Freshman students from the College Park Scholars Public Leadership Program spent the Spring semester learning about, developing, and running a grantmaking process. Tasked with awarding up to $1,000 to issues they were passionate about, students were broken up into five groups and given the opportunity to not only study social issues, but also provide money to organizations that were taking action that inspired them. Despite classes being moved to a virtual format, the five groups remained steadfast in their efforts and ended the semester awarding a total of $5,000 to eight impressive UMD student-led and other organizations.
The Public Leadership program, sponsored in part through the School of Public Policy, explores the theory and practice of leadership, empowering students to become social change agents through hands-on public service projects and examination of pressing social, political, and economic issues. During this course, students learned about philanthropy and leadership, researched organizations that were making change on campus, developed and reviewed Requests for Proposals, and interviewed select groups that applied for the grants. The award money was provided by the Do Good Institute and is on its way to groups making impact in five issue areas, including education, justice, COVID-19 response, violence prevention, and health.
"This class is very special because students who have been living together and taking classes together since the beginning of freshman year have the opportunity to work as a team to do something important. The Public Leadership students took the responsibility to make a good investment very seriously. When we moved to working from home, the students stayed engaged because they were excited to have an opportunity to help others."Susannah Washburn, Director, Public Leadership Program
Students echo this, recognizing the unique nature of the program. Student Ritika Vemulapalli wrote “Our topic groups each had serious, real world tasks....we dealt with real money, real people and real organizations. Things had to be completed within a timeline and if they were not, it affected more than just my grade.”
Grants were awarded to:
Kids Excelling in Math and Science (KEMS): Kids Excelling in Math and Science provides free after-school enrichment via STEM activities for students at Hyattsville Middle School in Prince George's County. KEMS curriculum covers natural, environmental, and engineering sciences with an emphasis on “hands-on” science and using science to help solve societal problems. ($500)
The Foundational Learning and Mentorship Experience (FLAME): FLAME provides after-school science enrichment and mentorship to students in Prince George's County, featuring weekly lessons covering different scientific topics, hands-on experiments, and mini-projects in small group settings, as well as field trips to locations including the National Air & Space Museum. Through these extracurricular opportunities, FLAME seeks to empower the next generation of STEM leaders by supporting the academic, social, and emotional development of students from underrepresented groups. ($500)
The Semanhyiya Project: The Semanhyiya Project is working to broaden access to education for girls in Senase, Ghana, by means of alleviating period poverty and increasing economic independence. This student-led and -run project empowers young women in Senase, Ghana, to sew and distribute reusable pads to members in their community that need them most. By providing reusable pads, girls are able to attend school and are less likely to fall victim to gender based violence and sex discrimination. This organization was started by a student at UMD after studying abroad in Ghana. ($1000)
Feeding America, through Cal Ripken, Sr. Foundation's "Strike Out Hunger" Campaign: Feeding America is a nonprofit organization with a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other community-based agencies. In the wake of COVID-19, Feeding America announced the establishment of the COVID-19 Response Fund to help food banks across the country as they support communities impacted by the pandemic. This fund will enable food banks to secure the resources they need to serve the most vulnerable members of the community during this difficult time. ($500)
My Sister’s Place: My Sisters’ Place (MSP) supports survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking. MSP strives to end domestic violence and human trafficking through comprehensive services, advocacy, and community education in the DMV area. As a result of COVID-19, My Sisters’ Place staff are working to ensure that they are able to continue to meet the needs of all survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking who come to us for help during the current global health crisis. ($500)
Preventing Sexual Assault (PSA): Preventing Sexual Assault is the first and only student-run organization on the University of Maryland’s campus that aims to advocate for survivors, educate the community, and work to prevent sexual assault on UMD’s campus. Founded in 2015, PSA has reached thousands of students and combatted sexual assault by educating the community through a workshops, walks, and their most popular event: “Occupy McKeldin.” ($1000)
Vitalize: 42 percent of physicians report experiencing burnout. Vitalize intends to solve the issue that by creating the first mobile-based intervention designed to help promote the practice of literature-backed wellness strategies amongst physicians. Vitalize is developing a solution that directly engages with physicians through an automatic app, which incorporates wellness strategies and therapies into physicians’ busy schedules. Through a comprehensive yet user-friendly platform that offers these features, Vitalize will help to restore physicians’ physical, emotional, and spiritual energy banks. ($1000)
Congratulations to all of the Public Leadership students for a job well done, and to all of the organizations who were provided with grants.
To learn more about the Public Leadership Program and the Do Good Institute, click the buttons below.