Nov 212014
 

CTW Symposium Fall, 2014

If you’re in ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit consulting you just finished up the CTW Symposium. If you’re in the Social Venture Consulting Practicum, you just had your Devil’s Advocate session. It’s time to take all of the feedback and turn it into a final presentation for your client. But what exactly does that mean and where do you start? Resident experiential learning pro, Pammi Bhullar, has some tips on how to use your feedback to deliver a strong final presentation to your client.

  1. All feedback isn’t created equal. Some of the feedback you get is gold. Some will be less so. Have a discussion with your team and decide what’s worth pursuing, what’s worth including in the presentation and what’s just not a good fit.
  2. Be realistic. It’s easy to get overwhelmed after a lot of external feedback. Boil it down to immediate needs and pursue what you can finish in the time you have left.
  3. If you can’t implement it, pass it along. When you get really good feedback that’s not feasible to pursue as part of your project, make sure to include it as an additional recommendation and explain to your client why you didn’t quite get to it. That feedback is important to both you and your client so make sure to share!
  4. Cover all your final presentation bases. There are a few things every final presentation should have: 1) a slide deck with notes 2) a final report 3) an executive summary of the final report. Make sure you clarify the target audience for each of these deliverables and tailor them for that audience.
  5. Reference Past Presentations for Inspiration. Having trouble structuring your final presentation and report? Examples of past final presentations exist for both ChangeTheWorld.org and the Social Venture Consulting Practicum. CTW examples can be found in the CTW google folder and SVC examples can be found on the canvas site. If you need help finding either of these, email Pammi!
  6. Use Your client’s Templates. If your client has their own PowerPoint slides and document templates, use them when putting together final presentations and reports. The presentations you’re creating aren’t for you; they’re for your client. Make the recommendations feel like theirs and not yours.
  7. Pitch another round of Consulting. Many times the project that you tackle will uncover other needs in the organization. So in true consulting fashion, remind your client that they can apply for the ChangeTheWorld.org nonprofit consulting for next semester!

If you keep these considerations in mind, you’ll turn all of your work this semester into a high quality, actionable report that will propel your nonprofit client forward. Now all you have to do is do it. Good luck!

Nov 132014
 

MTM Impact Career Workshop *adapted from CSVC’s October Quarterly Newsletter In Depth piece

Today’s college students are redefining career success.  Increasingly, they seek opportunities aligned with personal passions and the ability to make a positive impact on the world. Broadly, this area of interest in doing well by doing good has come to be known as the “Impact” sector.  Given this considerable shift in interest, universities are beginning to broaden career programming and services to empower students to pursue such goals.

The challenge however, is that many universities are trying to meet a contemporary need with a set of outdated beliefs.  When we think “impact”, we generally think nonprofit; but in reality impact jobs exist across a variety of sectors, organizational structures, and often hybridized business structures. Another common assumption is that the impact sector is truly its own distinct space, when in reality it permeates all sectors.  For instance, Calvert Investments and TOMS Shoes both empower underserved communities, but one is a financial services firm and the other is an apparel company. Both blend impact practices and language with the praxis and language of their respective, functional industries.

In these ways, the impact sector is truly a unique space and requires a different approach to job search preparation and planning. As such, we must look between and beyond traditional methods to get our students on track for impact careers.

Having the right skills, knowledge, and competency is essential, but it’s also only one piece in the impact careers puzzle. Students also need to know where to find, and how to identify, impact organizations that align with their specific career goals. Once identified, students must effectively market themselves and their experiences. Making this effort more challenging is the fact that many impact organizations utilize their tight-knit networks to promote new job opportunities. Therefore, unless an outside job seeker is paying very close attention, such opportunities easily go unnoticed.

