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.


The intersecting crises of 2020 — including a global pandemic, questions of social and racial equity and divisive political rhetoric — offered no small number of challenges to society. In addition to physical health, the year took its toll on people’s mental and emotional well-being. But the year also demonstrated the strength and resolve of individuals to persist. For organizations, pivoting became the new normal, and institutions that could not adapt didn’t survive.

The 2021 Pabst Steinmetz Foundation Arts & Wellness Innovation Awards proposals should be focused about helping organizations and individuals identify their strengths and be more resilient. Whether introducing a new initiative, a pivot in a new direction or better efficiencies in an existing program, the healing powers of the arts are well-documented, and there has been no better time to seek new ways to help our local community, our nation and our world recover.

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

Award Criteria

  • Initiatives should be interdisciplinary and sustainable.
  • 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.

Nomination Form and Selection Process

The nomination form is available at

  • Applications are due Friday, December 3, 2021 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 2022.
  • Preview the application here:

Past Projects

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.