Maryland Smith students are helping to make the world a better place one project at a time.
During the 2021 Do Good Challenge hosted in April by the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy, two teams featuring students from the Robert H. Smith School of Business showcased how they are making a difference through their work and an opportunity for a share of the $20,000 prize pool.
Sanketh Andhavarapu, ’23, and Uzair Chaudhary, ’23, were awarded the $1,000 Venture Innovation Award for their work with STEPS (Student Teachers Enriching Proficiency Through Service). The two co-founded the nonprofit, which provides a network for educational volunteers to work with K-12 families seeking personalized, affordable and sustainable tutoring and college advising services.
The organization donates nearly 100% of profits gained through grants and scholarships aimed at supporting low-income youth. Since its founding, STEPS has grown to 40 tutors and has served over 100 students.
Maryland Smith student Elaina Sichel, ’21, along with her team member Hadassah Rask from the University of Pennsylvania, were also among this year's competitors. The pair pitched Corona Connects, an online platform designed to connect individuals with volunteering opportunities with organizations across the country.
Through Corona Connects, Sichel and Rask have helped over 13,000 volunteers find opportunities from 300 different organizations, and have been featured in outlets such as the Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report. For Sichel, the organization has offered a reprieve during the pandemic and a learning experience.
“We were both looking for something to do during this, to shed some light and bring some positive moments out of this dark time,” Sichel said in a recent interview with Maryland Today. “If we make volunteering easy for people, we are more likely to have a larger population volunteering. This has been such a learning experience and I feel really proud of what the team accomplished and in such a crazy time period.”
Winners of the Do Good Challenge’s top prizes include:
- First place, $5,000: ROOTS Africa: A nonprofit organization that pairs agriculture students in Africa and the US, and focuses on increasing crop yields and bettering socioeconomic conditions for farming communities in Africa.
- Second place, $2,500: Audelia Community Response Team: A mutual aid group that offers food and other resources to Langley Park residents and other surrounding communities with residents in need.
- Third place, $1,000: Public Health Beyond Borders: A student-led organization with over 200 students across a range of academic backgrounds whose mission is to reduce health disparities in partner communities.