesday, October 23 on the UE campus.

Contact for more information.

UE Affirms Commitment to Changemaking with Increased Scholarships for High School Changemaker Challenge

UE's Mad Hot Ballroom wins Celebration of Leadership Award

The University of Evansville's Mad Hot Ballroom program won the Sam Featherstone Award for Projects and Programs at the annual Celebration of Leadership Awards hosted recently  by Leadership Evansville. 

Erin Lewis, associate director for the Center for Innovation and Change at UE, is the club's advisor and Joseph Shoup is president.

University of Evansville Announces Details for the Community Changemaker Challenge

The University of Evansville launched its inaugural Community Changemaker Challenge today during a press conference on the UE campus. This competition’s theme is to Make Evansville More Fun and Exciting, and community members of all ages and backgrounds are invited to form a team.

After a series of initial rounds, the top four teams will each receive $1000 in prize money. Teams will then hone their presentations for the final round—a “Shark-Tank”- style competition to be aired on WNIN. During the televised event, each team will have the opportunity to make a pitch to real community investors for funding up to $10,000.

“We are looking for fun, creative, or interesting new ways to increase the fun factor in our city,” said Jill Griffin, executive director of the Center for Innovation and Change at UE. “Ideas could include events, activities, businesses, art installations, or anything else you can imagine.”

UE has hosted the annual High School Changemaker Challenge since 2015, awarding full-tuition scholarships to members of the winning teams and the Collegiate Changemaker Challenge since 2013, awarding prize money and other incentives to UE students. Both of these programs are designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity.

“UE believes strongly that everyone can be a Changemaker,” said UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz. “To that end, we’re opening the challenge to the entire community this time and inviting people of all ages and walks of life to share their ideas.”

Many Changemaker Challenge projects have already been implemented throughout the Evansville community. The Upgrade Bike Share hubs around the city, solar panels at Carver Community Center, and the CommuniTree at Mickey’s Kingdom all stemmed from these competitions.

“At WNIN, our mission is to deliver engaging public media content that informs, entertains, and inspires,” said Brad Kimmel, president and CEO at WNIN Tri-State Public Media. “A Changemaker Challenge, where everyone in the public has a chance to make their community a little better, directly aligns with this mission, and we’re excited to partner with the University of Evansville.”

In addition to WNIN, other community partners involved in the challenge include the Rotary Club of Evansville, Leadership Evansville, the Evansville African American Museum, and the Growth Alliance of Greater Evansville.

Interested teams are invited to two information sessions in February, and video submissions are due April 8. The top 12 teams will each present at a pitch event on April 30. The top four teams from this event will each receive a prize of $1,000 and will be invited to the WNIN studios on June 7 for the recording of the final televised round where they will pitch their ideas to local community investors for further funding assistance, suggestions, and advice for implementation.

“The Center of Innovation and Change at UE is thrilled to provide another opportunity to get the community working on quality of place initiatives,” said Griffin. “We all have a stake in our community, and we believe that everyone can be a changemaker.”

For more information on the Community Changemaker Challenge, visit


Important information and Community Changemaker Challenge competition dates are as follows:

Tuesday, February 12: Leadership Evansville Kickoff
4:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Join Leadership Evansville for a VOICE session at the Evansville African American Museum. They will help you come up with ideas or hone an idea if you already have one! Refreshments provided and all are welcome.

Tuesday, February 26: Information Session at the University of Evansville
6:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Come to the information session to learn details and discuss strategy for the competition.

Monday, April 8: 60-Second Video Submission Deadline
Email a YouTube link to your team’s 60-second video pitch to by midnight.

Friday, April 12: Top 12 Teams Notified that they’ll be moving forward.

Tuesday, April 30: Top 12 Pitch Event at Innovation Point: Each team will deliver a one-minute pitch and then be available to discuss their ideas further.

Friday, June 7: Final Round and Recording for Televised Show
The top 4 teams will be invited to the WNIN studio to receive their $1,000 prize and to pitch their idea to investors for further funding assistance, suggestions, and advice for implementation.

For more information visit


UE students plan awareness event for Powering Rosa-Bell Project

University of Evansville ChangeLab students are planning an awareness event for their Powering Rosa-Bell project, which will provide solar panel-powered energy for the Rosa-Bell school in Puerto Rico. The event is Tuesday, December 11, at 5:00 p.m. in Room 100 in the Koch Center for Engineering and Science on UE’s campus. It is free and open to the public.