In partnership with More Than Money Careers, the Smith Office of Career Services and both MBA and Undergraduate Smith Net Impact chapters, CSVC hosts an  impact careers workshop for students at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. This workshop helps students better define what they are looking for (a critical and often overlooked step), and leverage online resources to target and connect with impact organizations, as well as engage specific impact individuals within the space. During our workshop this fall, Dr. Mrim Boutla, co-founder of More Than Money Careers, will lead the workshop and then provide focused group coaching to workshop participants. Participants of the workshop will also receive one month of free 24/7 access to the More than Money Careers e-learning platform.

Our next workshop is December 5th from 10am-2pm. Learn more about our Impact Careers Workshop and RSVP by emailing csvc@rhsmith.umd.edu

Oct 292014
 
Eco Energy Finance SVC Team

From Left to right: Rodrigo Velasquez, Kallen Trachsel, Rohit Chowdhury, Tristan Williams

Last Spring Smith MBA, Kallen Trachsel and her team of three other MBA student consultants helped EcoEnergyFinance (EEF) deliver clean energy to rural Pakistan. EEF provides affordable renewable energy products to the most energy-deprived regions of Pakistan through a distribution network focused on reaching marginalized, rural communities. As a revenue generating nonprofit, EEF strives to develop diverse and sustainable funding streams through product sales and grant funding.

Through the Smith Experience Social Venture Consulting Practicum, Trachsel and her team worked with EEF and Smith faculty advisor, Oliver Schlake to develop recommendations on how EEF can achieve financial sustainability.

The MBA student team dove into EEF’s financials and operations. After analyzing the company, the team realized that in order for EEF to be attractive to grantors, it needed to boost the profitability of its solar lanterns while reducing operating and overhead costs. The team shifted the scope of their project to addressing operational issues that would lead to more sustainable revenue generation. They developed recommendations for EEF’s cost structure, sales and marketing strategies, inventory management and revamped the employee compensation structure.

Trachsel and her team heavily leveraged their MBA coursework during their analysis and recommendations. They valued each initiative using corporate valuation techniques taught in their finance courses, identified on-the-ground marketing opportunities based on their market management course and used the MECE consulting framework taught by Professor Protiti Dastidar to organize their recommendations.  “This was a great opportunity for us to tie together our whole first semester of core curriculum,” said Trachsel.

Trachsel and the rest of the team presented their recommendations to Shazia Khan, Executive Director of EEF.  Khan was particularly impressed with the recommendation to reduce EEF’s product mix to only those products the team proved had significant profitability, as well as the recommendation to change the payment structure of EEF’s on-the-ground sales team to provide greater incentives for higher sales. Khan plans to implement both of these recommendations.

Reflecting on the experience, Trachsel remembers the challenge and ultimate payoff of re-scoping the project after the team’s initial analysis. “We set ourselves up for success rather than failure. That’s what I learned out of all this; how to set realistic expectations.”

For students interested in applying for the Social Venture Consulting Practicum, Trachsel challenges them to look beyond the easy route of giving companies exactly what they want. Instead, dig in and find the core problems. “Find the issues and don’t be scared to show the owner what’s wrong with her own company.”

Learn more and apply for Smith Experience Social Venture Consulting or CSVC’s other Spring 2014 MBA consulting opportunities by visiting our MBA Consulting Practicum page. Applications for Spring 2014 practicums are due October 31st.

Oct 142014
 

Through the Do Good Challenge Booster Fund you can apply for up to $500 to jump-start your “do good” ideas! But what exactly can you do with $100-$500? Here are five ways teams used the booster fund last year.

1) Promote Your Project or Venture

Team: Procity
Cause: Establish a network to reward individuals who do-good in their community.

“We used the funds to create three animation videos and solve some of our technical needs regarding the website” Procity video

Team: Glow for the Girls
Cause: promote awareness about Human Trafficking.

“Because of the booster fund, we were able to immediately make purchases that improved advertising and outreach on campus. We purchased over $100 of glowsticks and materials for the Social Enterprise Symposium, where we won ‘best presentation’ and fast-track to the Do Good Challenge semi-finals. “ Glow for the Girls

2) Pilot your idea

Team: Terps Against Hunger
Cause: Provide healthy, nutritious meals to families experiencing hunger in the D.C. Metro area.

