Challenging themselves after being inspired by a social entrepreneur, a group of Miami University students set a goal of raising $35,000 by Dec. 1.
Their effort came in response to a talk by John Wood, who in 1998 left his executive position with Microsoft to found Room to Read, an organization that builds schools and libraries in remote corners of the globe. After hearing and speaking to Wood during his appearance Oct. 4 at Miami’s Farmer School of Business, about 25 students decided to raise the money for one Room to Read school, which costs about $35,000.
“Each of us pledged to try and raise more than $1,000,” Ben Fudge, a member of the group, said. “And the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, which sponsored John Wood’s talk, helped us by getting a few gifts from supporters.”
By mid-November, the students reached their financial goal and, in the process, established Miami as the first university whose undergraduates have funded a Room to Read school.
Although they’ve reached their goal, the group has not stopped raising money.
“Every additional $250 provides a scholarship to send one very deserving girl to school for a year,” Kathryn Mulligan, assistant director for Miami’s Entrepreneurship Center, said.
Fudge explained, while poor families may find the money to send a son to school, it is a luxury for a girl to be educated.
“Without an education, girls in many developing countries are easily marginalized, marrying at a very early age and ending up doing heavy farm labor or turning to prostitution,” he said. “We are hopeful that the scholarships we provide will enable girls to attend the school we build.”
“As educators, we think the most important thing we can give our children is an education,” said Brett Smith, director of Miami’s Entrepreneurship Center, said. “We’ve got to make the most of this opportunity to ensure as many children as possible are given an opportunity to learn.”
Farmer School Dean Roger L. Jenkins said he is impressed at the enthusiasm with which students have responded to the Room to Read challenge.
“Thanks to the leadership of Brett Smith and the Center for Social Entrepreneurship, increasing numbers of Miami students are connecting with social entrepreneurship opportunities,” he said.
“Through organizations like Room to Read, they are helping to create sustainable solutions to chronic problems in the developing world.”
For more information about the Room to Read fundraising project call 513 529-1221, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.fsb.muohio.edu/centers/social-entrepreneurship.