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Press Release:

MEDIA CONTACT: Terry Gearing

FAU’s Kenan Social Engagement Program Announces First $15,000 Seed Grant Recipient

JUPITER, Fla. (April 23, 2013) – Florida Atlantic University’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College has announced junior Alexa Robinson as the 2013 winner of a $15,000 seed grant to launch her social venture, Sun Equipment Rentals, in collaboration with El Sol, Jupiter’s Neighborhood Resource Center. The grant is part of a $295,000 gift from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to fund the Kenan Social Engagement Program at FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter.

Robinson, along with four other students, also was awarded the Kenan Social Engagement Scholarship in 2012 to begin developing social ventures in the community. Each received $2,500 to fund their proposals for innovative social ventures. A panel of external reviewers evaluated each proposal for feasibility, clarity and social impact to determine which one would win the additional $15,000 seed grant.

“Our student proposals included ventures related to everything from tutoring programs, fair trade auctions, and computer literacy training for seniors,” said Christopher Strain, Ph.D., professor at FAU’s Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College. “All of the proposals received positive feedback from the reviewers.”

As part of the program each year, a local nonprofit is selected to partner with FAU and to host and mentor students. In its inaugural year, the Kenan Social Engagement Program partnered with the El Sol, a nonprofit organization with a mission of improving the quality of life for all Jupiter residents by organizing day-labor, hosting educational programs, and helping Jupiter’s immigrant population become an active and integrated part of the larger community.

Robinson’s proposed venture, Sun Equipment Rentals, directly engages with the mission of El Sol. Sun Equipment Rentals will be a tool rental venture in collaboration with El Sol which will provide vocational training for workers. 

“The experience of partnering with the Wilkes Honors College Kenan Social Engagement program has been extremely positive for El Sol,” said Jocelyn Skolnik, executive director of El Sol. “We look forward to working with Alexa on making this social venture a success.”

For its second year, the Kenan Social Engagement Program is proud to announce its community partnership with The Lord’s Place, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of homelessness by providing innovative, compassionate and effective services to men, women and children in Palm Beach County. The Lord’s Place has been actively engaged with issues of homelessness in Palm Beach County for more than 30 years.

“Not only is the mission of The Lord’s Place a great fit for the program, but the organization also has embraced the concept of social entrepreneurship,” said Strain. “The Lord’s Place is a dynamic and innovative organization. We are very excited to see what social ventures the next class of Kenan Scholars will contribute in the coming year.”

The Kenan Social Engagement Program, a three-year pilot program, was designed to bring together best practices in community service learning, public-private partnerships, social entrepreneurship and the use of sound business techniques to address pressing social problems. The goal of the program is to create a series of sustainable projects to improve the quality of life in southeastern Florida.

For more information, contact Terry Gearing at 561-799-8026 or, or visit


 The Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, located on FAU’s John D. MacArthur Campus, is a four-year residential liberal arts & science college for high achieving undergraduates.

Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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