USAID International Disaster Relief Design Competition winners announced

by | Apr 15, 2021

The USAID Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) announced that Arizona State University swept the 15th annual Public Service Announcements for International Disasters contest (PSAid), taking first, second and third places in all three categories.

The nationwide contest calls on college students to create public service announcements (PSAs) that demonstrate why monetary donations are the most effective way to support international disaster relief efforts. Most people don’t realize that material donations—like food, water, and clothing—are expensive to ship, are sometimes culturally inappropriate, and can actually hinder relief efforts. Cash donations, on the other hand, allow humanitarian organizations to directly purchase what is needed on the ground to help people affected by disasters, while also helping to stimulate the local economy.

All 2021 winners hail from Arizona State University (ASU), making this the first clean sweep in PSAid contest history. Several ASU professors have incorporated the contest into their lesson plans for a number of years, including Lisa Pena, Ph.D., lecturer with the visual communication design program at ASU’s The Design School.

“My fellow ASU colleagues and I are extremely proud of our students,” said Pena. “The visual work they produced encourages kindness, giving, and supporting people during their time of need. We believe their work demonstrates how design can have a positive impact on society.”

Over the last year, back-to-back hurricanes in Central America, the COVID-19 pandemic, and ongoing conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Ethiopia have increased the need for international aid. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s PSAid contest provided students with the real-world experience of working with a client in the classroom, whether college classes were in-person or virtual. USAID remains committed to giving college students the opportunity to design the ‘Cash is Best’ campaign as a way to empower a younger generation to give effectively and help spread this critical message more broadly.

USAID is proud to announce the 2021 PSAid winners:

Digital Image:



“The opportunity to participate in this competition has allowed me to internalize the impact my designs can make nationwide,” said Amber Blain, second place winner in the print image category. “The biggest takeaway was learning how essential monetary donations are for communities after a disaster.”

The contest entries were judged by a panel of five experts from the humanitarian and communications fields, two of which are previous PSAid contest winners. This year’s judges were Mia Beers, Acting Director, Office of Global Policy, Partnerships, Programs and Communications, USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance; Lauren Herchert, Manager, Employee and Executive Communications, Nestlé USA; Lara McDougall Reed, President and Partner, Pan Galactic Digital; Sara Suzuki, Designer, Union Design and 2016 PSAid contest winner; and Abby Cronin, Media Planner, Gimbal and 2018 PSAid contest winner.

This year’s winning entries were selected from nearly 90 submissions, spanning 11 universities, in the categories of video, print, and digital image. University educators played a key role in PSAid, incorporating the contest into their curricula and participating in webinars with CIDI staff. The winning PSAs could be featured in prominent magazines or aired during popular television programs, and will be used in CIDI’s ‘Cash is Best’ education efforts.

Additionally, three entries were selected as the winners of the People’s Choice competition, an opportunity for the general public to vote on their favorite contest entry in each category on the PSAid website.

People’s Choice:

  • Digital: Cash Machine, Kelsey Yin and Shawn Chang, University of Southern California
  • Print: Bingo!, Janice Yoo, Arizona State University
  • Video: Go Green, Molly Gaffey, University of Michigan

The winning entries may be viewed on the contest website at www.PSAid.org.

Bulldog Reporter
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