Skip to main content

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.

2023-24 Theme: Unleashing Potential

Amplifying the power of knowledge and discovery, the University of Central Florida unleashes the potential of our students, faculty, staff, and community. As a next-generation public research institute, we are an inclusive community of thinkers, doers, creators, innovators, healers, and leaders striving to shape the future and solve the world’s most challenging problems.

UCF is one of the most innovative universities in the country, inspired by boundless optimism. We are emboldened in our pursuit of excellence and steadfast in our commitment to access and opportunity. And we believe strongly that potential exists in every individual and organization.

Shared experiences, access, and community engagement promote physical, mental and social wellbeing and strengthen our collective communities and the individuals within them. How can we “Unleash Potential” through the intersection of arts and wellness?

The 2023-24 Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts & Wellness Innovation Awards proposals should be focused on collaboration with organizations, diverse communities or populations to help them realize their full potential. 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 be the best they can be.

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 8, 2023 at noon.The deadline for complete applications has been extended to December 15 at noon, however, applicants must submit an “Intent to Apply” by the original deadline of December 8. Email your intent to apply to Azela Santana.
  • 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 2024.
  • Preview the application questions here.
Apply Online


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

Past Projects

Group of student performers onstagePegasus PlayLab: Building a Shared Home (2023)

UCF’s Pegasus PlayLab is an annual festival dedicated to developing plays by emerging playwrights for performance at Theatre UCF. Building on this model, Theater artists with and without disabilities will have the opportunity to submit works in progress with the theme of “Unleashing Potential” to be developed during a week-long series of workshops and performed at UCF in early Summer 2024 as part of Pegasus PlayLab. Furthering the project, UCF’s School of Performing Arts and the College of Community Innovation and Education partnered with Central Florida Community Arts (CFCArts) to connect artists nationally. Project facilitators will bring the previous processes and discoveries to the New London Barn Playhouse in New Hampshire. The Barn Playhouse has partnered with their local school district’s Student Support Services to create theatrical experiences for students with disabilities in their community.

Students test mobility software and hardware with a tablet device.LIMBITLESS JOURNEY: ALS Games for Health Creative Jam (2023)

The LIMBITLESS JOURNEY: ALS Games for Health Creative Jam initiative aims to harness the power of a custom-designed video game and game controller, which utilizes muscle flex in the temporalis muscles, to enhance the lives of individuals living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). In conjunction with the Mayo Clinic Jacksonville, participants will be invited to design mini-games that align with the training objectives guided by the medical staff. A panel of judges of potential users and Mayo Clinic medical staff will evaluate the creations.

Pegasus PlayLab: Building a Shared Home (2022)

UCF’s Pegasus PlayLab is an annual festival dedicated to developing plays by emerging playwrights for performance at Theatre UCF. Building on this model, UCF’s School of Performing Arts and the College of Community Innovation and Education partnered with Best Buddies of Florida to offer Pegasus PlayLab to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and their neurotypical peers. Participants will collaborate in the development of the festival’s first devised play, Building a Shared Home, created around the theme of “home,” based on the group’s creative ideas and experiences.

Shifting STEM Perception: A Community Approach to Increasing STEM Participation and Persistence in Low-income, BIPOC Communities (2022)

Building on the work of the Orlando Science Center, this project seeks to shift perspectives of STEM for youth and families in an Orlando neighborhood to create pathways for STEM learning and careers. The project team will develop activities and presentations held at community events using the arts to make learning about STEM relatable and engaging. The School of Visual Arts and Design (SVAD) will create these presentations. UCF’s Ginsburg Center for Inclusion and Community Engagement Office of Diversity Education and Training will train presenters to ensure inclusivity.

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.