“The grant funds were use to hold a small-scale food packaging event, designed to pitch the larger event to DFSL [Department of Fraternity & Sorority Life]” Terps Against Hunger

Team: Unican
Cause: increase the recycling rate at the University of Maryland.

“We were able to purchase our first six bins, art supplies for decorating the bins, and gas for a few trips to and from the recycling center. This money allowed us to begin to collect aluminum from five fraternities, recycling around fifty pounds.” Unican

3) Cover Your Startup Costs

Team: Building Tomorrow
Cause: Raise money to build schools in impoverished areas of Uganda

“We used our funding to book the mall and pay for the facilities employees to move the bikes. We also used it to get our tank tops…The tank tops we had were a huge selling point, as many people stopped just for a cool shirt.” Building Tomorrow

Team: Community Pipeline
Cause: Connect after school programs with college student volunteers.

“The Grant Funds were crucial to our success… We used the grant funds to pay for advertising across campus for our project, as well as for the first big cost we faced: background checks.” Community Pipeline

4) Host an Event

Team: Start Up Shell
Cause: Increase women involvement in tech.

“We used the grant funds on t-shirts, business cards, and pizza for Female Founders events. These items enabled us to market professionally to students as well as attract students to our events.” Start Up Shell

Team: Grow Your Impact
Cause: raise awareness about the benefit of living a sustainable lifestyle.

“The money we requested from the Booster Fund was budgeted to acquire gardening materials like soil, seeds, pots, etc. for our main event, the Sustainable Potting Party.” Grow Your Impact

5) Expand your impact

Team: Justlikeyou.org
Cause: Building a social network for people going through the coming out process.

“Booster Funds went to the two trainings we had in March that trained 27 volunteers for the justlikeyou.org site. The volunteers will be online pen pals for those coming out.” JYL1

Team: Terps for Happiness
Cause: Break the social norm of drinking and driving.

“We used a fraction of the funds to order more Happiness Apparel to sell for our promotional table events. We have saved $300, for future events and ventures” Terps for Happiness

The Do Good Challenge Booster Fund can dramatically increase your impact during the Do Good Challenge. Of the six Do Good Challenge finalists last year, four were Booster Fund recipients. The best way to get funding for your idea is to be clear about what you’re going to use it for and how that will help you prepare for the Do Good Challenge in the Spring. Use last year’s recipients as inspiration and get to work on the Booster Fund application!

Sep 162014
 

Desk Plant

The new standard of corporate sustainability goes way beyond recycling and energy efficiency. Today’s business leaders embed social and environmental impact into an organization’s value chain to drive performance and competitive advantage. Here are three cutting edge trends Corporate Sustainability Managers are thinking about that YOU need to know:

  1. The “Do No Harm” era of corporate sustainability is over. Corporate sustainability in the late 90s and early 2000s was led by large industrial companies like Dow and DuPont. The focus was on superior environmental health and safety standards such as reductions in pollution and waste. Now, companies like Unilever and Patagonia are eclipsing these efforts in a new era of corporate sustainability that attempts to transform core products and services, and the extensive value chains that deliver them. These strategies are more complex, but also have more impact. Read more here.
  2. A new focus on empowerment and “acculturation”. Sustainability professionals have laundry lists of sustainability actions in need of being implemented. They know what needs to be done, but often lack control over the tools to make it happen — budget, staffing, incentives, etc. The new goal is to incite functional managers and line employees to identify their own opportunities to improve corporate social and environmental performance with their sphere of influence. This effort moves sustainability initiatives through lower levels of the organization, thereby embedding it in culture and organizational process (“acculturation”). The idea is that this relatively simple change in approach can alter the way business is done in every function and unit of the company. Note 40% of companies are already engaging their employees directly in sustainability (up 10% since 2012).  Read more here.
  3. Companies must expand the definition of success beyond growth. Even if we make incremental changes to our business operations, the end goal of all major businesses – growth – is inherently unsustainable when we’re operating on a planet with limited resources. It’s time for businesses to expand success to encapsulate other goals such as quality of life and well-being. This is where business model innovations like cooperatives, circular economies, and benefit corporations could have a major impact. Read more here.

