Laker Effect Challenge to engage GVSU with community partners

By Megan Webster | 10/4/17 9:17pm

GVL / Courtesy -

The Multipurpose Room in the Mary Idema Pew Library Learning and Information Commons at Grand Valley State University will be host to the Laker Effect Challenge Thursday, Nov. 30. However, before participants can get to that final stage, they will need to fulfill certain requirements in order to complete the challenge itself.

The Laker Effect Challenge allows students, faculty and staff to align themselves with a community partner to form a plan to better the community. The participants will submit their ideas for voting, they will have the option to pitch their idea in five minutes and they are invited to participate in a poster competition. 

Shukri Bana, a representative in the Center for Scholarly and Creative Excellence at GVSU, said this challenge allows the participants to become active members in their surrounding communities in a creative and effective manner. 

“One of the best things about this event is it really focuses on the initiative that we of Grand Valley have larger communities outside of us,” Bana said. “We don’t have any restrictions on the sort of ideas that are submitted; we are really open to that looking however we define.”

The participants are given complete freedom when it comes to potential partners and what initiative they want to take on. Participants even have freedom in how they want to deliver their ideas. Along with having to answer some questions, they are allowed to submit any form of media they would like. 

“Anyone can submit any idea or initiative as long as it’s based on making a positive impact on the community, and we’re using 'community' broadly defined but specific to Grand Rapids or broader,” Bana said. 

Bana explained that another positive component of this challenge, in addition to providing an avenue to get an idea off the ground, is that it allows the public to vote on ideas they want to see in their community. It allows the participants the chance to network with individuals, companies and organizations that are located right in their backyard. 

“One of the best things that the participants will get out of this is the opportunity to network with people and share their new ideas,” Bana said. “It’s not necessarily just like ‘I’m going out for this to get the implementation capital for this idea,' although that’s a really central and important and really great thing that’s happening in this event. It’s also an opportunity for people to talk about their ideas and share it.” 

Linda Chamberlain, Meijer endowed chair of entrepreneurship and innovation in the Frederik Meijer Honors College, said this challenge is a learning opportunity for all those involved. It provides participants with the chance to engage with the community, to be active in conversation about the needs of the community and to align themselves with the university's strategic plan for "public good."

“It drives Grand Valley’s strategic initiatives to be engaged with our community and recognizing that public university, and in particular part of our charter, is public good,” Chamberlain said. “This gives us an opportunity to demonstrate that to our community.” 

Chamberlain said as an outcome of this event, projects will be able to get airtime and serve as a catalyst to start active dialogue for ways that we can improve our surrounding communities. She said it tends to be difficult to get projects like these funded and that this challenge could possibly allow some of the projects to gain the funding they need to reach the next step of implementation. 

“Many of these sorts of projects are very difficult to find funding for," Chamberlain said. "We wanted to have some way, some means by which very worthy projects not only can get some publicity and airtime, but there is some dollars that might be available to spend and to reach a milestone that will have huge impact.”

Bana said this event not only allows the participants to network but that it also gives the audience that opportunity.

“Even if you’re not presenting, this is going to be a really great event for networking but also just for hearing new things and being really active in your community,” Bana said.

Deadlines for this challenge are as follows: submissions were opened Sunday, Oct. 1; voting opens Sunday, Oct. 15, at midnight; the application deadline is Tuesday, Oct. 31; and the Laker Effect Challenge date is Thursday, Nov. 30. Participants are also encouraged to enter the poster challenge, which will occur Thursday as well. 

For more information on this challenge, visit

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