Skip to main content

Students Compete for Grants in Community Impact Challenge

Finalist teams for the third annual Community Impact Challenge will make their pitches at 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, for a chance to win a grant to put into action their ideas to address challenges facing the Emporia community.

The CIC is a grant competition that seeks to inspire students of Emporia State University to make an impact on challenges facing the community. Four teams of ESU students, each with three to five members, were selected as finalists among the applicants to present their ideas before a panel of judges.

This year’s judges include: Blythe Eddy, director of student activities and community service who works in Emporia State’s Center for Student Involvement; Chris Loghry, director of debate and an instructor in the Department of Communication & Theatre; Rachel Castro, senior communication major and former winner of the CIC; Shelby Perez, an ESU alumna and current assistant director of inclusion and wellness programs at Baker University; and Mickey Edwards, executive director of the United Way of the Flint Hills.

For the finals, teams will record 10-12 minute presentations about their proposed solution to address a pressing challenge facing the Emporia community. Then the panel of judges will choose a winner among the finalists. The winning team will receive a $500 grant to carry out its proposed solution, which must be completed by May 2021. The CIC is sponsored by Community Hornets, Department of Communication and Theatre and the Honors College at Emporia State.

The CIC aims to inspire students of ESU to participate in community engagement. The finalists have proposed to work with local organizations to develop meaningful and creative solutions to real-life community issues. This year’s finalists are addressing community challenges such as food insecurity, physical and mental health, and women and children in crisis, all of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year there are four finalist teams: The Student Art Therapy Organization, The KDP Mask Tree Committee, Reading Hornets Against Hunger, and The Breakfast Club.

The Student Art Therapy Organization hopes to combat anxiety and depression related to COVID-19 among ESU students by hosting an outdoor community art-making event, where ESU students can decorate a plain cloth mask with fabric markers for free. They hope this will help bring people together in a fun and safe way, while also promoting mask mandates and allowing students to express themselves artistically.

The KDP Mask Tree Committee is part of the Iota Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an international honor society in education. They are putting up mask trees around Emporia State's campus and other campuses in the Emporia school district. The mask trees would allow students and faculty to safely acquire clean and reusable cloth masks for free. They are hoping this will encourage people to wear clean masks and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Reading Hornets Against Hunger is committed to fighting hunger and raising literacy scores across the city of Emporia. They are creating a resource list that is accessible for students to get free or low-cost meals.

The Breakfast Club is focused on aiding women in crisis in the Emporia community. They plan on doing this by aiding local women's shelters by providing donations. They decided to do this because many non-profit organizations have been struggling financially in the wake of Covid-19, and they want to have a lasting impact.

Members of the community can learn more about these efforts by tuning into the CIC Finals. Anyone can watch the final presentations and announcement of finalists by visiting Hornet Virtual Events ( at 5 p.m. Oct. 29. This virtual event will allow community members the opportunity to meet the finalists and see what solutions they have to offer.

Previous winners of the CIC have included Hygienic Hornets, an initiative led by students Haylee Weissenbach, Marisleysis Velazquez, and Boone Dodson that focused on providing students in need in Emporia Public Schools with a gift bag filled with personal hygiene products; and Bag-A-Birthday, an effort led by students Rachel Castro, Delaney Dold, and Genevieve Lowery to provide low-income families in Emporia with supplies to celebrate a child’s birthday.

For more information on the Community Impact Challenge, please go to