University of Maryland student organizations Terps Against Hunger and Medfund each won a $5,000 grand prize at Tuesday night's Do Good Challenge, which awarded $20,000 overall to student philanthropy teams.
The challenge — now in its fifth year — was sponsored by Morgan Stanley, the public policy school and the business school, drawing 87 student teams that competed for eight weeks. The event, held at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center, involved the final three teams in the project and venture categories each giving a five-minute presentation to a panel of three judges in hopes of securing the grand prize.
"We've talked about this sort of being the combination of American Idol and Shark Tank," said Toby Egan, the faculty adviser for the challenge and a professor at the public policy school.
The three project teams, which Egan defined as "event-centric" and affiliated with a parent organization, were No Taboo. Period., Preventing Sexual Assault and Terps Against Hunger. The venture teams, which are independent, student-run organizations, were Annie's Children, the Love Blanket Project and Medfund.
Terps Against Hunger, also the winner of the $2,500 audience choice award, provides meals to food-insecure families in the Washington metropolitan area.
"It's just such a great feeling just because I know all these meals — it's not going towards me, but it's going straight to the families of D.C.," said presenter and sophomore architecture major Joshua Turskey. "I'm really excited to see what we can do with this money."
Patrick Prommel, Medfund co-founder and a senior finance major, said the demands of the hospital in Bolivia that his organization supports will determine how the award money is used.
Preventing Sexual Assault won the $2,500 second-place award in the project category, and No Taboo. Period. won the $1,000 third-place award. In the ventures category, Annie's Children won second place and $2,500, while the Love Blanket Project won third place and $1,000.
Seven other semi-finalists were also offered a chance to win the showcase audience award of $750 before the Do Good Challenge began. People who attended the event were given "Do Good Dollars" to vote for their favorite semi-finalist, and the top two teams pitched their organization to the audience. A Helpful Hello, an organization that provides resources for students to talk to homeless people, won the award through a text-message voting system.
While audience members decided the winners for the showcase audience award and audience choice award, three judges, including former Do Good Challenge winner Sagar Doshi, decided the grand prize winners in the project and venture categories.
"The way that we judge them is really a combination of how well they align their mission with the execution of their organization and the way that they implement either their venture or project," said Egan, who helped to award accelerator funding to 30 or 40 student groups in the fall and has continued to coach the student leaders.
University President Wallace Loh attended the event and called the presentations "inspiring."
"This is the best of what America has to offer," he said. "Students applying their talents to make a difference in the world, making an impact on people's lives. I am so proud of them."