Riggs Alumni Center was full of passion and energy at the third annual Do Good Challenge. Students Helping Honduras and justlikeyou.org were the two winners of the night, each winning $6,000. Students Helping Honduras also won the Audience Choice Award, a $2,500 text-to-vote prize sponsored by the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences. Both Students Helping Honduras and justlikeyou.org are led by undergraduates at the Robert H. Smith School of Business.
The 8-weeklong Do Good Challenge, hosted by the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership, Smith’s Center for Social Value Creation, and Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management, attracted 31 start-up social ventures and 27 social projects. These ventures and projects volunteered more than 12,000 hours of time, raised $110,000 and spread awareness by engaging 15,000 people on social media.
The finals was split into two categories – projects and ventures. The top three projects and top three ventures of the challenge had the opportunity to present their efforts and pitch how they would use the grand prize to a live audience and a panel of judges who decided the night’s winners.
The judges included Boomer Esiason ‘84, sports analyst and former NFL Quarterback; David Falk, legendary sports agent; and Bob Seaberg, board member of the Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding Trust. Each judge is a committed philanthropist as well as a successful professional, and shared their experiences in an inspiring discussion to kick off the event. The themes of the conversations centered around focusing on what you’re passionate about, leading by setting an example for those around you, and investing the time in gaining the skills you need to achieve your dreams.
The projects winner, Students Helping Honduras, used a variety of creative fundraisers to raise more than $19,000. In order to build a school in Honduras, they needed $25,000 which meant the $6,000 grand prize allowed them to raise the full funds for the school. The project leaders, Sagar Doshi and Anderson Sloan, delivered an electric, humorous and moving presentation that won over the crowd and judges.
The venture winner, justlikeyou.org, launched a Kickstarter campaign during the challenge to launch a free and anonymous social network for people going through the coming out process. They raised $14,388 and secured $24,000 from in-kind donations. The $6,000 prize will be used to train 140 more site volunteers who will facilitate meaningful discussions on the coming out process with justlikeyou.org members. Founder, Brooks Gabel, explained how much of a need there is for a platform like justlikeyou.org, driving that point home with personal anecdotes that silenced the audience and left the judges with nothing but words of encouragement.
The second and third place project finalists, Terps Against Hunger and Ride4ECO respectively, and the second and third place venture finalists, Community Pipeline and Recovered Food CSA respectively, had an incredible impact in their own right. Terps Against Hunger hosted an event that packaged 110,000 meals for food insecure people and families in the Washington, D.C. area. Ride4Eco fundraised for a matching grant to build a bike stop and gathering place Edmonston, Md. Community Pipeline connected 98 UMD students to after school programs at local elementary schools that get students excited about learning. Recovered Food CSA, led by Smith Senior Even Lutz, collected 5,700 lbs. of recovered produce and made $4,300 selling it to UMD students for $1 per pound.