The Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts & Wellness Innovation Awards build sustainable models for arts and wellness innovation across the Central Florida community and UCF campus. The two awards of $25,000 each are given annually to projects that are focused on interdisciplinary collaboration and sustainable, evidence-based community initiatives.

2022-23 Theme: No Place Like Home

Envision a world where communities can flourish and thrive through the intersection of arts and wellness. Shared experiences, access, and community engagement promote physical, mental and social wellbeing and strengthen our collective communities – the places we call home. Place and environment have long been prominent in arts and cultural production and studies have shown that poverty, socio-economic attainment, inequities in economic mobility and life expectancy are highly correlated with place. How can we expand and improve our sense of place and communities through the power of arts and wellness?

The 2022-23 Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts & Wellness Innovation Awards proposals should be focused on collaboration with organizations, diverse communities or populations to strengthen our sense of place through arts and wellness. In a society affected by a global pandemic, social and racial reckoning and divisive political rhetoric, the multidisciplinary approach of arts and wellness in our communities can enhance experiences to help heal our collective health, mind and body. Whether introducing a new initiative, a pivot in a new direction or advancing an existing program to grow community impact, proposals for this award should seek solutions to help our local, national and global communities heal.

2022-23 Winners:

Pegasus PlayLab: Building a Shared Home

  • Julia Listengarten, Pegasus Professor, artistic director and graduate program director in the School of Performing Arts
  • Rebecca Hines, associate professor in the College of Community Education and Innovation
  • Kim Wehagen, area director of Best Buddies
  • Keri Watson, associate professor in the School of Visual Arts and Design
  • Vandy Wood, associate professor in the School of Performing Arts
  • Elizabeth Kinchen, associate professor in the College of Nursing
  • Sage Tokach ’22MFA, guest artist and Director of Education at New London Barn Playhouse

Shifting STEM Perception: A Community Approach to Increasing STEM Participation and Persistence in Low-income, BIPOC Communities

  • Brandan Lanman, vice president of Visitor Experience at Orlando Science Center
  • Jo Anne Adams, graduate coordinator for emerging media MFA – animation and visual effects and instructor at UCF School of Visual Arts and Design
  • Andrea Guzmán, Vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, The Ginsburg Center for Inclusion and Community Engagement Office of Diversity Education and Training

Pabst Steinmetz winners.



Organizations or individuals looking for project partners should reach out to Azela Santana ([email protected]).

Award Criteria

  • Initiatives should be interdisciplinary, sustainable and address the theme.
  • Community-focused: Applicants must work in partnership with a community organization.
  • Cross-disciplinary: Applicants must involve the UCF College of Arts and Humanities and at least one other college, unit or center at the University of Central Florida in each submission.
  • All programs, initiatives or projects must contain an evaluation framework in the style of a logic model, including planning elements and intended effects. See an example of a logic model from the CDC.

Application & Selection Process

  • Applications are due Friday, December 16, 2022 at noon.
  • The selection committee comprises a representative from the UCF College of Arts and Humanities, the UCF College of Nursing and the UCF College of Medicine, as well as up to three at-large Central Florida community members.
  • If a team is selected as the winner, the team leader will receive the award.
  • Awardees will be announced in late January 2023.
  • Preview the application questions here.
Apply Online

Past Projects

Acting Out JusticeMind Matters: Building Social-Emotional Resiliency for High School Students Through Theater (2021)

Mind Matters builds upon Act Out Justice, a youth theatre for social change program created through a partnership with the Orlando Repertory Theatre. The project brings together researchers in the School of Performing Arts and the Department of Psychology to create theatre programming that supports high school students’ mental and socio-emotional health through the Covid-19 pandemic. Researchers and community partners aimed to conduct listening sessions with high school theatre teachers, create new short plays about mental health, develop curriculum to support the plays and launch an open-source website featuring the project curriculum, resources and a published anthology of plays.