If you’re as excited about these trends as we are, join us and Jeff Senne, Director of Corporate Responsibility at PwC, in exploring these topics and more at our Sustainability Roundtable: Lunch and Learn Series. Light lunch will be served and rich discussion is expected. The first session is scheduled for September 23rd from Noon to 1pm and will accommodate an intimate group of 6-10 people. The Series will be crafted based on the interest areas of participants (not just the three listed above!), so come prepared with questions and ready to articulate what you hope to gain from the series!

If you’re interested in joining, send an RSVP to Kim R. Glinka: krobertella@rhsmith.umd.edu. Each session will be limited to the first eight registrants. (Faculty and students welcome!)

Sep 092014
 

 

Accountability Lab Team

The Accountability Lab student team and client. From left to right: Blair Glencorse, Mae McIver, Wenxiao Lu, Chelsea Wallace

Last Spring, Chelsea Wallace served as a Strategy Consultant for Accountability Lab – a DC-based nonprofit determined to bolster accountability in countries such as Nepal and Liberia. She and four other graduate students from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland helped Accountability Lab prepare their model to be replicated in new countries.

Accountability Lab bolsters accountability by partnering with government representatives in order to incorporate trust and cooperation into their decision-making and relationships. Through a ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit consulting project, Chelsea and her team analyzed Accountability Lab’s operating model, standardized their processes and compiled it into an easy-to-use document. “We were all able to pull from past experiences and think outside of the box to give Accountability Lab a final product that they will be able to incorporate into their business plan.” said Chelsea.

The end deliverable was a handbook that Accountability Lab staff can use on the ground in new countries. Wallace and her team also analyzed Accountability Lab’s revenue model to help them develop creative and sustainable revenue streams as they expand.

Chelsea found the whole experience extremely rewarding. Her team worked closely with Accountability Lab’s Associate Director in Nepal, and had access to several consulting resources. The Center for Social Value Creation also provided a great deal of support, serving as a connector for Wallace and her team and hosting the ChangeTheWorld.org Symposium which gave the team an opportunity receive constructive feedback on their project.

After the final deliverable was presented, Anne Sophie Lambert, Associate Director at Accountability Lab, noted, “The student consultants exceeded our expectations in their ability to tackle some of our biggest organizational challenges with competence and professionalism.”

Reflecting on the experience, Chelsea said, “It was definitely a test of my organization skills and really pushed me to take my leadership to the next level.  More importantly, it was also extremely satisfying to see, first-hand, the impact of our product.  The success of the project depended greatly on the success of our teamwork and I could not have asked for a better team*.”

About ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit Consulting
ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit Consulting Program matches talented undergraduate and graduate students with semester-long business consulting projects for nonprofit organizations in need of consulting assistance with strategic projects. This program is open to all students at the University of Maryland. Apply to be a ChangeTheWorld.org student consultant or contact Program Manager Pammi Bhullar (pbhullar@rhsmith.umd.edu) with any questions.  Applications to be a Fall, 2014 ChangeTheWorld.org Consultant are due September 15th, 2014!

*Smith Graduate Team included Chelsea Wallace, Rahul Shah, Mae McIver, Wenxiao Lu, and Jeanne Powell

 

Aug 282014
 

Pammi at the ChangeTheWorld Symposium

You want to gain consulting experience.

You want to apply your skills to a cause you’re passionate about.

You want a program open to any major as well as full-time and part-time students.

You find out about ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit Consulting Practicum and think, “This is perfect!”

But then you realize there’s a competitive application process. Don’t let that deter you from this life changing consulting experience! We at the Center for Social Value Creation want to place as many of you as possible with a great nonprofit consulting project. That means finding the project where you’ll be the best fit and the most successful.

