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IACT: Creativity for Tomorrow

Making an Impact with IACT

By Kelly Hines ‘20 and Abby Hines ‘20

Since 2015, IACT (Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation) has been working every summer with investors, mentors, and members of the greater Dayton community to collaborate and address societal challenges.  As this summer internship program has evolved over the years, it has consistently focused on small cohorts of students from different disciplines of study, collaborating in a unique experiential learning environment. Last spring on Giving Day, IACT received a gift from a donor that would go on to fund the Institute’s summer program for the next three years. 

The donation was contributed by Leib Lurie (CEO of Kids Read Now), who himself has creatively collaborated and problem-solved throughout his career to find innovations in communication. He is dedicated to providing access to literacy materials and tools for K-12 students and as part of the gift students in the program will contribute to and build upon this work.  As IACT executive director Brian LaDuca stated, “[Leib] has seen the value in our work, has stepped up and said ‘I want to be able to help move these students forward.’”

Not only do gifts like Lurie’s help empower the young students of Dayton; they allow Flyers to learn more about themselves as professionals and citizens, and can inform their expressions of humanity moving forward. Programs and gifts such as this create an important space in which young adults can educate themselves on the world around them and see how they can support necessary social change. Furthermore, it’s a time for students to break free from their disciplinary silos and access new ways of thinking and learning, encouraging a collaborative and creative approach to very real human problems. When asked what his personal takeaways from the summer were, 2019 Collaboration Accelerator participant Jared Marsh answered, “this program is so different than any other project I have ever worked on…It’s a much more holistic approach.”

And the students who engaged with last summer’s literacy challenge can attest to all that they have gained from the summer; a current senior and pre-med student, Leigh Roberts, explained that she “gained a deeper knowledge of the challenges that educators and the public face related to literacy and early childhood development, and that is very valuable to [her] as a future health professional.” Their goals, instead of revolving around solely raising children’s reading levels, saw that children’s literature, and thus social-emotional learning, could fill an important need for empathy and human connection.

Not only did the Accelerators gain a deeper understanding of the effects of literacy, familial support, and skill reinforcement in children’s social and emotional development, but were able to identify the use of closed captioning as a humanity-centered response to the challenge. The deliverables included  a proposed integration of closed captioning, or visual literacy, throughout the Dayton public area to offer free, accessible opportunities for learning outside of the classroom, coupled with other educational activities and reinforcement beyond the classroom where guardians and children can engage together.  Such solidarity and recognition is clearly more relevant than ever, as Leib Lurie himself pointed out that K-12 students in Dayton don’t always have access to novel new learning processes and may not be able to afford the creativity they deserve, adding that “the people [of IACT] are setting the stage for change.”

Looking forward, the IACT team seeks to pivot the established Collaboration Accelerator program to make it more accessible to students seeking summer work, while maintaining the same focus on creative thinking and innovative discourse. Now called the IACT Summer Micro-Internship, it will continue to function as a professional internship opportunity that integrates non-linear problem solving, cross-disciplinary collaboration, and vocation-centered creative design. The focus for the 2020 program will be continued work on literacy as well as supporting ongoing projects connected to the IACT certificate program and the GEMnasium. 

This experience of collaboration and empathetic problem-solving has been at the core of IACT since its inception, providing undergraduate students at UD the opportunity to gain perspective on the Dayton community and be part of relevant social innovation. And, as IACT executive director Brian LaDuca shared, “[Lurie and his support are] a catalyst for the future work we have.” It is the generosity and dreams of visionaries like Leib Lurie which pave the path for change. 

For more information about IACT, visit


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