Strengthening Hospital Nurses' Mental Health ResilienceStrengthening Hospital Nurses’ Mental Health Resilience Through a Peer Support Training Program Using Comic Testimonials (2021)

This project brings together Department of Writing and Rhetoric and College of Nursing faculty to enhance UCF RESTORES’ healthcare worker peer support training program, REACT, through comic testimonials produced by hospital nurses. Drawing on the graphic medicine and comic therapy movements, the project aims to support mental wellness in nurses navigating stressful work conditions. The project involves three steps: a series of workshops to train area hospital nurses in creating autographical comics about their experiences, adaptation of the REACT workshop materials for acute care nurses and incorporating the autobiographical comics into workshop’s case scenarios and using the comics in cultural competency training for mental health specialists who would assist nurses with more severe mental health stress and trauma.

Advocating for Aphasia: Using the Performing Arts to Create a Conscious Community (2020)

Advocating for Aphasia brought together the School of Performing Arts, the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and the Department of Psychology to empower people with aphasia, a condition characterized by a reduced ability to speak, understand, read and write. The project aimed to empower people with aphasia to develop self-advocacy through sharing their stories. These stories were compiled into an educational video to better educate and improve interactions with first responders, who may have trouble understanding people with aphasia.

Positive Parenting FablesFables versus Urban Legends: Storytelling about Vaccines at the Intersection of Ethnography and Epidemiology  (2020)

Building on the ongoing success of the 2018 Positive Parenting Fables project, Fables versus Urban Legends united researchers from the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Nursing and College of Sciences to educate new parents about the importance of timely infant vaccinations. Upon discovering that different ethnolinguistic groups express starkly different concerns regarding vaccines, the researchers are creating research-informed, multilingual, animated fables to counter misapprehensions and promote improved understanding in public health.

Girl sits in a wheelchair testing equipmentProject Xavier Hands-free Training Game (2019)

Project Xavier brought together UCF artists, game designers and engineers, as well as the Mayo Clinic of Jacksonville, to provide mobility solutions for a population with limited or no mobility. With EMG sensors placed on the side of the forehead, patients were able to control a powered wheelchair. Funding for the project allowed the research team to gamify a training instrument that helps patients become more proficient at controlling the device. Preliminary clinical trials led to improvements in the engineering of the controller. These changes will be implemented when the game is presented to patients in the near future.

Creative Approaches to Combat HIV Stigma and Discrimination from Health Providers (2019)

Creative Approaches to Combat HIV Stigma and Discrimination from Health Providers brought together researchers from the College of Nursing and College of Arts and Humanities, along with the Southern HIV and Alcohol Research Consortium, Central Florida HIV service providers and people living with HIV, to collect and analyze data about stigmatizing interactions between HIV care providers and patients. Using findings from interviews and focus groups, they are producing short, scenario-based videos and comics that quickly and impactfully illustrate the forms that stigma can take in provider-client communication, the impact of stigma on patients and alternatives to stigmatizing language. With guidance from the partner organizations, these materials will be incorporated in education and training for UCF students and area physicians/providers.

The Arts and AgingThe Arts and Aging: An Interdisciplinary and Intergenerational Initiative (2018)

As Central Florida’s population ages, new initiatives are needed to make sure elderly residents are happy and healthy. The Arts and Aging brought together the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Medicine and the Atlantic Center for the Arts to demonstrate how the literary and performing arts can have a positive impact on elderly well-being. The project incorporated the ACA’s Creative Caregiving program into the Big Read, a nationwide program that encourages reading for pleasure. Theatre students taking the course “Health & Wellness for the Performing Arts” worked with caregivers and their care partners at the ACA’s Harris House.

Fables versus Urban Legends“Positive Parenting” Fables (2018)

In this project, the Modern Languages and Literatures Department partnered with the College of Sciences and the School of Visual Arts and Design to support new mothers in the postpartum recovery period. To combat the stress and confusion that this period of time often brings, researchers created multilingual, award-winning “Positive Parenting” animations that use memorable fictions and fables to present the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s seven tips for parenting infants from birth to year one.