14 Incredible Teams Selected as 2024 Do Good Challenge Semi-Finalists

UMD Staff - March 7, 2024

INFO students Wadi Ahmed and Ruka Ayele are among the semi-finalists!

Photo of the front of the UMD Do Good Institute building

The UMD Do Good Institute

The Do Good Institute is excited to announce the selection of the 2024 Do Good Challenge semi-finalists. These student-led teams will compete for the opportunity to advance to the Do Good Challenge Finals on April 30 where they will present in front of a panel of expert judges and an audience of hundreds and vie for a share of more than $20,000 in prizes!

A total of 14 teams were selected to advance as semi-finalists, from an impressive group of student teams creating change from across campus. Of the teams, five are returning Challenge competitors and three have participated in the Do Good Accelerator Fellows program. This year’s semi-finalist teams are tackling various social issues from combating social isolation in the elderly population to providing entrepreneurship education to marginalized communities to preventing youth substance use and reducing health disparities.

The Do Good Challenge is a chance for students to share the impact that they have created for the causes they care most about and this year’s semi-finalists have all created an amazing impact. Even though the teams are passionate about different social issues and communities, all of them have the common thread of being dedicated to creating change and doing good. I can’t wait to see them take the stage and share their stories! Catherine Curtis, Program Coordinator

This year’s semi-finals will be taking place on Friday, March 8, at the Do Good Accelerator, with finalist teams announced on April 1. Social impact and innovation experts from across University of Maryland’s campus make up the semi-finals judge panel, including: Lottie Byram (Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship), Erica Estrada-Liou (Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship), Nima Farschi (Center for Social Value Creation), Leslie Jefferson (School of Public Policy), Erin McClure (School of Public Health), Sammy Popat (Office of Innovation and Economic Development), Kamrie Risku (Leadership & Community Service-Learning) and Antoyna de Silva (Office of Community Engagement).

Meet the 2024 Do Good Challenge Semi-Finalist Teams

Project Finalists

App Dev Club (ADC) is a University of Maryland student organization with more than 350 registered members that bridges the gap between academic learning and real-world software development. The organization adopts a dual approach to social good, equipping UMD students with practical experience crucial for securing internships in the saturated tech industry and developing software for socially impactful corporate projects. In one semester, ADC gave 46 underclassmen and three juniors invaluable tech and networking experience between bootcamps and projects; 28 of these students landed summer 2024 internships.

  • Samai Patel, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences; Honors College (Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students)
  • Matthewos Gashaw, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences; Honors College (Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students)

Astron Robotics Systems aims to enhance public safety through the development of an Automated Steam-Plant Infrastructure Thermal Sensing And Reporting System (ASTARS). The organization’s goal is to revolutionize the current manual process, making it more accurate, efficient and cost-effective. By leveraging autonomous technology, the organization’s ASTARS aims to prevent injuries caused by hot manhole covers, significantly reduce survey time by 75 percent and streamline the identification and repair of leaking manhole covers. They are committed to making a tangible difference in public safety, setting a new standard for steam plant assessments. They have procured $10,000 worth of materials to build the first prototype.

  • Arshad Shaik, A. James Clark School of Engineering
  • Dhinesh Rajasekaran, A. James Clark School of Engineering

The Blood Pressure Screening Project aims to combat heart disease and health disparities in the local community and empower individuals to proactively manage their health. This year, the organization’s 75+ volunteers held a successful event at the YMCA Silver Spring, providing 50 blood pressure screenings. The group has plans to expand its reach into the greater DC area, collaborate with more key partners, and increase its impact by extending its services and resources.

