Congratulations to Social Entrepreneurs and Seniors at University of Pennsylvania Selamawit Bekele and Antoinette Zoumanigui on receiving $99,900 through the President’s Engagement Prize for Project Y.V.E.T.A.

“Project Y.V.E.T.A. will contribute toward building economic resilience for a generation representing not only Senegal’s, but Africa’s future,” said Antoinette Zoumanigui, Class of 2017 at University of Pennsylvania.

“Centered on skill development and accessible quality education will help drive Senegal’s long-term economic stability while providing the country’s at-risk adolescents with the tools they need to become socially integrated, prosperous, and productive members of their society.” said Selamawit Bekele, Class of 2017 at University of Pennsylvania

Project Y.V.E.T.A. received $99,900 through the President’s Engagement Prize, which was established by Penn President Amy Gutmann and supported by Trustee Judith Bollinger and William G. Bollinger, Trustee Lee Spelman Doty and George E. Doty Jr., and Emeritus Trustee James S. Riepe and Gail Petty Riepe. Competitively awarded on an annual basis, the President’s Engagement Prizes enable Penn seniors to design and undertake local, national, or global engagement projects during the first year after they graduate. The Prizes award up to $100,000 to implement projects and $50,000 for living expenses for recipients.

For Project Y.V.E.T.A., the Prize covers the costs of setting up the school’s classrooms and administrative spaces, including furniture and materials, as well as the farming equipment needed to propel the program through two harvest seasons.

“Our farm operations will generate income to sustain our programs and provide food for the children we educate,” Zoumanigui says, “and their families.”

Zoumanigui and Bekele hope Project Y.V.E.T.A. becomes a platform for both action and conversation about the plight of the children it will serve. But, it all started with attending an information session about the President’s Engagement Prize.

Bekele and Zoumanigui hope the project will serve as a model for sustainable education. When the young men become business-savvy farmers who can financially support themselves through agriculture, it will be a new way of addressing a problem that has continued for decades.

Apply for the President’s Engagement Prize: Upcoming information sessions on the President’s Engagement Prize are scheduled for Oct. 13 and 26; and information sessions for the President’s Innovation Prize are scheduled for Oct. 20 and 31 and Nov. 10, 13, and 16. The application deadline for the 2018 President’s Engagement Prizes and President’s Innovation Prize is Friday, Jan. 19, 2018.

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