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Audience chooses ETSU Elevates winners

Contributed • Feb 7, 2020 at 3:52 PM

The competition was fierce, but three teams were successful in convincing spectators that their service projects were worthy of $5,000 service grants from East Tennessee State University to fund projects aimed at improving the lives of people across the region.

Now it is time for the winners — Unicoi County Animal Shelter, the International Storytelling Center and Girls Inc. of Johnson City/Washington County — to begin implementing their projects.

Last week, five teams were drawn from a pool of applicants to present their service project ideas at the ETSU Elevates Pitch Competition at the Millennium Center. Teams had seven minutes to present and then answered questions from the audience. At the conclusion of the pitches, each audience member physically present was eligible to vote and determine the three winners.

The Unicoi County Animal Shelter Critter Crew earned the most points and will use the $5,000 grant to create more room for incoming animals. Volunteers from the Unicoi County Animal Shelter will work with faculty, staff and students from ETSU to complete the “UCAS Expansion for the Critters,” which has the potential to save thousands of cats and kittens.

SHEroes came in second place and will receive $5,000 toward their curriculum of workshops and activities, called “The SHEro's Journey,” for ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) affected adolescent-aged females in the region. The International Storytelling Center is teaming up with Dr. Donna Cherry from the ETSU Department of Social Work and others to introduce girls in the program to empowerment messages found in stories involving strong female characters through traditional storytelling, engaging new media and hands-on activities.

The third-place winner, Inspiring Girls to Become Engineers, aims to spark girls’ interest in Engineering and Technology. The Department of Engineering, Engineering Technology and Surveying at ETSU and the student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers will join forces with Girls Inc. of Johnson City/Washington County. Together, they will use the $5,000 grant to host a series of events to bring members of Girls Inc. to campus to inspire the next generation of engineers.

The two teams that did not receive ETSU Elevates service grants, Tree Team and ART: Blue Plum Gives Back and Johnson City Public Arts, remain eligible for future competitions, along with previous applicants. These and any new applications submitted by the next deadline, Feb. 10 at 10 p.m., will be considered for the February ETSU Elevates drawing. Three more service grants of $5,000 each will be awarded at the next ETSU Elevates Pitch Competition on Thursday, Feb. 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the ETSU Millennium Center ballroom.

ETSU President Brian Noland launched this initiative last fall on the anniversary of the East Tennessee State Normal School dedication, Oct. 10, 1911. Through ETSU Elevates, $90,000 will be awarded to fund service projects across the region. Teams consisting of at least one member of the ETSU community (faculty, staff, students, organizations, departments, colleges) and surrounding community (individuals, non-profits, faith-based organizations, schools, civic groups etc.) are eligible to submit applications outlining how they would use ETSU Elevates service grants to elevate their projects and the region.

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