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Campus & Community

A Competition Where Everyone Wins

Do Good Challenge Finals Highlight Student Efforts to Support Social Causes

By Carly Taylor ’19

Do Good illustration

From supporting children of cancer patients to stopping water waste from “phantom” toilet flushes, University of Maryland students are working to do good in creative ways. Tonight, they have the opportunity to broaden their impact, competing for a share of more than $20,000.

Six finalists will present their projects and ventures for social good at the eighth annual Do Good Challenge Finals at 7 p.m. at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Eight other student teams will pitch their initiatives during a 6 p.m. showcase.

Student team members span colleges and schools across campus, along with the Honors College, College Park Scholars and the QUEST Honors Program. They were selected from a pool of nearly 100 applicants—an impressive feat, said Katlin Gray, Do Good Institute coordinator.

"It demonstrates how many students, year after year, are building and creating new projects and ventures to make an impact for the issues they're passionate about,” she said.

The competition defines projects as efforts that maximize impact for a cause or existing organization through volunteering, fundraising and advocacy; ventures are student-founded social enterprises that tackle social issues with innovative business models The judges score projects and ventures separately, so every finalist will go home with a prize tonight: $5,000 for first place, $2,500 for second and $1,000 for third. Audience choice awards will be distributed to one finalist and two of the showcase teams.

This year’s judges are Rosie Allen-Herring, president and CEO, United Way National Capital Region; Nicky Goren, president and CEO, Eugene and Agnes E. Meyer Foundation; Paul Monteiro ’02, chief of staff, Howard University, and member, Prince George's County Board of Education; Dan Porterfield, president and CEO, Aspen Institute; Dana Priest, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, John S. and James L. Knight Chair in Public Affairs Journalism at UMD; and Ben Simon ’14, CEO, Imperfect Produce; co-founder, Food Recovery Networks.

Meet this year’s finalists:

Camp Kesem
at the University of Maryland is a free, weeklong summer program supporting children who have been impacted by a parent’s cancer. This summer, more than 100 student volunteers will host 50 campers after raising $68,000.

FLAME offers weekly lessons in STEM to underrepresented students in Prince George’s County middle and elementary schools. The team originally wanted to focus on educating women, but now includes other groups like African-American or Hispanic students who also struggle to break into STEM fields, said Natalia Ochman, FLAME’s team lead. This academic year, 30 volunteers have logged 800 volunteer hours with students.

Public Health Without Borders provides health education and intervention-based workshops abroad to children and adults, said Veeraj Shah, the team’s lead. Interventions in Peru, India, and Sierra Leone have covered topics from nutrition education to providing first-aid knowledge and resources.

is working to eliminate water waste with devices that sense when a toilet accidentally flushes with no waste in it. The team piloted their project at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and  is collaborating with Facilities Management to implement this technology across the university in hopes of saving $2 million, Gray said.

Padres Preparados, Jóvenes Saludables (Prepared Parents, Healthy Youth) is an open-source app that aims to combat obesity in children by strengthening fathers’ parenting practices through a wellness curriculum, a food resource library and text messaging. The app is primarily for Latino immigrant families, said team member Amara Channell Doig. The team conducted an initial research study with 25 Latino families in Minnesota and the DMV area, which garnered 1,274 views.

Synapto is working to make Alzheimer’s diagnosis more accessible, effective and accurate through portable EEG and machine learning. The team’s goal is to implement low-cost tools that detect the disease in patients before clinical symptoms arise. Synapto won first place in National Institute of Health’s DEBUT competition, has been featured in Forbes, Science magazine and Washingtonian, and has received over $40,000 in support.

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