Skip to main content

2022 Innovation Accelerator Awards 


Perhaps no issues are more important to human health, economic development, environmental conservation/protection, and peace and security than water and sanitation. The Water Institute and the Conflict Management Initiative at UNC are collaborating to provide awards to undergraduate students who wish to take practical steps in managing issues surrounding challenges in the areas of environmental justice, drinking water, sanitation, transboundary water, peace, and security, be it on a local-, state-, national-, regional- or global-level. 

Awards in the amount ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 for projects developed during the latter part of the spring semester, undertaken full-time during summer 2022, and completed in the Fall semester will be provided to undergraduate students who can demonstrate both a commitment to and substantive actions on any of the above issues with a focus on water or sanitation. These could involve formative research aligned with the topic areas, designing and/or leading workshops, instigating/supporting/facilitating dialogue between opposing groups, providing solutions to immediate and non-immediate problems, organizing an environmental risk assessment, conducting field sampling etc. The student is encouraged but not required to develop the project as part of their experiential or capstone requirement. The student will be expected to provide a final proposal, report, or presentation as part of their work. 

As a first step, interested students will submit a one-page proposal not to exceed 500 words single-spaced to Manal Khan at by February 18, 2022. In the proposal, applicants should include: 

Project title 

Name (or names) of student(s) leading the project 

Description of the project 

Proposed budget (can include reasonable summer stipend) 

Plan for community, faculty, and/or collaborative engagement; and 

Project deliverables 

The student must also attach their resume (no more than 2 pages) which should include any related experience with the topic area of their proposal. 

A committee will review these proposals, make second round selections, and reach out to selected students requesting a more in-depth proposal. 

Awards will be provided to those who are successful following the second application round. Funds will be provided in the form of a research budget overseen by an assigned faculty mentor appointed by the review committee that will allow the student to plan, conduct, and complete the project by the end of the fall 2022 semester. Students who will be enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill during fall 2022 are eligible to apply. 

The goal of the Water Institute is to improve global water security through research, policy, and practice. The goal of the Conflict Management Initiative is to provide the Carolina community with tools necessary to bridge the gap between individuals, organizations, religions, and nations who view the world from different perspectives. Applicants for these awards are asked to find ways using sound science and evidence and/or community engagement to improve and bridge the gap among individuals and societies who find themselves in conflict around water. 

For questions, please contact Manal Khan (