Students, staff, faculty and more were filled with excitement as the fifth annual Do Good Challenge Finals kicked off on Tuesday, April 19 at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center.
University of Maryland President Dr. Wallace Loh welcomed the crowd and emphasized his vision for a university that values doing good for others. “Do Good is about serving others,” he said. “Do Good is about giving back. We are Terps, therefore we do good! When you do good, that is citizenship in action. To do good is what makes this country what it is.”
Loh also expressed his appreciation for the work being done through the School of Public Policy’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. “It’s not just enough to have the passion for it,” he said. “You need the knowledge to translate that passion, and that’s where the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership comes in.”
The judges for this year’s competition were Sagar Doshi, a strategy and operations business analyst for Deloitte Consulting’s commercial practice, and former winner of the 2014 Do Good Challenge; Rosie Allen-Herring, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of the National Capital Area; and Barry Gossett, retired chairman and CEO of Baltimore-based Acton Mobile Industries.
During this year’s eight-week challenge, student teams raised more than $100,000, reached more than 120,000 people and volunteered for more than 4,700 hours.
Prior to the final competition, teams chosen as semi-finalists were given a chance to present their projects to Do Good Showcase attendees. Each attendee was given “Do Good dollars” to invest in the projects of their choice. The two showcase teams who received the most Do Good dollars, The Voice and A Helpful Hello, were allowed the opportunity to give two-minute pitches on stage during the finals. The audience then texted in votes for their favorite semi-finalist to win the Showcase Audience Choice Award and $750 to further their efforts.
This year the competition again featured the project track and the venture track. Projects in the competition were one-time or annual, student-run initiatives intended to maximize impact for a cause or organization through volunteering, fundraising and/or raising awareness. Ventures were independent, student-founded and student-run organizations whose efforts during the challenge were focused on taking the organizations to the next level.
No Taboo. Period. was the first team to present. After explaining that there are 15,855,000 women ages 14-40 living in poverty in the U.S., the team said their project aimed to promote awareness of the need to women in extreme poverty to have access to feminine hygiene products. The group worked to host on-campus collection drives and collected more than 6,000 products, helping 310 women to have menstrual products for a month. The team also created a fundraising campaign, hosted educational and awareness events and volunteered at the DC Diaper Bank during the competition.
Next to present was Preventing Sexual Assault. The students began with startling statistics about campus sexual assault, including the fact that 90 percent of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report the assault.The team’s mission is to spread awareness and take action to end sexual assault on the University of Maryland campus. During the challenge, the organization hosted an “Occupy McKeldin Mall” event to bring attention to the issue and to spread awareness of the resources that are available to victims. The group made connections with 52 Greek organizations, 12 student organizations and 13 departments on campus. They raised nearly $8,000 through the Occupy McKeldin Mall event and said they would use any prize money from the competition to host additional events and workshops to spread awareness and provide support.
The final project presented was Terps Against Hunger. The organization works to raise awareness of hunger in the DC metro area and provide emergency food assistance to those in need. Terps Against Hunger packages and distributes nutritious, non-perishable meals to local families. During the challenge, the group hosted a Greek Week packaging event and packaged 195,000 meals and raised $54,000. They expect to package more than 1,000,000 meals by the end of 2016.
First up in the venture track was Annie’s Children, an organization that works to empower children in orphanages in developing countries. The team put together folk storybooks translated into English and illustrated by children in Ukrainian orphanages. The organization sold more than 200 books, raised more than $4,000 in revenue, sponsored psychological training for the staff at the Ukrainian orphanage, bought 49 pairs of shoes and funded a two-week summer camp trip for 50 children. During the challenge, they raised more than $1,200 and are working on developing their next book featuring Filipino folk stories.
Next was The Love Blanket Project, whose mission is to re-purpose T-shirts, provide meaningful employment for people who are deaf or hard of hearing and to provide comfort to children in the hospital. The organization collected new and unused shirts, and then sent the shirts to Deaf Initiatives to assemble blankets out of them. Volunteers for the group then delivered the blankets to two local hospitals for sick children. During the challenge, the team collected 1,500 shirts, provided 200 hours of service, raised more than $11,000 and created 92 blankets, providing $10,102 in wages to deaf individuals.
The final team to present was MedFund. The organization supports Bolivians who cannot afford medical services or healthcare. MedFund works to identify patients in need, shares their stories online and collects donations online. Direct financial assistance is then provided to those patients. Throughout the challenge, the group raised more than $9,000 and provided almost $2,500 in patient care to more than 50 patients. They said they would use the prize money to support 125 additional patients.
While the judges deliberated, the audience got a chance to hear from three Do Good Challenge winners about their experience with the challenge and what they learned through the process. The panelists included Evan Lutz, Lizzie Sauber and Linda Powers.
Sauber advised the audience to network and make sure to connect with mentors that care about you. She also said, “make sure you’re working with organizations, not speaking for them.”
Powers told students to not get discouraged when the road gets tough. “Always keep the big goal in mind,” she said, explaining that the strategy worked for her while competing in the 2015 Do Good Challenge.
The judges chose Terps Against Hunger (project track) and MedFund (venture track) as the winners of the 2016 Do Good Challenge, each team was awarded $5,000 for their cause. Preventing Sexual Assault and Annie’s Children each won second place, winning $2,500. In third place, receiving $1,000 each was No Taboo. Period. and The Love Blanket Project. A Helpful Hello took home the Showcase Audience Choice Award and won $750 to further their cause.
The audience voted for the Finalist Audience Choice Award, which was given to Terps Against Hunger. The award provided an additional $2,500 toward their cause.
The Do Good Challenge was founded by the UMD School of Public Policy’s Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, in partnership with the Robert H. Smith School of Business Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, and sponsored by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. You can learn more about the challenge at www.dogood.umd.edu.