By: Megan McPherson
The small classroom setting of the Do Good Challenge Semifinals felt intimate and understated, but the passion of each student shined just as brightly in that classroom as it may have on some grand stage. As each team pitched their eight weeks of social impact to the judges panel, I tried in vain to capture the morning’s energy with numerous photographs and tweets.
But one short tweet for each team can’t adequately express the amazing scope of their accomplishments, and the many human lives their efforts have impacted so far. The judges panel was faced with the difficult task of choosing only three Do Good Projects and three Do Good Ventures to advance to the Do Good Challenge Finals. While you may be tempted to only read about the finalist teams, I hope you will take a moment to read below about each of the semifinalists and their great social contributions.
Come support these teams at the Do Good Challenge Finals on Tuesday, April 19 from 6-9 p.m. in the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, where they will compete for $20,000 in funding. Register now for the opportunity to hear their inspiring stories and experience their passion firsthand.
The judges set about assessing each team on the basis of impact, creativity, leverage and feasibility. They managed to decide upon six finalists, three for each Do Good Challenge track.
Do Good Projects: No Taboo. Period., Terps Against Hunger, PSA – Preventing Sexual Assault
Do Good Ventures: Annie’s Children, MedFund, Love Blanket Project
Do Good Projects
No Taboo. Period. – FINALIST
Feminine hygiene is a subject that many prefer not to think about, but for impoverished women who lack access to sanitary pads and tampons, it’s a common struggle that has gone mostly unaddressed—until now. No Taboo. Period. aims to fight stigmas against the topic of menstruation, and in the process they have collected over 5,000 products for donation to shelters in the area.
Terps Against Hunger – FINALIST
In the DC-metro area alone, there are 1.7 million people who don’t have the luxury of knowing when they will eat their next meal. Terps Against Hunger distributes packaged just-add-water rice casseroles containing soy, dehydrated vegetables and vitamin supplements to help families in need. So far, they’ve raised over $54,000 and given out 415,000 meals.
PSA – Preventing Sexual Assault – FINALIST
As their name indicates, PSA aims to prevent sexual assault at UMD by tackling the notion that it is not a campus-wide problem. With their Occupy McKeldin sit-in event, they hope to spread awareness about this difficult topic and to encourage students to share their own stories and opinions about sexual assault.
The Voice: Juvenile Justice
The Voice reaches out to incarcerated youths in the Juvenile Justice System via a pen-pal system that encourages self-expression through poetry and art. These beautiful exchanges are posted on their blog, which spreads awareness of the individual struggles of these youths and gives society an avenue toward understanding and accepting them. The Voice gives these youths a crucial opportunity to own their story, making them better equipped to find education and successful jobs on the outside.
When talking to the judges about the importance of teen suicide prevention, Edmond Lee shared a story of his own personal experience with the tragic loss of a childhood friend, Evan Rosenstock. In Evan’s memory, the UMTTR organization was started to tell struggling youths “you matter,” and to provide them with a much-needed source of support. United in their mission to bring a UMTTR chapter to University of Maryland, this team sells wristbands with the message “Always remember umttr” to raise funds for the organization and spread awareness.
Rebecca Goodridge opened her pitch to the judges by singing a few lines of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” a tune that she had once sung to help ease her beloved grandfather’s passing. On that touching note, she gave us a glimpse of the greater significance of Vintage Voices, a student organization on campus that performs retro classics for local nursing facilities, and raises money to donate iPod shuffles pre-loaded with resident favorites.
Do Good Ventures
Annie’s Children – FINALIST
Starting with an orphanage in the Ukraine, Annie’s Children assembled illustrations created by the orphans into a children’s book of regional folktales. The proceeds from every book sold directly supports the orphans who helped to create it, providing them with basic needs such as shoes, clothes, food, medical care and education. Their profits so far have allowed them to buy 49 pairs of shoes and fund a summer camp trip for 50 children. They are hoping to expand their efforts to orphanages in other countries across the world.
Love Blanket Project – FINALIST
The Love Blanket Project strives to better the lives of not just one, but two areas of society in need. First, they collect t-shirts for donation and send them to Deaf Initiatives, an organization that creates jobs for members of the deaf community who struggle to find employment elsewhere. These deaf individuals sew the shirts into unique quilted blankets, which are then sent back to The Love Blanket Project, who donate them to comfort sick children in local hospitals.
MedFund – FINALIST
Born and raised in Bolivia, Patrick Prömmel became aware of a growing need to help abandoned hospital patients who are declined care when unable to pay for treatment. In partnership with the largest general hospital in the city of La Paz, MedFund provides a crowdfunding platform so that these patients can get medical and financial aid. On their Facebook page, you can see photos of the many Bolivians who have benefited from this venture so far.
The impressive team of freshmen behind Turbind use the magic of 3-D printing to create small scale wind turbines that can be used as phone charging stations on campus. Using a colorful, attractive design, they hope to attract users and create awareness about sustainability initiatives and small scale wind energy systems on the University of Maryland campus and beyond.
Data Donation Drive
Data Donation Drive team member and Smith MBA student Adriana Kao recently wrote a blog post for us about her experience competing in the Hult Prize regional competition in Boston with their CellShare app. This app allows users to donate data to help people in poverty gain access to the internet, providing them with a much needed connection to societal resources.
The James Hollister Wellness Foundation
Many of us have felt skeptical about prescription medication expiration dates, and apparently for good reason. Studies have shown that approximately $2 billion of perfectly good medications are wasted each year due to overly strict expiration dates. The James Hollister Wellness Foundation partners with pharmacies to prove the potency of these expired meds, then once proved viable, they donate them to developing countries with limited access to medicine.
Cocoa Queens Haircare & Extensions
Having previously won a Golden Ticket to the Do Good Challenge Semifinals at the Social Enterprise Symposium’s Ventures Showcase, the Cocoa Queens team delivered a very convincing pitch. Out of the millions of breast cancer victims each year, a disproportionately large number of them are African American women who lack access to health resources and education. In order to reach out to this market and reduce that statistic, they created their own line of virgin hair extensions, with packaging that includes helpful information about signs and symptoms as well as a tutorial for self-exams.
CompCare: Hair Initiative
Did you know that hair is compostable? Apparently its Nitrogen rich composition makes it actually ideal for composting. Partnering with area salons, CompCare reduces waste by taking unwanted hair and adding it to compost, where it can be used by the Terp Farm at UMD. With their marketing efforts, they strive to encourage sustainability and increase awareness to salons about the possibilities of composting hair.
NOVA Prints and Apparel
Oru Wonodi’s hand-sewn NOVA Prints and Apparel fashion line is both trendy and globally focused, incorporating subtle influences from her Nigerian background. Her latest collection debuted at University of Maryland fashion week, and most of her wares have sold out. Oru sends proceeds from her fashion line toward bringing pneumonia vaccinations to over 200 people in Nigeria.