So, Pammi Bhullar, our Manager for Experiential Learning, has put together 7 pro tips on how to rock your ChangeTheWorld.org Application and get matched with a nonprofit you’ll love:

  1. Apply early! Even though the application deadline is September 15th, 2014 I’m filling projects on a rolling basis. If you’re a strong fit for a project, then I will not hesitate to place you early.  Bottom line: Get your applications in early to ensure you get your favorite project.
  2. Be Clear about what you prefer and why. I ask for your top three choices in the application. Pick three that align with your passion(s) and experience and then tell me why I should choose you.
  3. List specific skills that make you a good fit. I cannot place every applicant, so make sure you tell me explicitly and specifically what you can do and what experiences you have that align with the projects you’re interested in.
  4. Let your passion show. Don’t have many skills that relate to the project you’re in love with? Use the “additional information” section to really make your case. I love hearing the stories of people truly committed to a cause.
  5. Align the projects to your career aspirations. The point of ChangeTheWorld.org is to give you relevant, real-world experience. I want to give you an experience that helps you get where you want to go, so make sure I know about it!
  6. Apply with a team in mind if you can. New this year, I’m letting you recommend and nominate teammates on the application. I’ve found that teams who’ve worked together before and can meet together often perform better. Showing that you already have strong team dynamics can definitely give you an edge.
  7. Be ready to get your hands dirty! Okay, so this doesn’t directly pertain to the application, but still very important. This is a real-world experience, which means it’s going to be very rewarding and very frustrating. Things aren’t going to go as planned and you’re going to have to be innovative. I’d love if you could show me you’re ready for that in your application.

Now that you’ve got the inside scoop, it’s time to get rolling. Apply for ChangeTheWorld.org Nonprofit Consulting Practicum.  We’re looking forward to connecting you with an amazing project! If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to Pammi at pbhullar@rhsmith.umd.edu

Jul 242014
 

By Pammi Bhullar, Manager for Experiential Learning, Center for Social Value Creation

Smith Sri Lanka Team

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As part of a multi-disciplinary, international consulting practicum offered by the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, ten graduate students ventured to Sri Lanka in May 2014 to spend three weeks consulting with small business owners and government agencies.  Students in this practicum, called Facilitating Economic Growth in Sri Lanka, were funded by the Center for International Business Education and Research (CIBER) while working as consultants on USAID-funded projects.  The International Executive Service Corps (IESC) provided pre-departure training, project support, and in-country assistance while Biz+ Vega, a USAID grantee, led on-the-ground operations including cultivating and managing client relationships.  Students were also supported by the Office of Global Initiatives (OGI) and the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC).  Contributing to the students’ cultural education, Ambassador Jaliya Wickramasuriya and his Board of Ministers hosted the students at the Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Under the direction of Professor Kislaya Prasad, Director of CIBER at Smith, students underwent a competitive application and interview process to be accepted into the program.  The selected group of ten represented three academic degree programs, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Public Policy (MPP), and Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS), and hailed from five different countries, including Japan, Thailand, India, the Czech Republic, and the USA.

While in Sri Lanka, students worked on high impact projects with key stakeholders in the local communities.  Hirokazu Masuoka (MBA ’14) worked with the Eastern Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Production and Development, Rural Industries Development, Fisheries, and Tourism Projects to develop a proposal for establishing a cooperative rural banking facility as part of the multipurpose co-operative in the Eastern Province.  On-the-ground observations made all the difference for Masuoka, he noted, “Now I learned what I need to take into account, what works, and what doesn’t work when I engage with financial markets in developing countries. There is a huge difference between working with my laptop in the U.S. and working on the real site.”

One team composed of MPP, MBA, and MSIS students provided recommendations on strengthening the National Policy on Local Government.  Through site visits and interviews, the team developed recommendations regarding Budget and Revenue Generation, Human Resource Management and Workforce Training, Transparency, and Information Systems and Technology.   At the culmination of the practicum, students presented their recommendations to their clients, representatives from the local community, USAID, IESC, Biz+ Vega, and Smith School of Business.

