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Vaccine Idea Challenge to
Support Underserved Communities


April 19, 2021 — Northern Kentucky University is challenging regional college students to pitch their big idea on how to get accurate and timely COVID-19 vaccination information to medically underserved communities.

Hosted by NKU’s Institute for Health innovation, the Vaccine Idea Challenge calls for creative strategies that ensure equity and increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Teams of students and advisors are invited to propose solutions that accelerate outreach and overcome vaccination barriers to one or more medically underserved populations, such as communities of color, immigrant populations, those who are housing insecure, rural communities and those for whom English is a second language.

“Finding the proper outlet that fully engages any of these communities is an ongoing challenge,” said Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, executive director of the IHI and vice president for Health Innovation at NKU. “Some hesitate to accept medical care; others are disengaged from communication streams or lack access to transportation and the internet. We need proactive solutions to remedy these challenges so that we can reach all of our residents and support them in making well-informed decisions about vaccination.”

Participating teams will promote their ideas in five-minute videos for a chance to win cash prizes ranging from $250 to $2,000. Finalists will compete in a live virtual event on April 26 and pitch their proposals to a panel of judges from the IHI, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, the Northern Kentucky Health Department and community leaders representing the underserved.

The deadline to submit proposals is April 20. Community members are invited to virtually join the live pitch competition on April 26 at 5 p.m. and can register here. To learn more about how NKU is ensuring equity and increasing access to the COVID-19 Vaccination, visit the Idea Challenge website.

About NKU: Founded in 1968, NKU is an entrepreneurial state university of over 16,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus nestled between Highland Heights, Kentucky and bustling downtown Cincinnati. We are a regionally engaged university committed to empowering our students to have fulfilling careers and meaningful lives. While we are one of the fastest-growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information, visit