Students Helping Honduras
Honduras is the second poorest nation in the western hemisphere with over 60% of its people living in poverty. Gang violence, high murder rates, and economic distress all contribute to this reality. A byproduct of these issue is lack of access to quality education. University of Maryland Finance and Social Innovation double major Sagar Doshi ’15 first traveled to Honduras as a sophomore with the group Students Helping Honduras, an international nongovernmental organization with a vision to end extreme poverty and violence in Honduras through education and youth empowerment.
When Doshi returned from his first trip, he knew two things: he wanted to go back and he needed to do more. “We wanted to be the first student chapter [in the country] to fully fund an entire school,” he explained. To achieve this goal, they would need to raise $25,000. Doshi and his friends from Students Helping Honduras enrolled in a philanthropy course with Professors Bill Dorland, Bob Grimm, and Jen Littlefield called Innovation and Social Change: Do Good Now. In the class, the students learned about and then developed creative solutions to fundraising. Another part of the course? Entering the 2014 Do Good Challenge.
Equipped with the skills and knowledge from the course, Doshi and co-leader Anderson Sloan quadrupled the Students Helping Honduras team size and raised over $19,000 in just eight weeks. Convincing students to support the effort was no small task. “Our market of college students do not have a lot of excess income and therefore it was challenging at times to raise funds via simple fundraisers such as bake sales,” he explained. Their solution: grilled cheese sandwiches sold to students late into the night, right off the main road that cuts through College Park. It was a huge success. Each sandwich was sold for $2 - the same $2 cost to buy each brick they would need to build the school.
After weeks of grilled cheese sales and $19,000 raised, the team knew that winning the Do Good Challenge would earn them the additional $6,000 they needed to reach their $25,000 goal. Doshi and Anderson ultimately wowed the judges and won the project track of the 2014 Do Good Challenge. “Winning the Do Good Challenge was by far the most exciting thing I experienced while at the University of Maryland,” Doshi stated.
Since winning the Challenge, Students Helping Honduras has increased and beaten their 2014 fundraising efforts. In 2016, Doshi projects they will raise over $40,000. In the past four years, UMD’s Students Helping Honduras has raised over $100,000 and built four new schools.
Now a UMD alum, Doshi traveled back to Honduras in January 2016 as a trip leader with the Students Helping Honduras team. He helped lead nightly discussions on poverty, education and gang violence. Today, Student Helping Honduras has developed a long-term partnership with communities in Honduras. While about 30 current UMD students were traveling and working in Honduras when Doshi began his efforts, over 100 University of Maryland students annually travel to Honduras to build on this partnership today.
Doshi is now working as an analyst at Deloitte Consulting and always tries to incorporate service and social impact into his work. During his first months at Deloitte, Doshi took the lead on company-wide services projects. He explained that his UMD experience with the Do Good Challenge drives his desire to continue to make a difference.