Polaris Awards

The University of Minnesota's inaugural Polaris Awards Celebration will be held on Thursday, April 27, 2017 from 6:00-8:00 p.m., in the Campus Club (Coffman Memorial Union).  Members of the University community, community organizations and corporate entities, as well as alumni and donors, will gather to honor the amazing work of the 2017 Polaris Award recipients



About the Polaris Awards

Established in 2017, the Polaris Award recognizes emergent and established changemakers who have made extraordinary contributions to enhance equity and diversity (either in their paid work or volunteerism). Sharing its name with the North Star, this award is designed to acknowledge some of the brightest history-makers and leaders who are actively leading change and transformation efforts throughout the state of Minnesota. Polaris Awards will be given in ten different categories:

Community and Economic Development
Nominee works with others to generate innovative solutions to social and economic challenges within underserved communities.

Disability Rights and Advocacy
Nominee works to enrich the lives as well as protect and expand the rights of people with apparent and non-apparent disabilities.

Gender and Sexuality Rights and Advocacy
Nominee focuses on initiatives and resources that center the rights, needs and issues articulated by people of all gender and sexual identities and expressions.

Government and Public Policy
Nominee has made significant contributions on behalf of marginalized groups in the areas of government and public policy, whether from community agencies, or non-government agencies (both national and international).

Health and Human Services
Nominee demonstrates an ongoing commitment to improving the overall health and quality of life for underrepresented populations.

K-12 Education
Nominee employs creative strategies to provide access to and improve the K-12 educational experiences of historically underrepresented groups.

Lifetime Achievement
Nominee has made continuous and impactful contributions over the whole of a career or lifetime regarding equity, diversity and justice.

Racial and Indigenous Justice
Nominee actively strives for eliminating systemic oppressions faced by people of color and/or indigenous people through specific and demonstrated efforts.

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Advancement
Nominee advances access in science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics for groups typically underrepresented in those areas.

Young Polaris of the Year (18 years old and younger)
Nominee demonstrate a trailblazing spirit, give back to their communities in the areas of equity and diversity, and have grown to become leaders among their peers.


Nominees must currently reside in the state of Minnesota. University of Minnesota staff, faculty and students are not eligible to receive the Polaris Award. However, nominees may be alumni of any of the University's campuses. 


The Polaris Awards will be given at the annual Polaris Awards event hosted by the Office for Equity and Diversity; the awardee is presented with a specially selected piece of artwork.


TBD 2018

Nomination Process

University of Minnesota students, staff or faculty, as well as alumni and community members, may make nominations. The nomination process for the 2017 Polaris Awards is now CLOSED. The nomination process for the 2018 Polaris Awards will open in Winter/Spring 2018. 




For more information about the Polaris Awards, please contact the Office for Equity and Diversity at oed@umn.edu