  • Mohammed Ndiaye, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences; College Park Scholars (Global Public Health)

Dare to Dream (DTD) is a nonprofit organization that empowers marginalized communities to chase their dreams unapologetically through entrepreneurship. Their team of 25 interdisciplinary students has developed an eight-week entrepreneurial development curriculum; secured a contract with the Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission, where youth with families who receive housing support engaged in a three-week program to kick off their knowledge of entrepreneurship and dream chasing; and is conducting a full academic year contract with the University of Maryland’s Dingman Center of Entrepreneurship and Junior Achievement to teach their first-ever cohorts of high school students in Prince George’s County how to launch their own LLCs, obtain capital and investors, and liquidate their businesses.

  • Takiyah Roberts, Undergraduate Studies; College Park Scholars (Science, Technology and Society)

Oromo Student Association at the University of Maryland (OSA) focuses on empowering and campaigning for issues dealing with the Oromo people in Ethiopia. The Oromo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa, with more than 35 million people in the country. However, the Oromo people have faced disenfranchisement, with massive displacement of their people, political arrests and a disregard for their culture and human rights. OSA seeks to highlight the issues affecting the Oromo people and push for peaceful resolutions, while serving as a safe space for diaspora Oromo students to feel comfortable and celebrate their cultural heritage. The group holds weekly meetings highlighting aspects of the Oromo culture, vibrant culture shows with student organizations such as the Ethiopian-Eritrean Student Association and People 4 Tigray, and fundraising efforts that have raised thousands of dollars for humanitarian efforts.

  • Wadi Ahmed, College of Information Studies
  • Ruka Ayele, College of Information Studies

Public Health Beyond Borders (PHBB) empowers families and communities, both locally and globally, to achieve their best health through health education workshops and advocacy. The organization works to reduce health disparities around the world and increase awareness about good health practices, while providing undergraduate and graduate students with opportunities for responsible global development work. Since its inception 10+ years ago, PHBB has actively collaborated with partner communities in India, Peru, Sierra Leone, and Kenya and has completed 10+ interventions globally, involving more than 1,000 undergraduates and positively impacting 2,500+ children.

  • Meghna Pandey, College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; Honors College (Integrated Life Sciences)
  • Elias Laskey, College of Computer, Mathematical & Natural Sciences; Honors College (Global Public Health Scholars)

Terrapin Think Tank (TTT) is the first student-led policy incubator at the University of Maryland. For the past two and a half years, TTT has been developing and advocating for community-centered policy solutions to significant health challenges in Prince George’s County. The organization is officially partnered with the School of Public Health’s Office of Public Health Practice and Community Engagement, and works closely with elected officials and the Prince George’s County Health Department on several “health in all policies” initiatives. Students can apply to join TTT as a fellow and take a 1-credit course on policy research and advocacy while developing their own policy proposal.

  • Ethan Adler, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences; College Park Scholars (Media, Self and Society)
  • Esohe Owie, School of Public Health; College of Arts & Humanities; Honors College (Gemstone)

Venture Finalists

Game Changers aims to empower disadvantaged youth around the world by providing them the opportunity to become athletes. Game Changers facilitates connections between sports equipment donors and children’s sports programs globally through an online database. Since its founding in 2016, Game Changers has donated 100,000+ pieces of sports equipment worth more than $2.5 million to 130 partner organizations in nine countries. These collective efforts have enabled the organization to impact the lives of more than 440,000 children worldwide.

  • Sara Blau, Robert H. Smith School of Business; College Park Scholars (International Studies)

Mission Uplink builds low-cost internet infrastructure for schools in Malawi where internet would otherwise be prohibitively expensive. By intelligently compressing and storing websites on a local network the first time any student visits them, Mission Uplink is able to significantly improve and expand internet usage in schools. Last year, Mission Uplink entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Malawi Government to deploy the initiative in schools across the country and has plans to launch its first full-system pilot test at the Parachute Community Day School in Salima, Malawi, giving 500+ students consistent access to the internet.

