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Software-Developing Club, Foundation Combating Hate Violence Take Top Prizes at Do Good Challenge

$20K Competition Celebrates Student Solutions to Societal Issues

By Jenny Cox

Dawn Collins presents at Do Good Challenge

Photos by Dylan Singleton

A new student club that creates software to solve real-world problems and a foundation that works to break down racial divides took the top prizes at the University of Maryland’s 12th annual Do Good Challenge.

The App Dev Club (ADC), which helps computer science majors hone their skills while supporting socially impactful corporate initiatives, took home the $5,000 prize in the project category, along with the $2,500 Audience Choice Award. The 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III Foundation, named in honor of a Bowie State student slain on the UMD campus in 2017, won the $5,000 top prize for ventures. Teams competing on the project track focus on advocacy for an existing effort or cause, while the venture track focuses on a new program, nonprofit, business or product.

Four other finalists took a share of the more than $20,000 in prize money awarded in Tuesday evening’s competition, which drew hundreds of students, staff, faculty and community members to The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to hear presentations from the teams.

“As we have seen, time and time again, the Terp community is passionate and wants to make a difference, not at some distant point in time, but today,” said UMD President Darryll J. Pines. “The teams that are competing tonight in the Do Good Challenge are part of that movement. They are part of how the University of Maryland will continue to transcend our campus and make the world a better, safer and more equitable place.”

App Dev Club presents at Do Good Challenge

Matthewos Gashaw of ADC told the crowd that computer science students, especially those from underrepresented and underprivileged backgrounds, have few opportunities to get industry experience without an internship. “That makes it challenging for them to catch up to their peers, land competitive jobs and have the technological backbone to act upon their innovative ideas. … On the other hand, there’s a complete lack of resources and talent dedicated to socially impactful projects. App Dev comes in to bridge the gap."

He outlined the 350-member group’s work with Children’s National Hospital and with Amazon’s initiative to expand broadband access globally, and its ambitions for better equipment, more educational resources, transportation for app demonstrations and starting a new club at the University of South Florida. The goal, he said, is "generating more student-led solutions to pressing problems.”

The second-place winner in the project track was Dare to Dream (DTD), which received $2,500. The nonprofit organization of 25 students from various majors created an eight-week entrepreneurial development curriculum for students from marginalized communities. The organization founded by Takiyah Roberts ’25 also secured a contract with the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission to offer a three-week program to residents, and is working with University of Maryland’s Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship and Junior Achievement to teach inaugural cohorts of high school students in Prince George’s County how to run their own businesses.

Public Health Beyond Borders (PHBB) took third, winning $1,000. The student group teaches families and communities locally and globally how to improve their health through workshops and advocacy. Since its inception more than a decade ago, PHBB has collaborated with partner communities in India, Peru, Sierra Leone and Kenya, involving more than 1,000 undergraduates and positively impacting 2,500+ children.

Project track judges included Michelle Gilliard, corporate social responsibility leader, Americas at IBM Americas; Ian Gordon, vice president, community impact and engagement at United Way of the National Capital Area; and Cedric Nwafor ’18, chief executive officer of Roots Africa and 2021 Do Good Challenge winner.

On the venture track, the first-place winner was established to defeat the intolerance and fear that robbed the Collins family of their son and promote scholarship and mentoring young people of color. The 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III Foundation successfully lobbied the Maryland General Assembly for a new hate crime law that broadened the category of prosecutable offenses, as well as for a scholarship program that has supported more than 800 students at Maryland’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) since 2018. The foundation also brings together ROTC students from HBCUs and predominately white institutions for outdoor leadership exercises and professional development opportunities aimed at fostering community.

Foundation co-founder Dawn Collins, who is his mother and a graduate student at UMD’s School of Public Policy, told the judging panel that she hopes to scale up its efforts. “I dream big. I believe what we did in Maryland is a shining example of what we can do throughout this nation,” she said. “Can you imagine the impact that we will have?”

The second-place venture team, True Community, won $2,500 to support its mission of providing wellness education and training in lifesaving skills such as first aid, CPR and AED in traditionally marginalized communities. Since its founding by Luke Kues M.P.H. ’24, now the organization’s executive director, True Community has provided more than 8,000 first aid and other certifications in 18 major cities around the United States.

Third-place finisher Game Changers, founded by Sara Blau ’24 when she was a high school sophomore, sends lightly used sports equipment to kids in need. It connects donors, organizes volunteers and forges partnerships, leading to the donation of 100,000-plus pieces of sports equipment worth more than $2.5 million to 130 partner organizations in 14 countries.

Venture track judges included Kahlil Kettering, MPM ’15, executive director of the Maryland/D.C. chapter of the Nature Conservancy; Megan O’Neill, senior program manager, UN and International Organizations, Microsoft; and Veeraj Shah ‘21, co-founder and CEO, Vitalize Care.

This year’s program included three opportunities for audience members to text-to-vote for their favorite Showcase group, finalist and—for the first time—a Do Good Challenge alum team. Terrapin Think Tank, the first student-led policy incubator at the University of Maryland, received the most votes and $750.

After watching the stories of three former Do Good Challenge teams, from the Change the World digital exhibit, audience members’ votes gave $1,500 to One Thousand Schools at UMD, which aims to alleviate violence and extreme poverty in Honduras through education and youth empowerment.

Schools & Departments:

School of Public Policy

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