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IACT Accelerator students focus on social innovation

Seven University of Dayton students are working this summer to find creative solutions to real-world challenges focused on education, literacy and issues of food justice and sustainability in partnership with local organizations such as Learn to Earn, Holy Angels School, Miami Valley Life Alliance and others.

The University's IACT Collaboration Accelerator, which provides an intense eight-week experiential learning opportunity, allows undergraduates from different academic backgrounds — including business, science, education, human rights and mathematics — to work across their disciplines on complex challenges such as how to better empower families to positively influence their child's development. 

"We might not solve the problem," said sophomore Cahlil Byrd, a mathematics major. "But we can develop the process to find the solution."

For the first time this summer, the Accelerator is backed by a financial gift allowing students to focus on community issues that might otherwise go unaddressed. The donation from the Kids Read Now Foundation, a Troy, Ohio-based nonprofit created to help eliminate the summer reading slide among children in kindergarten through third grades, with CEO Leib Lurie funds the Accelerator for the next three years. 

"The Accelerator is important because it gives students the space and time to apply innovative ideas to challenges focused on people — whether it's how schools can better enable teachers to collaborate in ways that improve student learning, or how a community can better ensure the sustainability of a program that helps people, including those recovering from drug addiction, re-enter the workforce," said Brian LaDuca, executive director of the Institute of Applied Creativity for Transformation (IACT). "At the same time students are tackling these complex community questions, they are learning creative skills and putting them into practice. They are building the confidence they need to rethink traditional models and solutions in ways that will benefit them once they enter the workforce and for the rest of their lives."

Senior Leigh Roberts, a pre-medicine student, said her work with the Accelerator is helping her learn skills that will be important in her health care career.

"Health care needs to be more collaborative," Roberts said. "We can get into silos and talk only from our expertise. However, this experience allows me to get perspectives from so many people like business majors, human rights majors and others. It shows that I'm actively trying to pursue that vision for health care that's collaborative but very difficult to achieve."

More information on the Accelerator is available on the University's website.


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