Not only were students immersed in improving business processes, but also in the cultural nuances of the Sri Lankan people.  Maurice Nick (MBA ’15), having not traveled to Sri Lanka before, was floored by similarities that he discovered between Sri Lankans and himself.  Nick elaborated on one of the distinctions that actually made him feel closer to the Sri Lankan culture than to his own American culture in an article posted in the Washington Times and the Smith blog.  Nick wrote, “Even though I was sent there [to Sri Lanka] to teach business owners how to maintain their financial records, in the end, it was the Sri Lankan people who taught me to always hold steadfast to my faith regardless of where I am in the world.”

Smith School of Business students have benefited from the opportunity to take part in the CIBER-supported Facilitating Economic Development in Sri Lanka practicum since 2011.  Smith has sent five different cohorts, including 34 graduate students from the MBA, MPP, and MSIS programs.  This has given students from the U.S., Europe, Southeast Asia, Japan, and China the opportunity to work with and positively influence Sri Lankan enterprises throughout Sri Lanka.

Jul 012014
 

Community Wealth Building Presenters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What does it mean to have a job that builds wealth? Beyond a living wage – defined as wage that is high enough to maintain a quality of life standard – wealth building is about accumulating assets and surplus capital that lead to an elevated standard of life. For thousands of low-income households across the nation building wealth is not an option. With limited access to jobs that pay even a living wage, these families struggle to make ends meet, let alone to invest in the future.  These low wage jobs trap low-income families in institutional poverty, making them especially vulnerable to economic shocks. How can we create opportunities to help low-income households maintain and improve their current situations?

This question inspired a collaborative effort between the Center for Social Value Creation (CSVC) at the Robert H. Smith School of Business and the Maryland School of Social Work to pilot an experiential learning course called West Baltimore Community Wealth Building Practicum.

The course is based on the initial research of Stephanie Geller, clinical instructor and coordinator of Southwest Baltimore initiatives for the Social Work Community Outreach Service at the Maryland School of Social Work, which explores how to create more wealth building jobs for underserved communities in Baltimore, MD.

Stephanie was fascinated by the model of Evergreen Cooperatives which launched in 2008 in Cleveland, Ohio and came up with an interesting proposed solution to wealth building job creation:

  1. Target the major institutions that have no intention of leaving (hospitals, universities, government organizations, etc.)
  2. Find products and services these institutions need
  3. Build local businesses to meet those demands.
  4. Design the businesses as worker-owned cooperatives to ensure that each “worker / owner” builds wealth within the business.

Stephanie conducted research on how this model could work in Baltimore, identifying several major institutions and developing forty possible business ideas tied to these institutions.

Recognizing the transformative potential of Stephanie’s initial research, CSVC and the School of Social Work teamed up MBA and Masters of Social Work students to investigate the social value and financial viability of twelve of these business ideas. These cross-functional teams conducted interviews with potential stakeholders and partner institutions, analyzed the specific financial and social impact of their ideas on West Baltimore communities, and developed preliminary recommendations for launching these concepts into full-fledged worker-owned cooperatives.

In a final presentation to local funders, community members, and representatives of major Baltimore institutions, the student teams elaborated on four of the highest-potential ideas.  The ideas included property demolition, furniture recycling and refurbishing, compost collection, and an urban greenhouse. There are several common elements to these ideas that make them both attractive investments and appealing social impact opportunities, including:

  • Forecasted profitability within four years
  • Forecasted employment of at least 50 people within 8 years
  • Accessible to unskilled workers
  • Positioned to add value to major local institutions

During the Q&A and reception that followed the presentations many stakeholder expressed words of support saying things like, “I’m so glad you’re researching this,” or, “We definitely need something like this in our City.” The reception was also filled with the buzz of potential partners and funders digging deeper into ideas that caught their attention.

