Main Street Grand Forks Challenge to Award $50,000 for Civic Innovators

GRAND FORKS, ND (APRIL 20, 2018) Evolve Grand Forks and the University of North Dakota are partnering to launch the Main Street Grand  Forks Challenge. The first-of-its-kind program will provide $50,000 in cash and in-kind prizes to UND or  Grand Forks high school students to address social issues and spur civic engagement at a grassroots level. 

Students are invited to propose community-enhancing projects falling within Governor Doug Burgum’s Main  Street Initiative pillars of healthy, vibrant communities; smart, efficient infrastructure; and 21st century workforce. Of particular interest are projects that would connect UND to downtown Grand Forks or focus on  addiction and recovery.  

“We are extremely excited to be partnering with the University of North Dakota on this and have seen  broad community buy-in from both public- and private-sector partners and sponsors who want to support  this initiative,” said Evolve Grand Forks’s Executive Director Collin T. Hanson. 

“This program provides a conduit for local college and high school students to shape the community that  they want to live in, and we believe that supporting our future civic leaders will benefit community connectedness and retention,” said Hanson. 

Up to $5,000 will be given to each finalist to work on their projects this summer, along with other such  benefits as UND scholarships, on-campus housing, and memberships to the 701 Coworking Space by Evolve  Grand Forks. Each winner will be paired with a civic mentor who will advise on project development. 

“The Main Street GF Challenge is a prime example of the Main Street Initiative’s grassroots effort to enhance every community in North Dakota,” said Burgum. “This challenge gives Grand Forks students the  opportunity to take their dreams for the community and turn them into reality. In addition, this partnership  between the public, private and nonprofit sectors underscores how collaboration is key to creating and  maintaining healthy, vibrant communities across North Dakota.” 

The project directly aligns with UND President Mark Kennedy’s One UND strategic plan, which includes an  emphasis on experiential learning opportunities. “What better way for UND to fulfill its purpose to be the  chief opportunity engine for our state and students than to provide experiential learning opportunities that  enhance the quality of life for our region and state,” said Kennedy.  

Three high school students and six UND students will be awarded the opportunity to pursue their innovative  solutions with community and financial support. Applications are currently being accepted until May 11  through, with projects to begin as early as June 1.