There will be food, prizes, a panel discussion, and trivia games focusing on climate change and the environment, alternative energy, and Puerto Rico. The students will also make presentations about their project, and there will also be an informal discussion of the recent fourth national climate report.

Currently, electricity for the Rosa-Bell school comes from a standard power grid. When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in 2017, the grid lost power causing the school to be out of session for several months. The goal of the Rosa-Bell Project is to raise the money needed to purchase materials for the installation of solar panels, so the school no longer relies on the power grid. It is estimated that electricity generated by solar panels would save the school approximately $5,000 a month. This money could go to new programs, new classroom supplies, and an overall improvement of the school for the students.

UE Changee Award Winners Announced

The University of Evansville’s inaugural Changee Awards ceremony was Sunday, October 28, in Eykamp Hall in Ridgway University Center on UE’s campus. The formal event, sponsored by Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Indiana and Berkshire Hathaway real estate agent Philip R. Hooper, honored those in the UE community who have been outstanding changemaking catalysts.

Erin Lewis, associate director for UE’s Center for Innovation & Change, said that the University was “excited about the opportunity to recognize and celebrate the incredible changemakers among our staff, students, and faculty and community partners. While we hope it becomes an annual event, we are so grateful to be able to do it this year, the year UE became an Ashoka Changemaker Campus.”

Those receiving awards included:

  • CommuniTree - Community Initiative of the Year
  • Holly Carter, UE director of education abroad and Harlaxton programs - Changemaker Staff Member of the Year                                                          
  • Angela Reisetter, UE associate professor of physics - Changemaker Faculty Member of the Year
  • Hannah Jaramillo, UE student – Changemaker Student of the Year
  • E Cubed ChangeLab Team – Changemaker Student Team of the Year
  • Bushara Ahmed, UE student – Center for Innovation & Change Award
  • Ace Care, pro bono physical therapy clinic run by UE doctor of physical therapy students - Changemaker University Initiative of the Year
  • Mike Labitzke, deputy director of program management, Evansville Water and Sewer – Community Changemaker of the Year
  • Honeymoon Coffee Company -  Community Business Partner of the Year                                                            
  • Mark Valenzuela, UE director of institutional effectiveness – Global Changemaker of the Year
  • LaNeeca Williams, UE chief diversity officer – Changemaker Inclusion Award

Students from North High School win Full Tuition at UE's High School Changemaker Challenge

Three students from North High School won full tuition to the University of Evansville today during the fourth annual High School Changemaker Challenge.

Ashlyn Thompson, Jaylyn Davis, and Jamie Born came up with an idea for a musical swing set that would serve as a stress reliever and community builder in downtown Evansville. The team researched what it would take to make their idea become a reality and presented to a panel of judges.

Each member of the winning team will receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the University of Evansville. Scholarships will also be awarded to the second, third, and fourth ranked teams per student ($5,000, $2,500, and $1,000 respectively for four years):

Winning teams included:

  • 4th place: Castle High School: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Team
  • 3rd place: Castle High School: Hope Park Team
  • 2nd Place: Bosse High School: Filtering Wetland Park
  • 1st Place: North High School: Musical Swing Set

Championship round judges included Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, UE president Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz and other community leaders.

UE's High School Changemaker Challenge is designed to motivate young people to take a leading role in identifying and solving challenges in the world around them through innovation and creativity. High school students are invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of community leaders and compete for scholarships to UE where they can come to get the support needed to make their ideas become a reality.

This year, 18 teams from the following high schools competed: North, Evansville Day School, Heritage Hills, Bosse, New Tech Institute, Forest Park, Signature School, Evansville Christian School, Mater Dei, Castle, Central, Boonville, and Charles A. Tindley Academy.

The High School Changemaker Challenge was made possible this year by the Rotary Club of Evansville. Proceeds from the 2017 Rotary Club Santa Run went to support the Changemaker Challenge. 

UE Ranked Number 7 Best College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report

The University of Evansville has been named seventh best college in the Midwest in U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges rankings. UE has risen two spots in this year’s overall ranking, and was again named as one of the top 10 value colleges in the Midwest.

The University was also recognized as one of the Most Innovative Schools in the Midwest for the first time. Top college officials from across the country made nominations for this list, selecting institutions known for making the most innovative improvements in curriculum, faculty, campus life, technology, or facilities.

In May 2018, UE was designated as a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U for its role as a leader in social innovation and changemaking in higher education. UE is the first Changemaker Campus in Indiana.

The University was listed on several other U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges lists this year. UE’s Schroeder School of Business was named the number three best undergraduate business school in the nation among small private colleges, with its accounting and finance programs coming in at number one and number two respectively.