Whether a worker-owned cooperative is created as a direct outcome of this work, or is referenced at a later time by a group committed to aligning economic prosperity and local institutions, The West Baltimore Community Wealth Building Practicum has laid the groundwork for models that go beyond living wages and truly build wealth in Baltimore.

Jun 052014
 

If you haven’t heard the story of Brooks Gabel and his social venture justlikeyou.org then you haven’t been paying much attention to University of Maryland media. In the last year, Brooks has been featured in places like Terp Magazine, the Diamondback, and TerpVision, just to name a few.

JYL1

Brooks and a team of 21 students and professionals have built a free and anonymous social network for those looking to talk about coming out called justlikeyou.org. Leading up to the site launch on April 13th 2014, Brooks competed in the 3rd annual Do Good Challenge (DGC). DGC is an 8 week competition held each spring at the University of Maryland; it empowers students to form teams and “do good” for a cause they care about, or to launch a social venture.

Just prior to the 2014 Do Good Challenge, Brooks and his team were in the planning stages of justlikeyou.org. With tremendous support from The Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship’s Fearless Founders Program, they developed a beta site, grew their social media presence, and, most importantly, tested to make sure that the entire experience would meet the needs of their users. They also raised capital and trained volunteers who would serve as pen pals and resources for users. At about the same time, Brooks learned about the Booster Fund that provides $500 in seed capital to student teams who plan to participate in the Do Good Challenge.

“It was really serendipitous how the [Do Good] Challenge aligned with our own goals.” explained Brooks. “The Challenge provided us a vehicle to channel our efforts.”

Brooks applied for and won the $500 from the Booster fund, and used the money to develop justlikeyou.org’s volunteer training program. When the Do Good Challenge kicked off in early spring Justlikeyou.org launched a crowdfunding campaign with the lofty goal of raising $50,000, and training 100 volunteers during the 8 week Challenge.

At the end of the eight weeks, which entailed mobilizing incredible online support and making A LOT of appearances, justlikeyou.org raised $38,338.00 in donations and in-kind support, and trained 27 volunteers. “We didn’t exactly reach our goals, but we also didn’t know what to expect,” said Brooks. “We did all the leg-work up front, but there’s a big difference between planning and what actually happens.  And not all of what happened was bad. We expected an average donation of $20 and it ended up being around $75.”

DGC14_22Justlikeyou.org’s efforts elevated them to the Do Good Challenge Finals where Brooks pitched live to hundreds of people and a panel of judges including Boomer Esiason, CBS Sports Analyst and former NFL quarterback, David Falk, one of the sports industry’s greatest talent agents, and Robert Seaberg, Board member of the Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding Trust. All of the judges were moved by the story of justlikeyou.org and were left speechless when Boomer Esiason asked, “what’s your motivation for doing this?” and Brooks immediately responded, “It’s the resource I never had.”

JustLikeyou.org won the ventures track at the Do Good Challenge Finals on April 29, 2014 and took home a grand prize of $6,000. The winnings will be used to train more volunteers and increase the site’s capacity to have even more meaningful conversations.

Since the Challenge, Brooks temporarily shifted gears to focus on graduating college, but after walking the stage (and some much needed R & R), he plans to dive back in to Justlikeyou.org and fine tune the user experience on the site. Growth is important for Brooks, but only to the extent that it’s done effectively. That means more volunteer training and working out site kinks.

Reflecting on the experience Brooks said, “Through the Do Good Challenge, we joined a community of people giving back. It’s been so different from the business competition community we usually engage with. Everyone in the Challenge, including our competition, wanted us to succeed. That was motivating and exciting.”

Brooks is a shining example of the University of Maryland student social ventures and projects that the Do Good Challenge helps cultivate and amplify. Here’s to the success of Justlikeyou.org, other Do Good Challenge finalists, and to the future ventures that will be inspired by their example.

To learn more and to stay connected, visit JustLikeYou.org’s website and Facebook page, and be sure to check out the Do Good Challenge! The 2015 Challenge will get underway this Fall with the reintroduction of the Booster Fund to help Do Good Challenge aspirants hit the ground running.