Entrepreneurship center announces RAINmaker Awards

Lillis Business Complex with flowers in the foreground

Five UO students received the Paul Anthony Troiano RAINmaker Awards at the annual UO Entrepreneurship Awards, sponsored by the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship.

The awards celebrate UO student entrepreneurs and the faculty members, alumni and community members who helped them along the way. The awards event was held in June.

“University of Oregon entrepreneurs include students starting and running companies and nonprofit organizations while balancing classes and student life, faculty inspiring through teaching and practicing, and our community members who support programs with mentorship and guidance,” said Nathan Lillegard, interim director of Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. “The RAINMaker grants recognize those who have made the greatest progress and have the highest potential to leverage the award dollars to work as they grow their ventures.”

This year’s student recipients of $5,000 grants and their projects are:

Zoë Gamell Brown, who  is creating Fernland Studios, a nonprofit focused on reimagining environmentalism through art and education by providing people of color opportunities to explore environmentalism through residencies, educational retreats and writing workshops.

Ian Winbrock, who, seeing a gap in the process getting funding for the many nonprofit organizations in his community, developed ChangeFinder. ChangeFinder is a software as a service platform for connecting nonprofits and funding sources. He is taking the support from his work at the UO and the award funding to represent the university at the global Hult Prize social impact competition.

Nina Grace-Montes has launched Althea Magazine, a publication dedicated to women in sports and filling a gap she saw in the promotion of female athletes,. The first issue sold out and Grace-Montes is using the funds to continue her story and put out the second issue of her magazine.

Jensen Barnes, who, as a lifelong tennis player, saw the need for tennis apparel that was both functional and stylish. To solve the problem, she created LoveHate Athletica, which makes functional tennis apparel for female athletes. She will leverage the award funding to complete her first order of garments and go to market by this fall.

David Scheurer and Kyla Kirshner created the first safety navigation app tailored to university students. They won second place in the Provost Innovation Challenge by presenting the benefits of a service that enables students to safely navigate both on and off campus in Eugene. The funding can help them make their idea a reality with a hopeful pilot program at the UO this fall.

Read more about all the students and faculty who were given awards and cash prizes on the Innovation and Entrepreneurship website.

By Emmily Bristol, Office of the Provost