The College of Engineering and Computer Science was named the number 25 best undergraduate engineering school in the nation among small private colleges with no doctorate.  

The University was also recognized as the number six Best College for Veterans in the Midwest and a Top Midwest School for International Students and remains a Top 10 Best Value college.

Infographic. Details of graphic appear as text in the news article.

“To be recognized nationally on so many levels speaks volumes about the great programs, great people, and great qualities of this University,” said Shane Davidson, vice president for enrollment and marketing at UE. “We are especially proud of making the most innovative list—innovation and changemaking are at the heart of the UE experience.”

The U.S. News & World Report rankings are designed to help prospective students and their families evaluate college choices. The Best Colleges rankings are available online at and will be published in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges 2019 guidebook, on newsstands later this month.

UE's Mark Valenzuela Breaks World Record for Tallest Tower of Tortillas at UE ChangeFest 2018

UE’s Mark Valenzuela broke the world record for stacking the tallest tower of tortillas on Friday, September 7 during UE Changefest 2018. He not only broke the existing record of 68 centimeters, but went on to set a new record of 75 centimeters before his tower fell. 

This was Mark's second attempt. In last year's attempt, his tower toppled just short of the world record.

"Mark exemplifies the characteristics of changemaking that UE stands for," said Jill Griffin, executive director for the Center for Innovation and Change at UE. "He had the courage to set a bold goal for a good cause and wasn't deterred by his initial failure." 

ChangeFest is held annually to raise awareness for the positive change that Aces are making in the community and the world. This year's themed booths, salsa dancing lessons, record breaking tortilla tower, and more revolved around the theme to bring awareness for UE's upcoming Habitat for Humanity trip to Mexico.

Mark smiling next to the tortillas and a photo of the record breaking stack.

“People have been asking me, 'what does it feel like to hold a world record?'" "said Valenzuela. "It feels great, especially after the failed attempt last year. But really it all just started out as a way to bring attention to a Habitat for Humanity Global Village trip to Guatemala that happened in May 2018. And now we're off to Mexico in May 2019. If we get as good a group of students going in May as we had in Guatemala, then I would really feel a sense of accomplishment!”

Valenzuela is the associate vice president for academic affairs and is also teaching a ChangeLab course this semester in which students are exploring the use of tiny hones as a source of affordable housing. He recently moved into his current role after teaching in the mechanical and civil engineering department for 19 years. 

UE's Mark Valenzuela Breaks World Record for Tallest Tower of Tortillas at UE ChangeFest 2018

UE’s ACE³ Program Named Finalist in National Competition

The University of Evansville’s Access to Capital and Expertise for Emerging Entrepreneurs (ACE³) program has been selected as a Pioneer (finalist) in the Unlocking ₵hange Challenge: Innovations for Financial Wellbeing, Resilience, and Freedom. This nationwide competition seeks to find and support leading social entrepreneurs and innovators across the country.

The ACE³ program was one of 10 finalists chosen out a group of 140 entries. The four Champions (winners) of the challenge will be announced on Oct 3. Each winner will receive $50,000 to support their programs.

Representatives of ACE³ will soon be going to New York to attend the Unlocking ¢hange Challenge event. While there, they will have the opportunity to network, participate in workshops, and discuss the Ace³ program, sponsored by Old National Bank.

The challenge is a collaboration between BNY Mellon, an American worldwide banking and financial services holding company, and Ashoka, the world’s largest group of social entrepreneurs and changemakers.

The University of Evansville was recently named a Changemaker Campus by Ashoka U, an Ashoka initiative. UE received the recognition due to its leadership in social innovation and changemaking in higher education. It’s one of 50 universities world-wide with this distinction and the first in Indiana.

The ACE³ program is sponsored, funded, and co-managed by Old National Bank and is located in the Schroeder School of Business’s Institute for Banking and Finance under the direction of Yasser Alhenawi, UE associate professor of finance. ACE³ manages a $100,000 portfolio, which offers microloans to women, minority, and disadvantaged owned businesses. Students interface with clients, review business plans, and serve as underwriters for loans.

“ACE³ gives students the opportunity to gain invaluable skills and real-world experience while making a positive impact in the community,” said Greg Rawski, Schroeder Family Dean.

The Schroeder School of Business is the nation’s fastest riser (+38 places) in the 2018 U.S. News & World Report Best Undergraduate Business Programs and is ranked Number 4 among small private business schools nationally.

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