  • Srivishnu Piratla, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences; College Park Scholars (International Studies)

Phenomenal Women’s Health aims to positively influence the lives of women by promoting the importance of living a healthier lifestyle. Its programs and services educate, equip and empower women and young ladies.Since its inception in 2007, the organization has reached more than 10,200 women and girls; receiving a proclamation from the State of Georgia for servicing 8,000+ women and girls. Ninety five percent of PWH’s Loving Me program mentees went to post-secondary schools. Others started their own businesses. Surveys from parents review 100% improvement in their daughter’s self confidence, communication, and dealing with their emotions. For their STEAM project, PWH will partner with Fayette County Library in Fayetteville, GA, the Fayette County school district, Panasonic, and Kids Code Next to accomplish their goals.

  • Cheryl Burnside, School of Public Policy

Project Purpose is a nonprofit organization that serves the Washington Metropolitan Area through mentorship, educational awareness and volunteer work. By conducting programming centered around youth substance use prevention, students are able to participate in mentoring sessions and informative workshops and activities that aid in increased awareness and prevention for youth substance abuse. Youth participating in Project Purpose’s mentoring program curate their own community service projects by identifying a need in their community that they are passionate about. In doing this, youth are able to earn community service hours required for high school graduation and develop skills in implementing, coordinating and planning skills through prevention outreach programming.

  • India Richey, School of Public Policy

The 2nd LT Richard W. Collins III Foundation was established to defeat the intolerance and fear that robbed the Collins family of their beloved son, and promote scholarship and mentoring to ensure the success of young people of color. The Foundation successfully lobbied the Maryland General Assembly for the enactment of the 2nd LT Richard W. Collins III Hate Crime Law as well as the 2nd LT Richard W. Collins III Scholarship Program Legislation, which provides $1 million in annual scholarships, with 700+ Maryland HBCU students receiving scholarship funding since 2018. Through partnerships with Bowie State University and the Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School, the Foundation brings together ROTC students from historically Black colleges and predominately white institutions for outdoor leadership exercises aimed at fostering community.

  • Dawn Collins, School of Public Policy

True Community works to save lives, increase health literacy, provide meaningful work and empower people to give care in emergencies – the organization aims to inspire people to transform the well-being of their communities. True Community provides wellness education and training in lifesaving skills including first aid, CPR and AED to traditionally marginalized communities. Research shows that incidences of cardiac arrest in Black communities are five times more likely to end as a fatality than in primarily white communities. Since its inception, True Community has provided more than 8,000 first aid, CPR, AED certifications across 18 major cities in the United States.

  • Luke Kues, School of Public Health
  • Ebenezer Mensah, College of Education

WISE Cities, LLC is a female-run startup focused on designing accessible technology to address the issue of social isolation among the elderly. The company’s app allows seniors to form local groups and gives community centers and local businesses the opportunity to connect with this typically hard-to-reach audience. Through the Smart City Challenge, WISE Cities completed a funded pilot with the City of Fairfax and has been accepted to national networks of organizations battling social isolation. The organization has been able to connect with nearly 200 community centers, businesses, governments and networks to refine their product and have received close to $20,000 in grants, credits and resources through the Dorm Room Fund, AWS Activate, Google Cloud and more. The product has been featured on MSN and has gained support from National Village to Village Network as well as individuals connected through AARP and the National Council on Aging.

  • Marie Brodsky, College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences
  • Kat Close ‘23, College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, College of Arts & Humanities

Do Good Challenge Finalists will be announced on April 1, 2024. Finals will be held on Tuesday, April 30, 2024 from 6-9pm on campus at University of Maryland.

The Do Good Challenge and the Do Good Institute are made possible by the support and commitment of our dedicated partners, donors and community.

We are incredibly grateful to the Karen and Bruce Levenson Family Foundation for its visionary leadership and partnership since 2010. Today, thousands of student leaders are making a deep impact in their communities through UMD’s Do Good Campus.

A special thank you to Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management for its decade-plus lead sponsorship of the Do Good Challenge; The Rothschild Foundation for its transformative partnership with the Do Good Institute and Do Good Challenge; and Freed Photography for capturing every in-person Do Good Challenge Finals.