Hundreds of Terps packed Kay Theatre in the UMD Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center to watch the final six teams compete in the 7th Annual Do Good Challenge on May 1. Terp Thon and Symbiont Health took first place and $5,000 for their Do Good ideas.
During the Challenge, three finalist teams competed in the project track and three teams competed in the venture track. Each team was given time on the stage to pitch their Do Good project or venture to the audience and judges for a chance to win a share of more than $20,000.
“You are all fired up for this year’s Do Good Challenge aren’t you?” UMD President Wallace Loh asked the excited crowd. “We are Terps, we do good! To do good is citizenship in action. To do good is what defines this country,”
Director of the School of Public Policy’s Do Good Institute Robert T. Grimm Jr. added, “The UMD Do Good Campus is pioneering a new model. We take what students are passionate about and give them the skills and tools to change the world.”
“Maryland is the destination if you want to change the world for good,” Grimm said.
The first team to pitch for the project track was Nourish: Mommy and Me, a student organization focused on providing education and healthy meals to pregnant women in need. The group currently works with the Gabriel Network, a nonprofit organization that helps mothers in crisis pregnancies in Prince George’s County and Howard County. The presenters said the prize money from the Do Good Challenge would enable to group to double the amount of women they support each year.
Next up was Scholars Promoting and Revitalizing Care (SPARC), a student-led group that promotes the wellbeing and care of students at UMD, with a focus on mental health. During their pitch, SPARC students noted that students at UMD have waited for up to 30 days to see a counselor. The students went on to describe how they would use the Do Good prize money to expand their outreach and work to bring additional mental health resources and professionals to the UMD campus.
Terp Thon was the final project team to pitch. The organization works to support families dealing with pediatric illness and their yearly efforts culminate in a 12-hour dance marathon. The students pitching for Terp Thon mentioned that over the years the group has raised more than 4 million dollars for families in need. They plan to use their prize money to expand their efforts and spread the word about Terp Thon across campus.
The venture track groups were next to pitch their ideas. Up first was Recyclify, a group working to streamline and simplify the recycling process. Their idea involved a smart recycling bin and an app that helps educate users on how to recycle properly. The Recyclify students noted that their idea would help reduce contamination and waste. They also said they would use the prize money to build additional prototype bins.
Next was Symbiont Health, a previous Do Good Challenge competitor, whose invention aims to help accelerate the response and help provided following and elderly fall. The group’s device serves as an alert system to detect a fall using motion sensor and gyroscopic technology. The money from the Do Good Challenge would help Symbiont Health expand their pilot program at nursing homes.
The final venture team to pitch was Synapto, an organization that created a device to promote early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Their work utilizes portable EEG and Machine Learning and moves away from more costly diagnostic techniques. The aim is to make early Alzheimer’s diagnosis more affordable. Money from the Do Good Challenge would help Synapto engage with the FDA to create an approved EEG device.
While the judges deliberated, the audience participated in the Audience Choice Awards. Each audience member was able to text in a vote for their favorite finalist team to win an additional $2,500. The audience chose SPARC as the Audience Choice winner.
Before the finals, audience members were given “Do Good Dollars” to spend on the semi-finalist teams they believed in the most. Two semi-finalist teams who earned the most “Do Good Dollars” during the Showcase before the finals, were given the opportunity to give a lightning pitch on stage. The audience was then given the chance to text a vote for their favorite team to win additional funds for their projects. Flush X was awarded first prize and $750; Preventing Sexual Assault won second prize and $500 for their efforts.
Terp Thon and Symbiont Health were awarded first place in their respective categories, while SPARC and Synapto won second place and $2,500 for their projects. Norish: Mommy and Me and Recyclify won third place and $1,000 each to further their ideas.
The Do Good Challenge was founded by the UMD School of Public Policy’s Do Good Institute, and sponsored by Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. You can learn more about the challenge at www.dogood.umd.edu.